Beatrice Banda is a beautiful African sistah from Pretoria. She is also a budding fashion designer on the move. Her story about how she fell in love with fashion is as queer as is intriguing. I was there to document her testimonial during a laid-back afternoon at Africafe Sunnyside where she and I met for a brief tete-a-tete over a vegetarian tramezzini and my plate of chicken wings and fries. Miss Banda’s alternative stance to fashion design can be attributed to her hybrid identity as a Malawian-South African admirably fluent in Tswana, Zulu, Tsonga, English and Chichewa. It is probably this extensive worldview that makes her the vivacious and expressive personality she is.
Beatrice Banda’s brainchild otherwise known as Vestido Rose is a young yet promising fashion label. Vestido Rose was formally established in 2010 with the culmination of two daring collections, the ‘Genesis’ line followed by the ‘Imagine’ line. Did she always love fashion as some renowned designers claim to have loved fashion right out of the cradle? The answer is no. It is more recently in 2009 that this ambitious sistah discovered her love for fashion design. Miss Banda finished writing her last exam in 2009 and decided to raid the shops for a few clothing items. Anticlimactically she found that nothing at all appealed to her taste. What was she looking for? A boob tube she responds but not just any boob tube. You could say she had a picture in her head but nothing to match her fantasy in reality. A mental light bulb went off and she decided to make her own boob tube sans design experience. Did you at least own a machine I quipped? Well of course not, needles and thread did the trick. She achieved it all by looking at another boob tube and cutting material to that pattern. She achieved it. “I was so excited I called everyone, my parents and friends” she explodes. Paying a more experienced tailor R20 per night for a crash course on how to use a sewing machine her passion and love for fashion and design grew.
Her journey was not easy but she was dedicated. Some nights she did not want to leave her mentor’s place as she was bursting with enthusiasm and passion to learn. She admits to having wasted lots of material which she was funding out of her own pocket. All the while her mind was brewing with more and more ideas of the types of clothes she would design. In 2010 she took a leap of faith and decided to register a business and Vestido Rose was born. Vestido means’ to be dressed’ in Spanish and ‘rose’ was added for a feminine sensibility to her label’s name. Rose after all conjures images of images of alluring beauty. The result is a name both exotic and sensual with an international appeal.
Vestido Rose’s clothes are a fusion of African meets Western. This is an indispensable aspect of Vestido Rose’s brand which so far has proven to set it apart. Vestido Rose designs are made from African fabrics and mostly ethnic colours on Western silhouettes. Beatrice Banda’s designs accentuate the female form from skinny to curvy and exude sensuality with an edge. But it is the eye-catching combination of colours that make Vestido Rose items unforgettable. If Beatrice Banda’s personality and imaginative sensibility is anything to go by Vestido Rose is about to reach full bloom quite soon.
Vestido Rose launched earlier this year to great success. Keep tabs on Vestido Rose’s website and Facebook fan page (House of VestidoRose) for its next showcasing in the Spring.