Friday, 17 January 2014

Local Lovely Flavour: Interview with Natasha Kagoro

Natasha Theresa Kagoro is a 20-something emerging fashion designer based in Harare, and one whom I got the lucky opportunity to interview face-to-face on my first one-on-one interview with any individual for that matter. Our location was Bannie’s restaurant within the NSSA building along Sam Nujoma/Second street extension, on a sunny (beautiful) mid Monday morning. I wanted to know the lady behind the label Black Excellence, which showcased a very elegant collection at last year’s FWZ 2013 held at the Borrowdale Racecourse. I had only seen Natasha backstage that evening but this was the first time I actually got to meet her. Our interview was an eye-opener and at the same time very intriguing! It was like catching up with an old friend (Natasha’s words by the way), to which I concur to as well. I sure hope to create a very strong friendship with her because this is the first designer I met who was very open and honest from the get-go. I might not share every detail of our meet-and-greet but I will try and cover as much ground as possible to let you in on the experience.

And here it is:

Describe yourself in 5 quick words
Mother, Entrepreneur, Crazy, Hardworker and Dedicated

Now tell me who is Natasha Theresa Kagoro
Natasha Kagoro is a designer, farmer and a Beauty and Body Therapist by profession; nickname being “Tessa”. I studied Beauty therapy at Cindy’s Beauty Parlour right here in Harare in Greendale and I studied Body Therapy for one year in Durban, South Africa at The Beauty Specialist Training Academy. As a body therapist I cover reflexology, aroma therapy and body massage.

And school wise?
I grew up in America from 1992-1999 in New York City and so I did my primary education there and when I came back home I enrolled into Westridge High School and then later I went to Speciss College for two years before later enrolling into Beauty Therapy. 

*Furthermore, Natasha shared a bit of her life struggles, which I found to be very touching and inspiring, and with her permission I’m going to share. She was once a cross boarder trader, yes when times turned for the worse in Zimbabwe in 2008, she shared how she wanted to make ends meet as a single parent by turning to cross-boarder trading. A lot of you must know that cross-boarder trading is a risky and dangerous business, travelling at least four times a week and at strenuous hours between Botswana and South-Africa (Natasha noted mainly Botswana at the time due to no visa application). She also talked about how she was a carpenter at one point whilst living on her own in South-Africa after Therapy school, and actually helped with the carpentry work in the apartment building that she was residing in at that time. Looking at this, carpentry work is mainly a male designated work field with a lot of manpower, and you can imagine the dust from carving wood. When she shared this I joked about how she has a little experience in home d├ęcor, but for her it was more of a hustle.*

So tell me, who are you as a designer?
I’m a designer who is very hard working. I had always been a designer since as a young girl thanks to my mother (Mrs. Patricia Parwada), who is a French Tailor by profession that studied in New York. Designing and sewing had always been there but it was just something on the side for me, that I just did at home. I didn’t think I would venture into designing until only last year when I entered Fashion Weekend Zimbabwe with a little push from my brother’s girlfriend (musician Vera). I didn’t take it seriously at first nor did I think I would be shortlisted, but then one day I received a confirmation letter and that’s how it all started. Black Excellence officially launched for the first time in April 2013.

Wow! 2013 sounded like a pretty good year for you, launching in April and then a few months later you showed your collection at FWZ 2013. I only have one question for you; describe 2013 in one word?

*At this point I’m loving how our conversation is flowing, so much so that we forget our drinks in front of us*

Ok before going back to you as a designer, tell me what FWZ was like for you?
It was tough and great at the same time. It was tough in the sense that it required hard work and dedication whilst at the same time I’m also juggling being a mother to my daughter. It was also great because I made new friends with fellow designers through our workshops and conferences. I’ve become very close to each and every one of them and we constantly stay in touch. (Fellow designers being Samantha Matemadombo, Tanya Mushayi, Edmond Chikumbirike, Samantha Dika and Nyasha Nhutsve).

Some of Natasha's designs from FWZ.
What inspires you as a designer?
I really have no particular inspiration; it just comes at that moment in time. I will start something with a rough sketch and then with time it will just continue to evolve and take its own form, coming straight from the heart. But I like to always stay with the theme of the label which is Simplistic Elegance. Another thing I would like to point out is my mom; I think my mother is my biggest inspiration due to her knowledge in sewing, tailoring and design. I really didn’t go to design school or cover any design course because everything I needed to know and that I learned came from my mother. So to really sum it up I think she is my biggest inspiration.

Other factors I also look at is the fabric choice, I can completely create a piece just from my fabric choice; it all depends with my mood.

And your personal style as a designer? How would you describe it?
Really simple and laid back. I’m just sneakers, jeans and a vest and I’m good to go!

And your pet peeve as a designer?
Ok I will just put it out there; I don’t think it’s necessary to dress up to go to the supermarket to buy bread or something! It’s not necessary to wear a maxi dress just to buy bread, that’s one thing I find unnecessary. I also think young people should stop copying celebrities because celebrities have a marketing strategy to their clothing and fashion on a day to day basis.

Since 2013 was a starting point for Black Excellence, what can we expect from the label in 2014?
Hmm... I have three ladies collections planned out just for this year and I started the first collection late last year. I’m also working on opening the label’s first boutique close to the CBD area in Harare by end of January. It will carry the label and other emerging designers to showcase their material. My plan is to make it a centre for tailored clothing by incorporating other designers and selling them at a very affordable price for the fashion-loving individual. There is soo much raw talent out there that just goes unnoticed.

Other than the label, I also have a side project collaboration with Tariro Negatire (@tarironegitare) whom is very dear because she proudly wears some of my designs for her shows. It’s called Acoustic Fashion Night which is a joint quarterly event that Tariro and myself host at the Zimbabwean German Society. Our first show was in December 2013, which I must say was a great turnout. I take care of the fashion part of the show which is the showcase, clothing, designers and the models whilst Tariro co-ordinates the music, band and artistes. So it’s a great collaborative venture, and what I love about it is it focuses on young designers. So it’s all in good fun with an acoustic fusion.

You mentioned a Ladies collection, are there any plans for a men’s collection in 2014?
Depends on the mood…will see.

So back to you once again, I want to know who is your absolute style icon?
Christian Dior! I love his original silhouette of the women’s fashion from the 1950s and 1960s. It’s probably my most favourite fashion era.

*Me and her have something in common, we both adore the 1950s and 60s era. I think it was the best fashion era of all time that really defined a woman’s silhouette*

And what is your most absolute must-have fashion accessory at the moment?
Chunky Bangles! I love chunky bangles and/or bracelets! I believe the more stacked on, the better.
Stacked Bracelets Natasha was wearing during our interview.
Before we round up, I want to know if you have any philosophies that you live by?
I’m really a blunt, straightforward and honest person so for me honesty is very important. I like good criticism because I personally think it is constructive and it builds you. Responsibility for me is also a very key element especially since I’m a company owner. I try my level best to be a responsible businesswoman to my family, community and potential clients. I also strongly believe in giving back; my mother always tells me in order to achieve success and be successful you must give back to those who need it the most. Even if it’s just a small piece of advice or helping someone out, I always strongly feel like giving back is just as important as receiving something because it will always come back to you. And prayer! You really can’t forget to turn to God in any situation.

Last but not least, what do you think needs to be done to change our Zimbabwean Fashion Industry and further elevate it to international standards?
Ok, the fashion industry is cutthroat! I’ve seen it. Designers compete with other designers, models can be catty and bloggers want the best story. So really it takes a whole combination of everyone to contribute in a positive manner so that the industry benefits and not just the individual themselves. I think there is need to re-focus ourselves, try to understand what we are working for and why we are even working in fashion to begin with. Egos need to be set aside and that includes our differences; no stereotyping whatsoever! I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to rush their fashion dream, but I believe in taking baby steps. I mean look at me I’m in my late 20s but I started sewing in high school! So taking your time and building yourself and your brand is very important. And finally branching out- a lot of people know Zimbabwean fashion under Harare. What about Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and even Masvingo?! They all fall under Zimbabwe. Yes I know resources maybe scarce but at least connecting with other regions or individuals in those regions is always a good start.


So this is Natasha Theresa Kagoro of Black Excellence. She is a daughter, sister, mother and an emerging designer. I’m very proud to say this was my first candid, one-on-one interview, and just by spending two hours with her I learnt a lot that I hadn’t imagined. This is one of many growing designers in our country and I would love for you to read and get acquainted with our amazing fashion, as much as I had enjoyed interviewing her and documenting this.

Natasha's sophisticated ensemble for our interview. A green sleeveless cowl blouse with those brown structured pants i loved from FWZ.
To contact Black Excellence and Natasha herself, check out the following links;

Yours in Glamour,

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

My Weekend Ensemble: Print-Tastic Skirt

Print-Tastic is how best I would like to describe last Sunday's ensemble. There is always a story behind my outfits so i'm going to share it. First and foremost I'm very glad as to how I styled this printed circle skirt which is actually a second hand piece. It reminded of alot of nostalgia and of course I told myself I had to have it. 

The print is actually green leaves with accents of brown flowers and it is further the one piece I took the time to alter. I folded up the hemline of the skirt (by 6cm) and undid the buttons on the side of the pockets. The plus factor about this circle skirt is the pockets! Which if I must say, is an added style statement just to the skirt alone. My red blouse is courtesy of my sister who bought it for me, and the Mr. Price neckchain also belongs to her (Thank you sis for lending it to me). My peplum blazer was just a throwover to compensate for the chilly weather that morning, finally green pumps from Jet, a skinny belt for the cinched in waist and finally the signature sunglasses to finish off the look.

Before I go, Apologies for the poor picture quality, but best believe I'm working on it. Whilst we are at it, tell me your thoughts on the printed circle/midi skirt? Would you wear a vintage piece?

As always,

Yours in Glamour,

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Guest Blog Article by Shoe Tribe

My first official Guest Blog article is by upcoming shoe blogger Linda Dulani (@linda_dulani) of the Harare-based shoe blog called Shoe Tribe (formally Curls and Heels blog). So Linda is your shoe-loving fanatic and of course i asked her to whip up some of her shoe knowledge to share on the blog. Now I've done shoe posts before, but this time i wanted a different take on it. So here you have it, Linda breaks down her top shoe trends for the summer, 


Summer is upon us yet again! With a new season comes new shoe trends.
Here is the low down on what you should be wearing this Summer and
where to get it.

Slipper Flats. 
This trend is in full force and that great news as we
have been wearing them since Spring. The stores are bursting with
Summer footwear that will suit just about every woman's style. The
only differences are the designs.

They are characterized by floral, bold and wildly embellished strappy
flats. Stores like Shoe Shack have already started stocking ankle
strap and t-bar sandals that have studs and a lot of jewels which were
made popular by a certain designer (cough, Valentino).
Pointy Toes. I'm talking pointy
toes on all types of shoes. Ballet
flats, booties, shooties, heels,
oxfords, closed toe sandals — you
name it.

Metal Toe Caps. 
Either in silver,
pewter or gold on footwear styles
like slipper flats, courts, oxfords and pumps.

Ballerina flats 
will continue to twirl, but with texture and tribal designs.
Jet has the coolest ballet flats with sequins, studs and toe caps
ranging from $10.00-21.00. The bigger the embellishments the better.

Colored metallic, not to mention silver and gold sandals or
silver footwear in general, is without a shadow of a doubt a big
summer trend. If you are not a fan of an all metallic shoe go for
minor gold details like gold trimming on a black sandal.

Ankle Straps: 
Think both broad
and narrow ankle straps on shoes
like pointy toe pumps, flats,
sandals and shooties.

Low Heels. 
This year's trends are for just about every girl. Dainty
kitten heels, low block heels, and low wedge heels are ideal for
comfort as well as style.

Wedge sandals. 
Extremely high
platforms, are on their way out, making room for lower platforms and
wedges with no platform at all. The cork and espadrille wedges also
rank high this summer.

This year has also seen the popularity of the over sized buckles on
the international scene. The added character makes the shoe stand out.
Some shoes hit all the right fashion notes like this cork wedge with
metallic details and a big buckle from Sapatos located in the Joina
City Mall.

Chunky open toe heels and block heels are also taking centre stage
this Summer. They are kinder to your feet than stilettos but look just
as good. Head over to Edgars for a neutral colored pair for $65.00 or
Truworths for a pair of purple suede mary janes with a black block

Last but certainly not least, Summer wouldn't be summer without color,
right?! The colors of the season are already coming out to play.

According to the folks at the fashion colors of 2014
are Freesia (bright yellow), Dazzling Blue (royal blue), Cayenne (deep
red), Placcid Blue (sky blue) to mention a few.

Sapatos has got this chunky tonal heel in three of the colors of the season.

There you have it. Now all you have to do is put your best foot forward.

What is, in your opinion, the hottest trend of the season?

Contacting Shoe Tribe;

Twitter; @Shoetribe OR @LindaDulani_

Yours in Glamour,


Friday, 3 January 2014


2013 had come and now has gone. The GlamList 2014 looks back at some of the fashion trends that defined 2013, and is also a prediction of the same trends that might flow over into 2014. So here you have it, my Top 10 Glam list from 2013;
A lot of print this year onto clothing, which was not only on the international scale but also on our local shores. Case in point is Tanya Nerfetari’s Mod-Clashing print collection for FWZ and Znzorzi Adby’s floral incorporation into his collection for ZFW. Looking at prints this year, there were Floral, Stripes, African, Aztec, Paisley and the Graphic print Chevron (which I’m still to acquaint myself with, but such a beautiful print). And once again African is my main focus because it was really quite a popular fixture on fashion blogs and a lot of the magazines I read. So it is safe assured that prints will always be here to stay, it all depends on how you incorporate them.

Print dresses at Passport Boutique Hre.
Floral print skirt also at Passport. 
On the runway at ZFW 2013, print dresses by Goddess.
Circle/Midi Skirt 
The circle skirt is cute, fun and girly, and is a 1950s silhouette (only this time around it has come back shorter and much more flirter!). the midi and circle skirt have just about the same silhouette, with the midi skirt having a less bounce and no petticoat and the circle skirt has all that including pleats. The skater skirt however has no pleats, no bouncy detail (if any maybe a little) and is shorter, just above the knee. In a nutshell, the differences here are not all that visible, and in some cases they all look the same (I know, it confuses me too).

My circle skirt I wore for ZFW 2013.
Skater skirt as worn by Superficial Girls blogger, Carlinn
Clutch control 
I love how this evening bag has been immortalised for the day. Even though it’s still traditionally for the evening, you can still take your clutch out during the day as a fashion statement.
Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

Statement Jewellery 
Statement jewellery was big this year (and of course yours truly could not be left out). It was either you go BIG or you go home with heavy chokers, big bobbles, chain link pieces, gemstone neckpieces and a lot of custom androgynous pieces such as an animal skull neck chain, bones (not real of course), owl and spikes. Statement bling was heavy, chunky, bold and complemented your outfit. Another quick trick was to layer two or three neck chains to give that chunky feel.

Photos; Internet sourced

Nail Art 
Nail Art was just as bold as the statement jewellery was, with new innovations and quirky designs such as the stiletto nail and the Christian Louboutin nail. The stiletto nail was your traditional French manicure but with stiletto inspired tips instead of the traditional square. The Louboutin nail was truly inspired by the Christian Louboutin red sole; the insides of your nail are of course painted red like the infamous red sole, and well the outside is any manicure colour you desired. Other fun nail art was to go monochrome with one solid neon or deep colour (oxblood, ombre or silver), OR either two-tone colours by going dotty with polka dots or having fun with stripes. So really, you could express your personality through nail art.

Photo Courtesy of Pinterest
I only took notice of Aviators when I witnessed just how popular they have become in Harare. So I’m sure all of us now that Aviators are synonymous with pilots and the police force (in America of course) but if you follow fashion religiously then you would also know that aviators are a bold statement piece that has stood the test of time. So in 2014, get a pair of aviators (note to self and to you).

Aviators on Rihanna
Short Hair 
I’m not only writing this because I have short hair and cut my hair as well, but yes short hair was the way to go in 2013. Ladies had their pixie cuts and excel and well the gentlemen were already ahead of the pack! I personally have grown to like short hair because it is functional, fuss free and super friendly on your pocket; but this is not a guarantee that I won’t grow my hair in 2014. Popular short hair trendsetters I picked up where Gail Mabalane, Pokello and Chrissette Michele with her beautiful honey/blonde brown haircut in that Forever ever ever video, and of course myself. I haven’t been too afraid to show that I cut my locks.

The Cuff Sandal 
The cuff sandal-strap heel is just stylish and modern. I adore this petite heel because it’s classy and versatile, and I believe it works with just about anything. It can be both fun and serious, and has a great transition from day to night. It’s not too high and not too low, kinda that pretty heel that HAS to be a staple piece in your closet. Shoe lovers know that Rihanna was the epitome of this shoe. I could see myself in my blue summer frock with this heel!

The Winter Cape Coat 
The Cape coat isn’t your ordinary buttoned up winter coat, and that’s what I love about it. It’s got wide exaggerated arms and a cinched in waits. I’m only writing about this because I bought a cape coat for the winter and I love it. A lot of people thought I was crazy (including my dear mom), but I know this is one piece that will come back because there’s just something about it that makes it a wow factor.

The Flaired Denim 
Stop the skinny jean for a minute and put some flair in your step! Basically go retro and tuck in your shirt into your pants to give you an elongated illusion and look Glamorous! What’s great about flair denim is that they look great on pretty much every bum, and that flair at the bottom draws more attention to the cut of the jean and the design, not soo much the curve (if you get what I mean).

So there you have it, my Glamlist! Running down some of the trends in 2013. I think this fashion era is my best era yet because a lot of the 1950s  and 1980s silhouettes and cuts are coming back in a big way; and knowing that I adore the 50s era, for this moment I’m having a ball with fashion right now. 2012's Glam list also featured a few 1950s inspired trends, so you can look back there to get a better feel.
All the same, here’s to another trend watch in 2014!
Stay Gorg and Glam,

Highlights Of The Year 2013

2013 was a year filled with a lot more downs than ups, but with some negative energy, there’s always something positive to remember. So for 2013, here’s my list of top highlights;
My Pixie Cut 
Greatest decision I have made was finally getting an edgier shorter crop. I had always admired Halle Berry and Pink’s hair, not forgetting South-Africa’s Gail Mabalane (nee Nkoane). So this year in March I took my Glamour magazine and last bit of my salary for that month and went to the Scandals salon by the Travel Plaza along Mazowe street in Harare and chopped off my locks! Best moment for me for just those two months and I got the most overwhelming response because I found a look that I really liked. Unfortunately after just two months, I chopped off all my hair and since then I’ve been planning a comeback (crosses fingers it happens in 2014).

Deck Magazine Feature 
Second best highlight for me was the feature of my blog post on “There’s just something about African Print and Pink Lips”, on the online magazine Deck Magazine. That awesome feeling lasted for about two weeks for me because my usual platform was on JEWEL magazine, so it was a lovely experience branching out on a new platform. A big thanks to the Deck magazine team and their founder Gilmore T Moyo @GilmoreTee.
Fashion weekend Zimbabwe 2013 
Fashion Weekend Zimbabwe 2013 was the most anticipated fashion event for the year alongside Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2013. Having started its promotional preparation in January 2013 with the notion of a 3 day weekend fiesta in October; it moved along during the year with Designer competitions and a press conference breakfast that saw the date changing to a one day evening event with luxe gala tickets and a fab dinner. As any new event it had it glitches and flaws but on my part I think it went absolutely well, especially for a first timer and a newcomer for Shamiso Ruzvidzo. It brought new design innovations to the table and opened our eyes to new designers. The theme was also intact with that fusion of fashion, food and music, with the fashion being centrally focused on local proudly Zimbabwean designs. Unfortunately I didn’t have the buffet dinner since I was media, but from my view it looked quite scrumptious and well-executed. Not only that but I also thank FWZ for the new friendships I have brewed with the designers. Here’s to looking forward to a big and fab FWZ 2014 (I hear preparations are already underway).

Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2013 
2013 was the year I attend my first shows to Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2013. Unfortunately ZFW did not live up to its “premier fashion show” expectation. Most of the fashion shows were behind schedule by two hours to the least and there were quite a few slip ups on the runway by the models. Furthermore the designer capsule outside the tent was poorly exhibited. The brighter side though was that the designers brought their designs to life and I particularly enjoyed the Young Designers Programme and Znorzi Adby. Furthermore Gavin Rajah’s collection stole the show and I also heard Tamara Dey and her band, The Flash Republic gave a stunning performance that evening (I still kick myself till this day for not getting that photo op with her!! Dear, God!!!). I’m hoping ZFW switches it up and brings their ‘A’ game in 2014 because I still believe in them. Every now and then we all stumble and fall, and for ZFW it happened in 2013; so here’s to crossing my fingers for a stellar performance planned for 2014.

My Pink and Tuxedo blazers 
How can yours truly end this list without the one thing that dominates my closet and the one trend that I have traditionally followed as  a young woman?! Oh yes, I LOVE my blazer jackets and my collection continues to grow. Last year it was all about my grey blazer with the leopard print lining (love it to bits), this year I flooded my blog with my blush pink blazer from Truworths; and just recently I purchased my very first tuxedo blazer in green for Christmas (which I wore before Christmas by the way). I think blazers will always be timeless, they work with anything and everything and you can shift them from day to night, from the office to the happy hour! In 2014 I must save for an African print blazer.

So there you have it! Signature Toscie’s annual year-end Highlights for the year. 2013 showed some testing times but I still raise my glass to new awesome and memorable discoveries for 2014.

Yours in Glamour,

My Weekend Ensemble: Red and Stripes

My last Weekend Ensemble for 2013; I wore this look the Sunday before Christmas. I must say I must give myself a round of applause because I am doing a very good job transitioning from always wearing denim and pants to appreciating more skirts and dresses as of late. I guess it’s just part of growing up!

This ensemble was a very bold risk for me because I have never worn red nor do I own anything in the colour red; my sister chose the red blouse for me during an impromptu shopping trip. The striped bodycon skirt is from Jet stores Harare and I bought it because it had this allure of quirky and edginess to me when I first saw it; not only that but also another reason is that I love stripes. So I would like to think that this look embodies a lady-like edginess because I’ve a vintage red blouse on, paired with a striped skirt that has a killer zipper detail at the back; topped off with studded pumps (also from Jet) and my signature spiked necklace. The black is embodied in my black tote and I reserve a little class in my oversized Mr. Price sunglasses (Lord, bless these sunglasses because he knows how much I love them and how much they take care of me and further how much they are a prominent feature on the blog...Love love them).

I love how my style has evolved this year, particularly in the latter part of the year. I’ve been trying to master Parisian Chic (as most of you know I am an avid lover of French fashion and it's cuisine), so I try to incorporate a little bit of French, African and an edge to create the Signature looks you see on the blog.

So here’s to more Fabulous (local) Fashion in 2014 (and more growth in style). I’m always excited to share my looks with you!

Yours in Glamour…

Tendai Sophia.