What Project Runway SA winner Kentse Masilo did next

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We chat with Project Runway SA winner Kentse Masilo about the competition, collaborating with Kelso and her future projects.
Since winning the first Project Runway SA in 2018, Kentse's launched her Kelso collection with Edgars, hosted a pop-up in Paris, and is soon headed for London. We caught up with her about collabs, upcoming collections and her highly anticipated next move.
You’ve had a busy number of years – from being a finalist at Sunglass Hut New Talent Search at SA Fashion Week in 2017 and winning the first-ever Project Runway SA in 2018 to hosting your debut pop-up in Paris. Where do you find the strength and motivation to perform under all that pressure?
Being a finalist in Sunglass Hut’s competition gave me the courage to apply for Project Runway to begin with. But my family is where I get my ultimate support – my grandmother who is a pillar of strength (I created my entire collection in her lounge), my father who has been there for me since the beginning and my sister who always makes sure I take the time to care for myself.

How did the collaboration with Edgars on the Kelso collection come about?
Collaborating with Kelso was one of the perks of winning Project Runway [...] Although I already had my own aesthetic, I was eager to draw inspiration from international collections and designers. I had the opportunity to travel to Paris and New York with Project Runway, where I actually met one of Paris’s biggest designers right now, Andrew GN.
Your designs are minimalistic, using neutral and natural colours. Should we consider this your staple aesthetic?
It’s definitely my aesthetic. I used eco-friendly fabrics to match my designs and aesthetic; I wanted an organic look and feel, which was inspired by the area I grew up in Bethanie in North West province, where there is a lot of dry land and green vegetation. My home village is a big part of why I am the designer I am.

You've hinted before that you will be showcasing a couture line next year. What can we look forward to?
I have been working with fashion blogger and style influencer, Kefilwe Mabote. You could call her my muse; her love for luxury fashion has actually inspired the entire 2020 collection.

We know you have a love for handbags. Can we expect to see a bag collection anytime soon?
Yes, a bag line is in the works. Because I’m in the luxury side of fashion I want to create a bag for the correct target market. It takes research and time to identify and know your audience. I want bags to be a separate side to my business.
Besides the couture line, what else can we expect from you in 2020?
I will be studying fashion abroad in London where I will be focusing on tailoring. The aim is to come back to South Africa with additional skills to teach to the next person.

What is your advice for the next generation in your village or somewhere similar with regards to their careers?
There are many opportunities and platforms such as Project Runway and Sunglass Hut New Talent Search that help young people. Take the first step and apply; put yourself out there. Go against all odds and keep pushing.

Any words of wisdom for the next Project Runway SA contestants?
Perfect your skills and practise, practise, practise! Work continuously; don’t just wait until the submission dates. And every day is a learning curve.

Images supplied.

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