A Rainbow of colour – 1st year shift dresses from Shweshwe

A couple of months ago, Hayley Hayes-Roberts hosted the Elizabeth Galloway first year students at the Slave Lodge Iziko Museum where they viewed the “Material women? The shweshwe story” exhibition. The goal was to familiarize them with the history of shweshwe fabric, as well as provide design inspiration for working with this characteristic African textile.

They also visited Mnandi Textiles in Observatory where each bought two or more different prints to use in a design for a shift dress. The selection process took some time, as the choice of especially shweshwe is so large, but finally everyone was happy and thoughts could turn towards the creative process.

Hayley Hayes-Roberts from Iziko Museums examining a design feature

As Hayley had expressed interest in seeing the final garments, she was duly invited to the Academy to do just that. And what an experience it was for our students! Hayley discussed each and every garment with its designer, enquiring about inspiration and choice of pattern, the difficulties encountered and solutions found. This made students think about and verbalise the rationale behind their design decisions, all while benefitting from her vast knowledge.

This project was not only beneficial to all concerned, but also a lot of fun.

All the garments:

  • All images courtesy of Tim Honey