This fashion designer is honouring the style of District Six – FESCH.TV


District Six was once a zealous community united by a shared identity and culture. But the Cape Town suburb has a painful legacy. During apartheid, its residents were forcibly removed when the largely coloured neighbourhood was declared a ‘whites-only area’. For fashion designer Nuraan Mohamed, District Six became her muse. “My family’s history is etched in the District Six forced removals,” she says. “I wanted to focus my designs on the beauty of this community.”

On a trip to the District Six Museum, Mohamed found familiar reflections of her heritage and family, spurring the foundation of her designs. Reviving the style of the community, she wanted people to be able to relate back to its traditions, values, and ways of living.
Mohamed’s collection, ‘The working-class women of District Six’, honours this exuberant neighbourhood. Exhibiting the lives of its women, Mohamed also drew inspiration from Kewpie, a drag queen and hairdresser from District Six during the 1950s. “It was important for me to showcase what the time was like back then,” Mohamed says. She created the Kewpie coat, a melton garment featuring images of the Kewpie exhibition at the District Six Museum. In another piece, the print is symbolic of old cooldrink bottles that were manufactured in the area.

Mohamed’s collection is a celebration of this community’s heritage. “Despite being removed from their home, they still maintained their spirit and this is what I wanted to capture in my designs,” she says. Beyond its history of displacement, the vibrance of District Six lives on.

Footage by Ryno Stols was used in the creation of this film.

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