Keeping up with Kentse

What you need to know about the Project Runway SA season one winner

Kentse Masilo’s fashion-forward, origami-inspired creations wowed Project Runway South Africa judges from the first episode. And from the very beginning, Kentse made it no secret that she was here to claim her fame: “This is my game, I’m gonna take this home,” she declared, and that’s exactly what she did.

Now, as the winner of the first season of Project Runway SA, she’s not just taking it home, she’s also taking it to Paris, where she’ll showcase a pop-up store at Paris Fashion Week 2019. Here’s everything you need to know about SA’s next big designer.

She draws inspiration from South African women…

Women who stand out for Kentse are Carol Bouwer, Connie Ferguson, Basetsana Kumalo and Noni Gasa, but her biggest inspiration is Khanyi Dhlomo.

“I’m inspired by her business ethics. She’s humble, but her presence commands respect. And most importantly, she has vision. Honestly speaking, I’ve never seen anyone work so hard to get Africa to where it needs to be.”

Her love for origami started when she was in school…

As a designer, Kentse wants to develop a textile that doesn’t lose memory after it’s been folded – and all this started as a young schoolgirl who was fascinated with folding paper jets.

“I think my love for origami began when I went from making normal paper jets to attempting to create a paper version of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.”

She had the courage to choose creativity over financial security…

Kentse says that with her financial background, choosing creativity over security was not ideal and that studying fashion wasn’t really something that was encouraged. But she was driven and ambitious, so she took a gap year in between her studies to pay for her own fees.

“I remember there were times I literally lived from my bag, moving from one place to another in the pursuit of happiness. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I believe that the struggle made me resilient and persistent and that’s why I am where I am today.”

Words from Gert that she’ll never forget…

Kentse will always remember how Gert-Johan Coetzee, her mentor on Project Ruway SA, taught her that as a designer, she should never be afraid to push the boundaries. And now she’s ready to dream big.

“African fashion has what it takes to lead on a global scale and now there’s nothing stopping me from introducing new innovations, changing the face of African fashion and imagining Anna Wintour seated next to Khanyi Dhlomo at one of my fashion shows in Johannesburg during fashion week.”

She wants you to express your individuality too…

When asked how she wants people to feel when they wear her designs, the Project Runway SA winner says she wants people to feel strong.

“When I talk about strength, I mean the ability to effortlessly grab people’s attention and to elevate the expression of one’s individuality to positions of dignity.”

She can’t wait to turn up the heat…

Kentse finds it unbelievable that all the prizes she won on Project Runway SA were exactly the things she had always been working towards. But more than that, she now knows that she is capable of achieving greater heights.

“Project Runway gave me a voice and made all my dreams come true. I’m so empowered and so excited about Paris Fashion Week. I can’t wait to come back and turn up the heat!”

Project Runway SA is brought to you by Mzansi Magic and Ndalo Pictures, in association with 4th Street Wines. The production partner is Rapid Blue and sponsors include Edgars, Kelso Beauty, Tresemmé, Menlyn Park Shopping Centre and Lexus.