What was the inspiration behind Anele’s dress? 

It all started with the silhouette of the dress. I’ve worked with Anele for a long time now, and she wanted to do a plunging neckline as we’d never done that before. I looked for a fabric that was bold and striking, that would make Anele stand out on the red carpet. I found two amazing pieces at Mintys Fabric in Durban that we both fell in love with. I immediately knew that we had a winner! 

I loved the movement of the ostrich feathers that was on the fabric and wanted to continue this with a more dramatic effect at the top of the dress and sleeves. I added hundreds of beaded strands, and must give a massive shout-out to my grandmother who helped put them together. 

READ MORE: 10 Things we learnt about February cover star Minnie Dlamini Jones

How long did it take you to make it? 

I literally had five days! Anele asked me on January 29 — I bought the fabric two days later and had the first fitting on 1 February. The second fitting was two days later and the dress was delivered on 5 February. 

Take us through the making of the dress. 

I had the advantage of knowing her body shape and had patterns ready. Once the first fitting was done and it was perfect, I started sewing the dress in the actual fabric, ahead of the second fitting. I then added the zip, finished the hem and hand-sewed the beaded appliqué motives on the top and sleeves of the dress. My grandmother and I then got stuck in on the hand-beaded strands to add the finishing touch.

Who is Juan William Aria? 

After completing my B.A. degree at LISOF in 2009, I established my business in 2010. I specialise in bridal, evening and special-occasion wear. Our studio is in Little Falls, Roodepoort, and I’m 31 years young!

READ MORE: “I can take whatever you give me – big or small – and make magic out of it,” says Nambitha Ben-Mazwi

Why did you choose fashion designing as a career? 

My uncle Gideon is a fashion designer and my biggest inspiration. I remember attending his fashion shows from the age of nine, and knowing that I would follow in his footsteps one day.