Fashion designer, David Tlale, and artist & sculptor, Jean du Plessis, join artistic forces to create a legendary lifestyle range for the 5-star Riboville Boutique Hotel to tell a story of collaboration, innovation, and “Holding Onto Each Other”.

David Tlale is known as the King of Fashion. Over the last decade, David has established himself as one of the leading fashion designers on the African continent. Similarly in his legendary status is Jean du Plessis: an artist and sculptor who bends the boundaries of minimalistic art, just as he bends and moulds the metals he works with. The two artists have come together to tell a story of unconditional support at the Riboville Boutique Hotel in Johannesburg. Before the launch of their collaborative collection, The Insider SA got to know the two legends a bit better.

David Tlale’s journey started in 1993 when he was stuck studying auditing. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, David dropped out to study fashion without any hesitation. “I discovered my passion, and beyond anything else, my calling”, David shares. “In 2003 I entered the ELLE New Talent Competition at South African Fashion Week. That’s basically how I launched the brand David Tlale”.

Almost two decades later, and David Tlale is celebrated as one of the greatest African fashion designers.

David Tlale has gone international. From Paris Fashion Week to Dubai Fashion Week, he’s hit them all. Since going global, David Tlale has been awarded Designer of the Year at the African Diaspora Awards held in New York City. Time Magazine has also named David one of the designer’s that are influentially shaping Africa’s fashion landscape.

David’s high-end fashion is edgy, innovative and continues to push boundaries in its structure and design. These characteristics are what drew David to collaborating with a like-minded artist and good friend, Jean Du Plessis.

Coming from an artistic family in Stellenbosch, Jean grew up surrounded by inspiration. Jean is a minimalist whose art is simplistic – but only in appearance. Jean finds beauty in life’s imperfections. His work serves as a pursuit to capture emotion, using a variety of materials to define a new type of aesthetic by adopting a visceral approach to creating art that doesn’t conform to any norms.

“I’d like to think that my strengths are in three-dimensions – in other words, sculptural work made my hand”, Jean explains. “I love metal as a material, what it can shape into and what it can become. This process also relates to how I view myself”.

For Jean, his appreciation of life and all that it’s given him acts as his greatest form of training. “I have a multitude of influences: a story I heard, something I read, a book of poetry, or even other artists and what they’re doing”.

Jean explains the idea behind his and David’s joint collection, saying, “The title of our show is Holding onto Each Other and that, in essence, has got to do with our humanity, our involvement with the people around us, but also being appreciative of friendship”.

Together, their exhibition left South African moguls, celebrities, influencers speechless at what SA artists truly have to offer. Mr World SA, Fezile Mkhiza, comments on the “one-of-a-kind line”, saying, “Seeing how it’s come together between the two of them really shows that within the industry, there’s so much synergy that can be found”.

Owner of the hotel, George Sinovich, wanted to infuse art into his guests’ stay, sharing, “We feel that David is one of South Africa’s best fashion designers, if not the best. As is Jean du Plessis, who is a very underrated artist. We wanted to give them the platform to showcase their talent, both locally and internationally to all our foreign guests and patrons”.

David concludes sharing his final thoughts on the collaboration: “The relationship between the art and our fashion creation was done through inspiring one another. It’s a symbol of holding hands during these tough times as we support and carry one another. Tonight is a pure testimony of saying there is hope in this industry; there is hope for us as artists and designers – we just have to keep on supporting one another”.