Our Interview with Grazia Columnist Asanda Sizani

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On the set of Solange Knowles’ recent music video ‘Losing You’, Asanda carries herself with a somewhat unsurprising elegance and chic air, one that’s quite fitting for Grazia Magazine’s latest columnist. Thus far Ms. Sizani’s career has been quite impressive, being the former Fashion Editor for leading women’s magazine ELLE South Africa, Fashion Editor of Drum magazine, City Press contributing writer, and contributing Fashion Editor of Edgars Club Man.

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Also highly marketable, Asanda has appeared in campaigns for brands including Dark ‘n Lovely, Levi Strauss and one of her own projects that we at The Cartoon Citizen are most fond of: a collaboration with Woolworths Studio W, creating the “Ask Asanda” digital campaign.

We’re drawn to her for more than her ability to commentate on the most recent fashion trends, Asanda complies with what’s considered a fashion rule of thumb – forward thinking.

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In honor of Women’s Day, The Cartoon Citizen speaks to one of South Africa’s leading ladies in the fashion industry.

Hlumelo N: Was your previous working environment as chaotically fast paced as i imagine it to be?

Asanda: The world of publishing IS fast paced but no two days are the same. There are busy running-in-heels days where everyone is on their toes, and tempers are high, especially when an issue is about to go to print. But there are also calm days when it’s all about admin, research, attending launches, brainstorms and meetings.

Hlumelo N: In comparison to the previous environment? What are your surroundings day to day?

Asanda: For the past four months I have been freelancing for various clients, and also working on my own projects. It’s a complete shift from how I have worked all these years. Some days are spent at the offices of the companies I freelance for. Sometimes I’m working from a coffee shop writing my weekly Grazia column. I am contributing text to Daniele Tamagni’s new book – a follow up to Gentlemen of BaCongo. Some days I meet with potential business partners and collaborators or researching opportunities. All this requires discipline and proving yourself from one project to the next as deadlines still need to be met. But I am also enjoying the luxury of time to pursue my own interests and dreams.

Hlumelo N: Everyone on our team appreciates and respects your work, particularly the website, your collaboration with Studio W and what you did at ELLE. Do you feel though, that you’re at your peak producing the columns you are for Grazia?

Asanda: Thank you. I am definately not at my peak, I am nowhere near the mark. Every day is about inching closer to the bigger goal. I am still paying my dues and have a lot more to learn and give. Of course I am thankful to Grazia for approaching me to write their weekly column. It’s an opportunity and platform I am very grateful for. Some of the influencial people I admire in the fashion industry like Suzy Menkes, Karl Lagerfeld, Dion Chang, Cathy Horn and André Leon Talley are Columnists.

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Hlumelo N: Where should one look in order to find the answers on how to dress practically but with style and affordable glamour?

Asanda: By discovering who you are and what works for you. It’s also about having the innate ability to marry high end with low, vintage with designer, thrift store finds with retail. Style goes hand in hand with effortlessness. I don’t believe in suffering for the sake of fashion. By suffering I mean going beyond your means financially just to impress others. Suffering is also not being true to your own style sensibilities and being uncomfortable as a result.

Hlumelo N: Your emphasis on elegance is a personality characteristic of sorts. What is it about the elegant perspective that you appreciate so much?

Asanda: I believe a woman should always be elegant. Elegance is defined as a refined quality of gracefulness and good taste. I aspire to that. I was brought up and surrounded by women of sophistication, style, and substance. I admire people who carry themselves with grace, treat others with kindness and respect, and never leave the house without their confidence and power.

Hlumelo N: That’s a perspective our Editor in Chief greatly respects too. I pondered on your July 2013 column in Grazia titled ‘May The Best Girl Win.’ You asked us (the readers) thought-provoking questions about Africa’s Next Top Model and on the model/fashion industry in general. “Do brains play any role at all? Do these competitions encourage rivalry amongst women? What characteristics should the winner embody? What role will European standards of beauty play?” Your ideas carry themes more complex than just fashion, particularly in this piece, (as complicated as fashion is). These are social issues you’re speaking on. Are you simply an all round intellectual?

Asanda: I don’t regard myself as an intellectual. I am just curious and like to probe.

Hlumelo N: Where do you shop when you’re in South Africa?

Asanda: I really don’t shop for clothing very often. But locally I love Kat van Duinen, Christopher Strong, Doreen Southwood, Suzaan Heyns and MaXhosa by Laduma. I love my sportswear, so I shop at Le coq Sportif and Adidas. I love Crabtree & Evelyn for teas and soaps; for skincare it’s Dermalogica and The Body Shop; Peter Mthombeni for ceramics and Sababa for cheesecake. I also simply must have a fresh bunch of tulips or cabbage roses from the Flower Market every Friday.

Hlumelo N: XXL sized coats (for Small or Medium sized women specifically) was great advice. What response have women given you for all your work?

Asanda: There has been good feedback thus far from my column in particular.

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Hlumelo N: You’re a fan of Maison Martin Margiela so we get along. We actually covered his work on our site. Who else are you really into? Even outside of fashion?

Asanda: I admire innovators, entrepreneurs, risk-takers and doers. I have many heros in various fields like aviation, technology, business, film, music, art, design and fashion. People who went through difficult circumstances to chase their dreams and turned them into a reality. People who have or will leave a legacy. I respect rebels like Renzo Rosso, visionaries like the late Mike Ngxokolo, philanthropists like Bono, storytellers like Ed Suter, forward-thinkers like Bernard Arnault and many others who are quietly working to change the world. I look up to people who feel the responsibility to contribute to the world and change things. The kind of people Steve Jobs described as “the crazy ones.” He continued to say, “the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward.”

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Hlumelo N: How was it working with Solange Knowles? You met a lot of other really cool people, yeah?

Asanda: I have been fortunate to have interacted with some interesting people like Dr Auma Obama and Hikaru Noguchi. Solange is very intelligent, ambitious and fun. It was a pleasure to be with her and her mother on the set of ‘Losing You’. This month I met Kimathi Jeffrey from Kenya, who handcrafts incredible sustainable luggage from the fibres of baobab trees. I think he is one of the people that will help redefine the meaning of African luxury. It’s always a blessing to be in the same room as people like that, to hear them speak about their dreams and get to know who they are.

Hlumelo N: What do you base life success on?

Asanda: Being fulfilled, self-satisfied, having inner peace and knowledge that you have done your ultimate best. Success is being so accomplished that you are able to help those around you with resources and opportunities, and to also help them realise their purpose and full potential.

Hlumelo N: I liked your Style For Less shoot. November 2012, yeah? What’s the atmosphere like with the photographers, the models, hair and make-up and catering?

Asanda: Thank you. When you work with a good team that is on the same page and working towards a common goal, you are able to produce a successful editorial. I like positive energy, good music and food on set. I recently worked on an Edgars Summer 2013 campaign. There was such great energy on set. It became a fun and easy three days because of the team. Look out for the campaign in every Edgars store, windows and billboards nationwide this Summer.

Hlumelo N: Are you doing any more traveling this year?

Asanda: Yes. I was recently in Berlin. I think I will be in New York next month and Lagos in October. I hope to go back to Germany before the end of the year, while my visa is still valid, LOL!

Hlumelo N: Thank you so much for your time Asanda. Bigger things are coming your way and we’d love to keep in touch.

Please check out Asanda Sizani’s site, http://www.asandasizani.com and follow her on twitter.

Hlumelo Ntsokolo
Yoshi Monday
Edited by Jonathan Lubala

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