Accountant Shamyra Moodley was on maternity leave after the birth of her son when she came up with an idea that would propel her into the world of fashion.
Born in East London, South Africa, along the Eastern Cape, she grew up watching her seamstress grandmother stitch together fabrics on a small old Singer sewing machine. “I would always let her do the sewing and I would say ‘No I’m going to cut and design’ – and I always do it that way,” she told adding that “I don’t like the technical side of sewing, I like it as an art form. I like the fluidity.”
Moodley eventually quit his job as an accountant to explore fashion. The 40-year-old says that after a year of writing, Laaniraani rose to popularity, marking her invitations to a multitude of fashion shows in South Africa.
Her formal introduction to the world of tailored clothing came two years ago when she made a skirt out of a purse and a bodice out of an old nursing bra, and she wore it to a fashion show.
“I have such fond memories of breastfeeding my son,” she said. “So, I thought, let me turn that into a top.”
In 2020, Moodley was selected as one of six finalists for a “Fastrack” program organized by African Fashion International (AFI). Through the program, emerging designers like Moodley are introduced into the business of fashion and given platforms to showcase their work. Organized annually, Fastrack has produced alumni like contemporary designers Rich Mnisi and Jessica Ross.
The designer, who describes herself as a “hybrid” of Irish, Indian and South African descent, also drew on a part of her Indian heritage for one of the looks in her Fastrack collection.
All Moodley outfits are handcrafted and created from donated or reusable fabrics. According to her, she grew up in a family where reuse of items and sustainable living were part of everyday life.
“I told myself, ‘You’re going to prove to the world that you can write a fashion blog, and spend nothing, buy nothing and essentially use what you have.’ So, I went on a fashion diet,” she explained.
Looking back on her journey from the accounting sector into fashion, Moodley remains faithful to her personal style when designing outfits to be showcased.