The fashion guru is currently at New York Fashion Week, where he will be working hard to impress with his first solo runway show at the highly anticipated fashion event starting today.
“For the past decade in my career, I’ve wanted to be noticed, not just as a ‘designer from Africa’ but as David Tlale,” he says.
“This is a huge opportunity for me to be among the biggest names of fashion.”
But this opportunity didn’t just fall into Tlale’s lap. Since he started going to New York for this event, he’s disliked the idea of being grouped into a category called “Designers from Africa”.
So for years Tlale has applied to have his name put on the same list with the likes of famous designers Donna Karan (DKNY) and Zac Posen.
This year, after being rejected many times, Tlale succeeded in his application and will be presenting an autumn collection called “Elementary Metropolis”.
“With this collection, I’ve taken away all the razzmattazz and created a ready to wear, urban chic collection that exudes luxury and elegance,” he says.
For perhaps the most significant runway show of his career, Tlale felt that it was time to demonstrate some growth and maturity in his work by focusing more on his craftsmanship than aiming to create drama on the runway.
“This collection is made for the woman who goes from having coffee with colleagues during the day to having cocktails at a red carpet event later,” says Tlale.
While he has dressed many high-profile South Africans, he admits that the first lady of the United States was the main inspiration for this collection.
“More than anything, I design for the classical woman of today,” says Tlale.
“Michelle Obama is the perfect example of sophisticated and stylish power dressing.”
As always, Tlale also aims to tell an African story with his collection.
“Designers like Louis Vuitton come all the way from the States to make use of all the great ideas on the African continent, ” says Tlale.
“I think its important for us as African designers to notice the value of our aesthetics.
“We need to show the world that African products are of high quality and can take a leading position when it comes to fashion.”
Tlale also hopes to be able to help other young African designers to establish themselves, but for now he is fully focused on his collection and is hoping that Obama likes it (and might pitch up for a show).