Benina’s Creations Stir Interest
A flair for the arts and crafts led to the creation of a unique technique in clothing design by UKZN’s Principle Programme Officer (PPO), Ms Benina Mkhonto, who is based in the School of Nursing and Public Health (NPH).
The exclusive fashion wear, grounded in an African ethnic style, is impressive with the potential to compete on world markets. For now, fashion design is still a hobby for Mkhonto but her work has won the interest of many curious onlookers and fashionistas.
Benina’s Creations are handcrafted designs made free hand, using no needle, cotton or stitching. Rather, fabric is cut into the desired style and then knotted to ensure a comfortable fit; forming tassels.
Mkhonto, crafted her first dress at the age of 15 and won third prize at her school’s Arbor Day design competition for a creation made out of black bin bags and orange sacks.
With a flair for crafting, she went on to experiment with transforming women’s jeans into skirts and forming tassels on T-shirts.
Said Mkhonto: ‘In March this year, a friend of mine got married and I struggled to find a suitable outfit to wear to the wedding. I wanted something unique and trendy but with a distinct look that would set me apart. I then began crafting my first tassel dress and called it my Jungle dress.’
Since the beginning of April, Mkhonto has crafted more than 30 dresses and wears them regularly to the office, stirring the interest of colleagues and stakeholders at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences. Fabrics used includes leather, PU leather, velvet and jungle/army fabric – all bought from fabric factory shops.
Mhkonto stated: ‘My designs are a gift from God. I am guided by my spirituality and pray often for inspiration to create the ultimate unique design.’
A single mother to nine-year-old Azande, Mhkonto has an Honours degree in Sports Science and has been employed at UKZN since 2006 initially as a student mentor, then an Academic Development Officer and more recently a PPO managing a team of 10.
She is also a very active member of the Every Nation Student Christian Club at UKZN, otherwise referred to as “His People”, where she volunteers her time in community engagement projects around conflict resolution.
‘I love to design and craft and am so grateful to my colleagues, my leaders, friends, family and my church for their ongoing support.’
Words: MaryAnn Francis