The Intern | The Intern By David Tlale Eleventh Challenge
The Intern, The Intern By David Tlale, Challenge, Eleventh challenge, fashion design, fashion design challenge, behind the scenes, Marcel Swain, Heineken South Africa, Colin O’Mara Davis, Abner Makgamatha, Zené Stoltz, Monique Early, Wondermerk Studios, Greyscale Productions, Aspasia Karras, Marie Claire, Teboho Pheko, Sylvester Chauke, DNA Brand Architects
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Last week’s Cosmopolitan Challenge flashback was fabulous! And on top of that, it was a non-elimination round, which means we still have a Top 4! But let’s be honest, this is The Intern, and there’s no time to rest on laurels, and as we get closer to the finals, we all know that this is going to be a nail –biter of a ride! We opened with a relieved gang of Interns, again at their local coffee haunt. But this time, Nico joined them for an ice-cream instead of the usual coffee – after all, this is Jozi, and spring has arrived! They discussed the non-elimination round and what it meant for them to still be in the game. They chatted about being in the Top four, but all admitted to their focus being on the next round, and making it through to earn the distinction of being in the Top 3 of the inaugural season of The Intern By David Tlale. Soon Nico was escorting them on a walk the streets of the Maboneng District, asking them to describe what they see. Birds? Trees? Cars? “Nope,” said Nico, “it’s branding. Branding everywhere.” And that was the cornerstone of this week’s challenge.

The Interns headed back to the studio to meet up with David and a guest judge, who turned out to be Marcel Swain, the Marketing Manager for International Brands at Heineken South Africa; more specifically, the New Brands division, which includes Strongbow Apple Cider. Marcel is bringing his expertise in branding oneself into a commercial piece, and how to establish yourself as a brand. That’s when we knew this was going to be interesting this week! This week, it turns out the contestants will be battling one another by producing a fashion brand identity in the form of a designer bible, consisting of a look book and line sheet with prices pointed towards their corporate identity! Wowzers – that’s a lot on a young designer’s plate, even without the pressure of a competition! Then the Interns were off to a Masterclass on where and how to begin such a mammoth task! This challenge, it was revealed, was close to David’s heart, because and fashion school and given the educational system he had been through, he had never been taught the business of fashion, which is rudimentary to the industry. His education was focused on the design and fashion side, but not this fundamental and crucial aspect of the business. Guest judge Marcel spoke through how he and his team brand their products, aiming for ultimate success and longevity of the brand.

Now that the team have survived challenge after challenge, they were told, as well as fashion week, they would have to rebrand themselves in order to enter the competitive and gruelling world of the fashion business market. They huddled and discussed how daunting this challenge was, admitting that they were totally intimidated by this week’s task, but at the same time they were all excited to be going through it. What was evident though is whilst they were comparing notes, they were also sussing each other out as a competitor of one another. Straight to their workstations, and enter David, who sees they are stressed and super quiet. He quickly pulls them towards themselves to have a chat about their concerns. And they are soon reassured. A master mentor at work! Nico came in to check up on them, but also to give them a gift: four experts in the form of of graphic designers! Keletso got Colin O’Mara Davis who is the Creative Director at Wondermerk Studios. Kuena got Sir Abner Makgamatha, who is David Tlale’s Art Director. Cyla got Zené Stoltz and Sam got Monique Early, who is the Art Director at Greyscale Productions. Each of the contestants explained to their graphic designers what exactly they envisioned their branding to look like, and the graphic designers interpreted as far and best they can.

Some contestants were looking and feeling a little more positive than others, but it was clear exactly how demanding it is to get your branding, logo and graphics in synch with imagined ideals and concepts. When Nico came back to quiz the Interns, Sam seemed happy and upbeat along with Abner, but Cyla and Keletso didn’t appear to be too happy with their designs, They contacted the designers to come back in to go through their briefs, but Keletso seemed confused about what he wants. Were we seeing Frank tendencies emerging here? Cyla seemed to have trouble letting go of ownership and control over the process and trusting someone else to do the work for her. But, as David said, “You need to learn to let go and trust in the experts.” Good lesson! David comes back into the studio to check on the Interns’ progress. And let’s just say there wasn’t one aspect of their work her didn’t critique, keeping them on their toes. David takes his role as Devil’s Advocate, shall we say, very seriously! Shady! He then tells the contestants what the judging process will be like. This week there will be 5 judges as opposed to the usual 3. This, he said, is because the challenge is intense and essentially the Interns are presenting their brand – themselves – and their work to the world! Yikes! And he also told them the judges will, this week, question them on their work and the thought process behind it. No pressure, right? Soon it is Judging Day, and the nerves and stress are palpable. Again, there is a last minute rush to get everything don’t, having to bring not only this week’s requirement of a look book and designer bible to the judging table, but also their Mercedes Benz Fashion Week designs to be modelled. To add to the drama of the judging process, the ceremony is being held at abandoned warehouse! The other guest judges are announced, and they are Aspasia Karras, the editor of Marie Claire magazine, Teboho Pheko, and acclaimed Fashion Buyer, Sylvester Chauke, of DNA Brand Architects, and of course, Marcel Swain, whom we met earlier.

And here we go, the contestants are in the back and ready for each to take their model out and get their work and designer bible judged. First up is Sam followed by Cyla, Keletso and Kuena. It was soon obvious that the Interns were all so nervous that they struggled to speak to the judges in public. Of course, speaking in public is a core skill needed for the successful designer, but given their youth and inexperience, they actually did quite well, and we know that, if they work on, they will master in no time!

The judges’ final criticism was firm and fair; all did well, their storyboards looked great, but the judges were in agreement that their oratory skills needed work. Finally, it was time for the metaphorical drumroll, and the person going home was… No one! All four contestants were through to the final! In David’s own words, “Everybody in the world knew that this competition would end with a Top 3. Sorry, darlings. My name is David Tlale. I end with a Top 4. Bye, Beyoncé!” Nico brings the contestants back in for the judges feedback and to find out who will be going home and who will be going through to the finale. Judges finals words are that they did well, storyboards looked great and they can see their passion and talent, however they need to work on their public speaking. And the results….no one is going home! They are through to the finale. In David’s words “everybody in the world knows that the competition will end with a top 3. Sorry darling. My name is David Tlale I end with a top 4. Bye, Beyonce!”