Masilo’s futuristic design aesthetic had the judges intrigued from the get go and last night, she walked away with the grand prize.

In all fairness, she had called it at the beginning of the season and now she’s headed to Paris Fashion Week next year, where she’ll have a pop-up store, courtesy of Ndalo Pictures, Elle South Africa and 4th STREET Wines.

In addition, she’s won mentorship and prizes worth over R400 000 from Edgars, a Lexus CT 200h luxury compact hybrid, a trip to New York Fashion Week with TREsemmé, R20 000 from TREsemmé to go towards its first showcase at SA Fashion Week, Kelso Beauty products worth R30 000 and a R10 000 shopping voucher from Menlyn Shopping Centre.

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“When my name was announced, I knew instantly that my dream has now turned into reality. I’m still trying to figure out the right words to explain what happened to me up there,” she says.

“But I was filled with gratitude because standing in front of four inspiring individuals who were basically telling me that they believe in me felt incredible.”

Mad about origami and incorporating into the garments she makes, Masilo says she made the decision to pursue a creative career over a more financial secure career path because she believed in herself. She says she’s better off from the hustle because it has taught her to be resilient.

“I remember there were times I literally lived in my bag, moving from one place to another in the pursuit of happiness. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because I believe that the struggle made me resilient and persistent and that’s why I am where I am today,” she says.

Reflecting on the competition she says the one piece of advise from mentor Gert-Johan Coetzee that she will carry into the next chapter of career is to never be afraid to push the boundaries and now she’s ready to dream big.

“African fashion has what it takes to lead on a global scale and now there’s nothing stopping me from introducing new innovations, changing the face of African fashion and imagining Anna Wintour seated next to Khanyi Dhlomo at one of my fashion shows in Johannesburg during fashion week,” she says.

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Looking forward, she says she wants to work with the youth of her hometown of Bethanie to play her part in developing skills and creating employment opportunities.

To designers wanting to enter the second season of Project Runway SA, Masilo advises that you start preparing for the ride now, so that by the time entries open, your portfolio is ready.

“Be brave enough to say that you want it and to not let other people’s insecurities distract you from doing what you need to do. Your dream will come true, you just need to work for it,” she advises.