SARAH LANGA: MAR/APR COVER
Photography by Austin Malema
Styling by Chelsea Pitt & Nkuley Masmola
Makeup by Katlego Lekalakala
Words by Naledi Sibisi
By the time I walk into the dimly lit room, Sarah is already in her first look. The dress styled as a skirt to complement her height also forms part of Mozambican fashion designer Shaazia Adam’s Autumn/Winter 2019 Runway Collection. She is stroking her long blonde wavy hair while we contemplate over where we have met outside of this space. The Johannesburg born Stylist and Blogger has consistently grown her brand over the years in the world of luxury influencing – with ambassador roles including: Picot & Moss, Woolworths A/W 2015, Witchery S/S 2016, Vince Camuto, Brutal Fruit and Stylista. She also owns a self-titled website that offers a more personal glimpse into her life. Sarah tells me that she was raised in Yeoville with her mother and older sister. “I have always been a city girl. I went to United Church School and I matriculated in 2010. I then went on to study my BA in marketing and psychology at The University of the Witwatersrand”.
Her suggestions, commentary and ideas throughout the morning emphasize how deeply entrenched she is in the fashion world. Sarah’s relationship with styling garments began early on in her childhood. “I have always loved fashion from a young age”, she states. “I was notorious for taking scraps of fabric to make myself dresses. I grew up around fashion. My grandmother was a dressmaker and designer while my mother did all of her beadwork. It only made sense for me to be in the fashion industry. My first year of university was academically an absolute failure but I learned so much about myself. I used that time to discover all of these digital media platforms where I could share my love and passion for fashion. Eventually my following grew and that defined who I am now and what I currently do”.
As she sits in the makeup chair, Sarah is gradually more at ease in the location that was giving her the creeps just a few minutes prior. She later cites this as the most interesting thing that she has seen in a while. The Lindfield Victorian Museum in Auckland Park is owned and managed by Katherine Love. “The house has been owned by her family for three generations, making it just over one hundred years old. It is probably one of the oldest preserved houses in the city. It literally feels like stepping back in time. It was so interesting to see all these untouched collective items from the 1800s and all of the history that she has brought to life. I have never seen anything like that before”. This is one of the many things I have come to enjoy about Sarah. Her curiosity and commitment to researching any and all the spaces she finds herself in is a true testament to the passion she has for what she does. This morning she is exhibiting a bolder and more editorial look as opposed to her signature, low-key ‘no makeup, makeup’. “I love being able to explore the more systematic and analytical side of me while still being a creative. Influencers and bloggers take for granted how creative the space requires you to be. The most interesting part is my connection to people through my creativity. Whether it is editing techniques, styling, production or even just humorous captions. It’s interesting to see how I have managed to find my voice in this space and the fact that people are actually listening to what I have to say is my greatest honour and privilege!”. Once everything is complete, she joins us in the tea garden for her cover look. She almost robotically assumed position and the entire team is gasping as we witness every single shot and pose come out exactly as we wished-for.
Trying to find a suitable day of the week to fit into her schedule was understandably a difficult task. While glamour, traveling and attending events are one aspect of what we see on her social media feeds, Sarah is also currently working towards her MBA (Master of Business Administration) and PDBA (Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA). “Academics take up a large portion of my day. I spend most of my time engaging in research, syndicate meetings and studying. I also run an e-commerce business called Luvant. We specialize in consignment luxury goods. I have been spending a lot of my time focusing on growing this project and building the business. Content is very important to me. I maintain consistently sharing my eye for fashion through my social media channels so I always find fashion moments and inspiration that I can capture and share with my social media family. All of these activities in my life have found a way to integrate and become one. I have actualized my dreams and it makes me feel so happy to know I am able to marry all of my interests”. As far as who influences her during the course of her journey, Sarah dotes over her mother. She expresses that she has never met anyone who is as in love with fashion, style, self-image and creativity to that degree. “I think growing up around that informed a part of our value system. I was taught to influence my feelings and emotions through my appearance and how I present myself. I have gone through the most traumatic experiences in my life but knowing that I could always physically put myself back together again became such an amazing coping mechanism for me”.
With all of this new found knowledge, it only makes sense that for her next look she is appropriately placed in the library section of the abode. Sarah is in a Studio W printed dress paired with a belt from the aforementioned Shaazia Adam’s collection. She pretty much creative directs ninety percent of this portion of the shoot. While figuring out her poses at rapid paces, she is also simultaneously viewing each shot and making mental calculations as to how to make them even better. “Over time I have discovered just how carefree I am. My carefree nature has however gotten me into a whole lot of trouble in the social media space”, she chuckles. “I have always freely expressed my beliefs and feelings online because I believe my audience is my family. This has also taught me responsibility and humility. I have learned to constantly seek for knowledge and understanding of different perspectives. The responsibility that I hold is bigger than what I would have ever imagined so it is something that I will never take for granted”. At this point, a step ladder is brought into the room so she can be shot from a higher angle as per her request and we are all astonished at the final composition. I briefly question her as to whether she would formally consider modelling taking into account the fact that she is handling this whole process like a natural. She says that she has tried it but she does not particularly enjoy it as runway shows make her feel anxious. Above that, her schedule is getting busier by the day. “I’m never not working. But if I am fortunate enough, I love being outdoors! Having picnics and going to parks always takes me back to my childhood. I also love spending time with my husband. His presence is so relaxing. It puts me at ease and makes me feel at home no matter where we are”.
In 2016, Sarah married businessman Jehan Mackay during a weekend ceremony attended by Johannesburg’s elite social circles. She emphasizes that privacy is a privilege in her field. Because her husband is such a private person, she is extremely cautious when it comes to respecting his preferences. “Once you are in this sort of field, your audience will be in it with you. You must be aware of this from the beginning. Letting an audience of people into your life, everyday activities and in your personal space is something that can never be reversed. I always keep this in mind”. She also mentions that she will be hosting a series of masterclasses in the near future. The classes will be both informative and practical. Her aim is to apply the knowledge she has acquired along with her experience in strategy and marketing. “I would like people to remember the fact that I have never given up. To see something not work out the way you intended it would and still carry on is one of the hardest things. I want to make a difference and change the world. I am a fighter. I fight for my future - for a better life for myself as well as the people around me. I want people to remember the impact and forget everything else. I want to be able to drive emotion”.
For her final look, Sarah is wearing a Witchery Gathered Waist Dress. She has also just returned from Australia where she showcased the brand’s upcoming Autumn/Winter 2019 collection alongside fellow cover star Kefilwe Mabote. “My Witchery campaign was so exciting! I love brands that offer us a full-on experience; especially brands that are loyal to their brand advocates. I have been working for Witchery for three years now. It has been so exciting to get to travel with the brand, represent them on a global level, have the brand invest in me and even to just know all of the people that make the brand what it is today. It makes me truly fall in love with the brand and treat the campaign as a way of life rather than just a ‘gig’”. On what she would do if for some reason she experienced a decline in popularity, Sarah reverts back to the importance of research. “Get to know your audience, what interests them, how to capture their attention and what direction to take in terms of content, rankings and more. Learning about Instagram’s constant evolving algorithms is also important to make sure that you stay on track with the platforms growth”.
Sarah, in her entirety exemplifies the importance of how far constantly studying your craft can take one’s career. “A lot of people wouldn’t know that I did my first year in university four times. By the time my peers were graduating, I was still doing my first year”. During this time, she has still managed to build up such an impressive portfolio while furthering and concluding her studies. Her plans for the remainder of the year are to place a heavy focus on her academics. “I’m also looking at doing a lot more community uplifting programs with some of the brands I work with. In terms of social media influencing; I want to create more everyday organic content for my audience this year. Engaging with my audience is a top priority. I might do some more events where I can meet with my day ones and get to know the people who support me. At the moment, she is currently working with La Mer on an exciting upcoming campaign. “You can look out for a celebration with Jo Malone in April. You can also look out for projects with Witchery, TRESemmé, Plascon, Luvant and more”.
After just celebrating her birthday days’ prior, the celebration does not stop. As we wrap up her final segment, she leaves as with her final offering as she adjusts something on Kefilwe’s garment; making sure everything is styled to perfection.