Sasha-Lee Laurel Olivier, voted one of the most beautiful women in the country at the Miss South Africa competition, jetted off to London yesterday to begin pre-preparation for the Miss World pageant to be held on December 14.
She flew out of South Africa armed with the good wishes of South Africans and a Beauty with a Purpose campaign that is destined to have a profound effect both locally and internationally.
Sasha-Lee is a survivor of sexual assault, she was repeatedly raped from when she was 7 until 11.
She said: “I was not believed when I reported my abuse and, for years, I thought that it was my fault. It is why my campaign #ItsNotYourFault is designed to support those who have had a similar experience; I want them to know they are not to blame.”
Her efforts are being supported by The Angel Network and active citizen Penny Stein who are helping her reach out to sexual abuse survivors across South Africa, with the distribution of thousands of Rape comfort packs.
“People who have been sexually hurt need the restoration of a little dignity when they have to report their abuse. These packs aim at doing that,” she said.
Beauty with a Purpose is a crucial part of the Miss World Pageant, with the organisation continuing to support and fund the winner of this segment.
Sasha-Lee’s suitcases are packed with a wardrobe that has been designed by renowned couturier, Ryan Keys from Keys Fashion.
Werner Wessels, well-known pageant coach and stylist said he chose Ryan Keys to create Sasha-Lee’s wardrobe because “he is known for luxury and his sophisticated use of incredible textures. It’s why he was the perfect choice to create the elegant gowns that will compliment Sasha-Lee’s beauty.”
Describing the style and feel of Sasha-Lee’s look, Werner said: “Miss World is known for elegance and sophistication and Sasha’s wardrobe will reflect just that. As a woman who embraces her curves, her wardrobe will be filled with figure hugging pieces to amplify that.”
Ryan Keys, designer to the stars, is no stranger to creating garments that are the talk of the couture world long after the fashion show is over. He was a huge hit at London Bridal Fashion Week earlier this year where he showcased 25 of his beautifully crafted wedding gowns, alongside the bridal collections of international designers Zac Posen, Marilee, Allure and Theia.
He said Sasha-Lee made his task of designing signature pieces “very easy”.
He said: “I’ve designed every piece to suit Sasha-Lee, taking into account her body shape, her personality, her very unique style.
“She will look beautiful in everything she wears, but I guarantee that the gown that I have created for her to wear for the Miss World final will blow everyone away. It’s a very special garment.”
Said Sasha-Lee: “I’ve been for fittings with Ryan and I can tell you that South Africa is in with a very good chance for taking the Miss World Designer Award this year. The dress is stunning. I feel wonderful in it.”
Included in Sasha-Lee’s suitcase is a very trendy pair of gumboots, a necessary item for the Gumboot Dance she will perform as part of her Dances of the World routine.
She has been preparing for the movement spectacle with choreographer Ryan Hignett who says they chose this dance because it was born out of pain and struggle, mixed with joyfulness, in apartheid South Africa.
Ryan said: “The combination of hardship and exhilaration tells a South African story, which is why the gumboot dance has such a significant place in South African history.
“Obviously this is a variation on the traditional dance performed by men who worked in the gold mines during the migrant labour system in the days of apartheid.
“Knowing Sasha-Lee’s own journey of pain, we have worked on a dance that shows strength and power. Since this dance is usually performed by men, and since Sasha is breaking stereotypes, it’s the perfect dance for her.”
Said Stephanie Weil, CEO of the Miss South Africa Organisation: “We know that when Sasha-Lee walks onto the Miss World stage, she wants more than to win the competition. She has a fervent desire to make a difference in the lives of women, children and men who feel alienated, alone and filled with self-loathing after being sexually abused.
“We wish her all the best as we support her endeavours.”
Sasha-Lee follows in the hallowed footsteps of past Miss South Africa winners who have gone on to wear the Miss World Crown.
Miss South Africa 2014, Rolene Strauss, won the Miss World title in London, in 2014.
Preceding her as Miss World 1974 was Anneline Kriel and before her, Penny Coelen in 1958.
WHERE TO WATCH
15:00pm to 18:00PM
Issued by the Miss South Africa Organisation.