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Dress to express

Krugersdorp North’s busy bee fashion designer, Shené Olivier is radiant, sincere and full of fiery passion for her career … She tells us more about her green fingers, a famous lookalike and how she got to know herself.

Shené was born to design. She was privileged to discover her love for designing very early in her life when she used to cut up dresses and clothes to make new outfits as a little girl.

‘I always knew I wanted to design clothes, so naturally, I went on and studied BA Fashion Design. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to design because I realised that commercial clothing isn’t for me, so I tried making beautiful one-of-a-kind creations. I fell in love with making dresses and the rest is history.’

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She started making dresses in 2016 and opened Shené Vyver Couture in 2017. She and her assistant make more than 100 dresses every year (yes, 100 dresses!). Most are for clients, but she has a few of her own passion-projects … Her designs are truly breathtaking and make every matriculant, model and bride that wears them feel fabulous, feminine and unique. At 25, Shené has already established her own style and a lot of people can recognise her designs. She uses a lot of floral patterns, beads, lace, and layers. What makes her designs stand out above the rest, is how she combines the different details in the dress.

‘I got married a year ago and was lucky enough to be able to design and make my own wedding dress as well as dresses for my five bridesmaids, my mother, and my grandmother. I was under a lot of pressure because everyone expected a spectacular dress. At the end of the day, I decided not to worry about what everyone else said, as long as I felt beautiful. It was loads of fun to make my own dress and I had a fairytale wedding.’

What made her day even more special was her mother wearing one of her dresses. She describes her mother as a ‘plain Jane’, though she looked spectacular on Shené’s wedding day.

‘Anyone can make a beautiful dress, but what matters most is how it makes that person feel. I know the dress I made for her meant a lot to both of us and that’s why it’s my favourite dress I’ve ever made.’

Shené’s gorgeous wedding dress. Image: Celeste Cilliers Photography.

She sees herself as being privileged in every aspect of her life. From the very start of her career, her parents have supported her by helping her study and start her business.

‘I would not have come this far in my career at such a young age without their emotional and financial support. I love them to bits.’

She has also done her fair share of modelling and we have to admit, she has the face for it. As soon as she got comfortable in front of the camera, she got involved with Reflekt Model Management where she shares her knowledge and judges competitions.

‘With one foot in the fashion industry and the other in modelling, I also got the opportunity to design outfits for Top Model South Africa which was very good exposure for me and my business.’

In 2017, she appeared on the television screens of many South Africans

during the first TV-series of kykNET’s Sarie Voorbladgesig. It was the fourth time Shené entered the competition and she made it to the Top 10. It was also the first time the competition was broadcast on TV, and although she didn’t win, she learned a lot about herself.

‘Seeing yourself on TV makes you realise how other people see you and in my case, it was a very good thing. It was very inspiring and empowering, because the show sent the message that anyone can look fabulous when their hair and make-up are professionally done. The whole experience made me a stronger woman and I’ll do it again any time.’


Shené is one of the few people we have ever met that looks just as good barefoot as in glamorous heels. She calls herself a flower child, not only because she is obsessed with pretty floral patterns, but because she also loves to get her hands dirty.

‘I have green fingers, so I unwind by taking a walk through the garden or even doing a bit of gardening. I share my garden and home with my Bengal kitten and handsome hubby. After a year of married life, I can say that it is not what I expected at all, but I enjoy every second of sharing my life with him.’

Her husband says she looks like Nigella Lawson and ironically, she is just as good a cook …

‘I love hosting people in our home. We make enough food for an army and it’s usually Pinterest-inspired meals. Our friends and family usually come and stay over for a whole weekend because they don’t want to miss out on any of the food.’

Shené might be down to earth, but she adds a bit of sparkle to everyone’s day, especially her clients. A lot of people have specific career goals but Shené just wants to do what she loves and help people through it. She says that her career is an extension of her Personality and as long as she can keep on creating beautiful dresses for special women, she’ll be happy.

‘Yes, creating dresses for my favourite celebrities would be exciting but being a designer is much more than that. I work with a lot of women and they share a lot with me. Self-esteem plays a big role in any woman’s life and I believe that the world would be a better place if we all gave ourselves a break. For me, success is building relationships with my clients, contributing to their special days and helping them build their self-esteem by just being a friend to them.’

Snippets:
What is #1 on your bucket list? A month-long vacation without my phone.
What is your biggest fear? Dying without leaving a legacy.
What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned? Always be kind because you don’t know what people are going through.
Who do you want to design an outfit for? The iconic and fabulous Nataniël …

Details: www.shenevyvercouture.com or follow her on Facebook, ‘Shené Vyver Couture‘.

Text: JACO-MARI HAASBROEK. Photographer: JACO BOTHMA. Hair: ANTOINETTE DE BEER. Make-up: KAILA BOTHA.

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