When journalist, publicist and accessories designer Maria McCloy moved to Jo’burg in 1997, it was the vibrant and exciting Yeoville that appealed to her most. Photographs by Anil Chawla
Maria McCloy is known for her passion for imbibing the cultural and traditional prints and patterns of South Africa and presenting them on accessories like necklaces, earrings, bracelets etc as well as on bags, clutches and even shoes. A publicist in South Africa, she moonlights as a designer and has a passion for tribal prints.
“I’ve always loved accessories and clothes, especially Indian and African things,” she says. While she enjoys colours and bold accessories of Rajasthan, Africa remains her inspiration. “We have amazing traditions, aesthetics, and skill that I infuse into my work—from Moroccan items, Zulu beadwork, Himba dress in Namibia, West African swag to Ndebele wall painting, Basotho blankets, Malian silver and gold, and Ghanaian Kente cloth.”
She started small by selling earrings, vintage bags and clothes to friends and colleagues. In 2011, she was working on the publicity of a Congolese film Viva Riva, and gifted the media a clutch with an African print. “I found a manufacturer and voila, a new Maria McCloy product was born. People loved my clutch bags, but adding shoes to my repertoire in 2012 is what really put me on the map.”
Maria has collected a lifetime’s worth of objets d’art from her travels through Africa and abroad. “I’d love to travel the world buying indigenous design in Africa, parts of Asia and Latin America. I bought some much-loved items in Lagos and in parts of India.” These items and travels inspire her to use these sensibilities in her work creating Maria McCloy a brand name in itself.
Wearing a Maria McCloy, you carry with you infused tribal and animal prints, beautiful colours and an immense passion for the South African culture.