Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Lifestyle Writer
Is it the popular American media personality and model Kim Kardashian on that billboard?
Before the intersection of Borrowdale Road and Churchill Avenue in Harare is an imposing billboard of a svelte and light-skinned model that turns heads.
The billboard is inscribed — “Maison Du Style”, meaning House of Style.
One cannot help, but notice the many faces of Lorraine Mugariri-Swanepoel, a fashion designer, model and businesswoman.
As if this was not enough, Lorraine shut down social media last year when she married president and chief executive of Indigo Group of companies Jason Zhuwao Swanepoel.
She posted her pictures with friends donning purple African attire on their lobola day.
The design became an instant hit with most young girls who were getting married trying it out.
But who is Lorraine Mugariri-Swanepoel?
Where does she get money enough to stay on a billboard for a long time?
What does she do?
By the way, it costs US$350 per month to be on that billboard, yet alone she has been there for almost a year-and-a-half.
Saturday Herald Lifestyle caught up with Lorraine who was spotting a blonde hairstyle, wearing a black beret with a matching short red dress, showing of her flawless pale brown legs.
The moment she entered The Herald newsroom, all eyes were trained on her.
“Do not refer to me as a slay queen or socialite. I am an entrepreneur and a fashion icon. People do not know the difference between a socialite and a businessperson, hence the term is used wrongly in the media,” she said, wearing a broad smile as she greeted this reporter.
Lorraine is into goat rearing, fashion designing and has a branding and media consultancy company.
“I am worth over a million dollars. I have billboard infrastructure, land properties, business and a lot of farming projects. I am surprised with what people have been speculating that I am a party person, slay queen and all that. I am a hard-worker and my husband can testify,” she said.
Though recently she hosted Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure’s all-white private boat party on New Year in Victoria Falls, Lorraine vehemently denied that she is a socialite.
“I do not usually attend parties unless if I am hosting that party. I was approached by Ginimbi and I agreed,” she said.
As a businesswoman, she pointed out, there were many challenges that came along the way, but with the help of her husband she remained strong.
“The fact that I am a woman threatens a lot of men. I can see that sometimes in meetings, but I am not much intimidated by that,” she said.
Lorraine said she was a philanthropist who had conducted empowering sessions on the girl child.
“I have hosted an empowering and mentorship programme at Chisipiti Senior Girls school where most of them are aspiring fashion designers and business personalities.
“I am working on hosting another session in months that involves a lot of young girls. I also pay school fees for some girls at rural schools. I value philanthropic work more because it makes me who I am,” she said.
On the fashion side, Lorraine said she was more of a handbag person.
“My husband always complains about my shoes. I am left with about 65 pairs in my closet because I give away to friends and relatives.
“In fact, I have lots of handbags which match my outfits. My role model is United States actress Sarah Jessica Parker because she is a brand in all areas from fashion to acting.
“Above all, she is a mother and wife. Creating such a balance is definitely something to admire,” she said.
She said her signature look was her pink hairstyle and said she was self-inspired.
“I love pink, I would die not wearing pink. But I also wear blonde and brunette hairstyles,” she said.
Lorraine said she closed her fashion store Maison Du Style to focus on her business.
“I used to dress a lot of celebrities, some who have made a name through my brand.
“I do not have a favourite fashion brand apart from mine — Maison Du Style. I dress and style myself and Jason.
“I grew up admiring the late Karl Lagerfield of the popular Channel brand, but I am more of Karl though. Given a chance I would like to dress Kim Kardashian and Asap Rocky,” she said.
The bubbly businesswoman said she is set to launch her new fashion collection next month entitled “Shell”.
She however, refused to shed light on this.
“It is work in progress and will share the details soon,” she jokingly said.