Thebe Magugu, the designer behind the contemporary South African fashion brand primarily operating within the field of women's ready-to-wear, recently released its AW21 short film, titled Banyoloyi A Bosigo (Ultimate Midnite Angels) in the hopes of telling a “visceral story of African spirituality”.
THEBE MAGUGU'S 2021 AUTUMN/WINTER COLLECTION
Magugu, who is a young Johannesburg designer and winner of the 2019 LVMH Prize, went on to unveil his autumn/winter 2021 presentation in spectacular fashion during the digital Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday 2 March.
According to British Vogue, Magugu interviewed and underwent sessions with traditional healers to inform pieces that explore the changing face of South African spirituality for this collection titled Alchemy.
“It's quite a niche phenomenon,” the designer told the publication, “but one that is gaining a huge amount of public visibility.” Last season, Magugu drew on the lives of others – his counterintelligence-themed short film for spring/summer 2021 built on previous work inspired by the women of the Black Sash, a non-violent, anti-Apartheid resistance movement. In contrast, “this season circled back to me in a more personal way”.
And so, Magugu embraced the world of healers – an experience that's reflected in patterns created by pounding merino wool with healing mphepho or cannabis plants; and 3D knitted fabrics that mimic tribal scarification.
“African spirituality I can imagine sounds extremely general when heard by a foreign audience, but it is such a critical part of the local Black experience, and I am no exception,” Magugu says. “Although a large part of my upbringing was Christian, we did subscribe to certain parts of African spirituality. Every few years, my family and I must have a ritualistic ceremony as a celebration, and in thanksgiving to our ancestors,” the designer goes on. “This year, we missed it – all hell broke loose.”
To complete the collection, he enlisted textile makers in South Africa, Japan, and the Netherlands, but, according to the publication, the most intriguing of all is that the look was created in collaboration with traditional spiritual healer Noentla Khumalo, who uses bones as her means of communication.
“Posing the question, 'What now?' to the ancestors, Noentla threw bones onto a straw mat which I then photographed, abstracted, and printed onto wool suiting,” says Magugu, who describes the result – his favourite piece from the collection – as a “joint effort of fashion and spirituality” that is “up for interpretation by the wearer”.
Magugu said further that he wants to inform people on South Africa.
“People don't know about South Africa and I want to – in my own way – contribute to the knowledge sharing,” he says. “I think exploring the parts of our nation often left to history's margins – like the women of the Black Sash movement – not only is it [a form of] documentation, it's also an education for anyone who might not have known about it otherwise.”
PARIS FASHION WEEK GOES DIGITAL
In addition to Paris Fashion Week going digital, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Etro shows have all gone guest-free. Milan Fashion week has also significantly cut down the number of participating brands. When announcing the news, the French fashion's regulatory body confirmed that there can be no public gatherings” at Paris Fashion Week, adding that “houses can still organize 'real' runway shows with models broadcast live, provided that their events take place behind closed doors.”
Although Paris is technically not in a lockdown, stringent restrictions limiting movements are in place nationwide.