Thebe Magugu

South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu with models wearing his Paris Fashion Week designs. Photo: Supplied

Praise from the president for Thebe Magugu’s wow debut on Paris catwalk

The talented fashion designer scored rave reviews in international fashion magazines for his debut at the recent Paris Fashion Week.

Thebe Magugu

South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu with models wearing his Paris Fashion Week designs. Photo: Supplied

So impressive was Kimberley-born designer Thebe Magugu’s new collection at Paris Fashion Week that even President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his congratulations. 

Fashion showcase with a difference

Magugu opted to deliver his eclectic range, titled Anthora 1 and Ipopeng, by using photographs taken in his home town as a backdrop for his models to showcase his designs. The visual presentation was unique and stood out as Vogue magazine gave Magugu a stellar review. 

“At just 26, Thebe Magugu gave one of the more effective presentations of Paris Fashion Week so far by simultaneously showing his Autumn/Winter 2020 collection and an exhibition of large-scale, photographic portraits and a film shot in his home village near Kimberley, South Africa,” the magazine stated.

Inspiration from everyday people

Of his project, Magugu wrote on Instagram that he was inspired by the everyday people in his life, including family and friends. 

“Ipopeng’s histories and people remain unwritten and overlooked. The disavowal of everyday township lives, of powerful personal stories and of extraordinary achievements reflects this ongoing dismissal both in South Africa and the world.

Powerful designer message

“This makes Ipopeng extension urgent, substantial and deeply political. The fashioned photographs script the stories of the landscape, the people, their faces, experiences and lives lived, and the faith and community that holds them together,” he said. 

Magugu first started making a name for himself in fashion after he won the coveted 2019 LVMH prize. The competition, which invites young designers from around the world to contest for a year-long internship, R4.8 million and mentorship from top designers at the luxury goods conglomerate, is highly esteemed.

Off White founder and Louis Vuitton men’s collection head Virgil Abloh was a finalist for the prize in 2015.

Colourful, layered SA history

Magugu studied fashion design, photography and media at the Randburg fashion design school LISOF and won the award for the best graduate collection.  He started his own fashion label in 2018 and said his clothing drew from South Africa’s layered and colourful history. 

“Together with our pillar values of quality, novelty and culture, we constantly seek new ways of presenting women with clothing that both complies with and enhances the everyday. Sleek, forward-looking design intersects with motifs from our continent’s storied past, providing smart, multifaceted clothes as valuable as their woman”.