Thebe Magugu | First African Designer to Win the LVMH Prize
At just 25 years old, South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu can already boast about having one of his creations in the permanent collection of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. The piece, a faux ostrich coat, entered the collection after featuring in the F.I.T.’s 2018 exhibition “Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color.”
Last year, Magugu was described as “the leader of his generation” by the judging panel of London’s International Fashion Showcase, where he was crowned winning designer.
What do you look to communicate as a designer?
My goal is to create clothes that merge my South African heritage with contemporary shapes and proportions. I come from a very rich culture: there’s a lot of beadwork, a lot of craft. I want to merge these references with my global outlook. It’s a project that reflects a more authentic Africa, one that recognizes that we are forward-looking, open to the world.
What kinds of cuts or fabrics do you favor?
I do a lot of pleating and printing, so I use fabrics that are receptive to that. But I also love juxtapositions: merging fabrics that don’t necessarily go together, or in an unexpected way.
I think people tend to have set ideas about African design. But we are so much more experimental in our proportions and cuts than people realize, and I want my work to reflect that.
(Interview by Rebecca Appel, CNNLondon)