South African Designer, Thebe Magugu, has won the 2019 International Fashion Showcase (IFS). The seventh edition, which began on 11th of February 2019 at Somerset House in London, saw 16 designers from around the world present a series of compelling installations to represent their respective countries. Out of these, three designers hailed from the African continent; namely Magugu, Ami Doshi Shah (Kenya), and Cedric Mizero (Rwanda).
Magugu’s unique showcase, which was a contemporary depiction of the metamorphosis of South Africa’s constitution, earned him the title ‘leader of his generation’ from the judging panel. Furthermore, the panel made up of cultural and commercial fashion experts described his installation as not only having a ‘striking visual impact but real clarity’, but also as a ‘space which gives a sense of past, present and a bright future for Thebe and his country’.
Who is the IFS?
IFS is a partnership between the British Council, British Fashion Council, London College of Fashion, UAL and Somerset House. The biennial event looks to promote and nurture rising fashion talent in multiple ways. For instance, the exhibition runs during London Fashion Week (LFW) to provide a platform to display their work that the public can access for free.
Secondly, they provide professional support through business development advice. According to Fashion United UK, ‘each of the designers were supported through a bespoke online programme, developed by London College of Fashion, UAL, which covered all aspects of business development from branding to sales and production to sustainability.’ The exhibition has been running for two weeks and will come to a close on the 25th of February, 2019.
About the African Designers
THEBE MAGUGU – SOUTH AFRICA
Born in Kimberly (SA), this young womenswear designer draws his inspiration from the women who’ve played significant roles in his life. He went on to study Fashion & Apparel Design at Lisof Fashion School in Johannesburg. In 2015, he relocated to Joburg to open his eponymous brand and has been present on several runways; including SA Fashion Week. While his designs are still centred on women’s wants and needs, he also draws inspiration from ‘the multifaceted realities of contemporary South Africa.’ Both muses were referenced in the collection titled ‘African Studies’, which he showed at the IFS installation. The British Council describes his designs as ‘sleek and forward looking, with motifs from the continent’s storied past.’
A quick scan of his previous collections shows he has an eye for menswear as well. That’s because his work is unified by themes of juxtaposition. Design Indaba explains that, ‘He is interested in exploring the disparity between masculinity & femininity, tradition & experiment, overlarge & abridged and other differences in the design of his garments.’
If you haven’t had a chance to look at his resume, his Instagram account is a great place to start. From the colour composition, to the surreal photo shoot themes and narratives translated through the clothes, there’s an undeniable sense of intrigue and exhilaration! And can we talk about this top, which brought out a great guffaw from us? As we say in Kenya, if you know you know. (If you don’t, drop a PLS HLP in the comment section at the end of this article and we will bring you up to speed.)
CEDRIC MIZERO – RWANDA
Mizero received a curation award from the IFS judging panel for using his art to promote social change. His installation used everyday objects found in a Rwandan village to highlight issues faced by marginalised communities in the country. Through his nostalgic collection called ‘Dreaming My memory’ he narrated his childhood. The judges remarked that, “Cedric Mizero is without doubt a cultural change maker for his country. His work has the ability to collapse the local and the global into a message that is universal and deeply human.”
Born and raised in a small village called Gishoma in the Western Province of Rwanda, Mizero began experimenting with clothes and styles in his teenage years. He moved to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in 2012 where he began to interact with artists and fashion designers that supported him in his initial experimentation.
He has evolved into a designer that works with a mixture of disciplines to provide him a wider vocabulary to express his art. As mentioned on his website, the self-taught artist enjoys ‘observing and exchanging with other artists and artisans to learn from their techniques and hard work to stay inspired and motivated with his own development.’ Mizero is now a member of the Collective Rwanda fashion network with renowned brands such as House of Tayo and Haute Baso.
As part of his artistic commitment to highlight the often-invisible humans of society, He has a long-term project dubbed ‘Fashion for All’. Men and women from his rural village are placed at the centre of his work with a fashion vision of inclusion; one that rejects omissions based on social and economic status, physical appearance or age. Fashion collections presented under the Fashion for All umbrella include Beauty in the Heart (2018), as well as, Strong Women (2017) – an installation featuring photography, fashion, and mixed media highlighting feminine strength, energy, and responsibility.
AMI DOSHI SHAH – KENYA
Last but not least, is a trained Jeweller and Silversmith from Nairobi that is no stranger to our blog. In 2001, she graduated from Birmingham School of Art & Design in the UK with a BA (Hon) in Jewellery and Silversmithing. In the same year, she won the 2001 Goldsmiths’ Award for Best Design. Working with local materials, Shah seeks to amplify their raw and natural beauty to create powerful singular pieces. We encourage to read more about this phenomenal artist in one of our earlier blog posts.
For her IFS installation, Shah chose salt as the main medium of her collection. Interestingly, she was stationed at the West Wing of Somerset House which was once home to the British Empire’s Salt Office. Named ‘Salt of the Earth’, the collection explored the ‘complex historical, political and material properties of salt, which has had a profound impact on Kenya’s landscape and history.’ As further revealed, the pieces explored salts ability to destroy, as well as, create and rejuvenate. You can read more about the collection here
What did you think of the three installations? Share with us which presentation resonated the most with you and do take the time to go through their online portfolios!