By Ugonnaora Owoh
South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu has released his AW21 collection, Alchemy, and it is beautiful.
For his latest collection, the 2019 LVMP prize winner introduced a redefinition of his previous work, Counter Intelligent, featuring embroidered chiffon dresses, pink blazers and cinched waist belts.
For the new collection, Magugu collaborated with photographer Kristin-Lee Moolman to create a 1970s-style B movie called Banyoloyi A Bosigo. The short film, which is written, directed and photographed by Moolman, shows the power play between two rival girl gangs named the “ultimate midnite angels” who speak Zulu and Setswana.
The short film begins at the river with an initiation rite, then the sending out of the initiated woman to become a spy. There’s also a love affair between two women of rival tribes that warrants a capture. Each scene of the movie introduces the fits to the collection as well as exhibiting the fluidity of the outfits.
Moolman had one motive with Banyoloyi A Bosigo: the empowerment of women. “I want female characters to have their own agency and can be heroes or anti-heros without having to conform to the cinematic trope of women having to go experience major trauma to be allowed to be the same level of ‘badass’ as their male character counterparts,” she says.
Via his Instagram, Magugu describes the inspiration behind the collection saying, “Alchemy AW21 is an exploration of the changing face of African spirituality, and how more open people especially young people—are becoming about their experiences and journey into that world.”
Alchemy is Magugu’s seventh collection. He became a promising talent in Africa’s fashion industry after he won the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers in 2019. Last year, he was a finalist of the Woolmark prize along with five other designers. As part of his career, he has also walked several fashion shows, home and abroad. – okayafrica