South African-born fashion designer, Thebe Magugu, was the first African to win the LVMH Prize for emerging talent in 2019. After that, his work was catapulted into the spotlight! In May 2020, his designs were featured on one of HBO’s biggest productions, Insecure. In Season 4 Episode 8, namesake star Issa Rae donned Magugu’s Petrol Green Jacket and skirt from the AW20 collection (shown at Paris Fashion Week). After that, celebrities like Michaela Coel, Zozibini Tunzi, Zendaya, Miley Cyrus, and Wendy Williams followed suit. All were wearing Thebe’s pieces for events like awards shows, press days, and even magazine features.
Thebe Magugu’s SS22 Collection “GENEALOGY” presentation was showcased at the Palais de Tokyo – a venue that showcases young talent. Thebe presented an installation of his pieces rather than holding a traditional fashion show. He also screened a film starring himself chairing a roundtable with his mother, Iris Magugu, and his aunt Esther.
“I love this idea of Memory as a reservoir for Optimism, which is something we need now more than ever”.— Thebe Magugu
The installation played on a two-part screen. On one side of the screen was Thebe Magugu playing the inter-generational host. They opened a box of old family photographs while relating memories and stories of the outfits. On the other side of the screen appeared images of how he had translated each photo through his 2022 collection.
The images show the influence of his family photographs on his designs. His mother’s checkerboard, mini two-piece suit transformed into a tailored red-black-and-white high waist jacket and a knife-pleated skirt with a family snapshot print. The uncle’s white shirt and black tie were elevated. The tie was exaggerated, extended, and looped over the shoulder of a white shirt paired with high waist pants. His aunt Esther wore a minidress. That simple outfit inspired a pair of shorts, one orange, one white, teamed with a black knitted bralette sweater. His late grandmother was celebrated with a blue dress which was the color of her nursing uniform.
Thebe Magugu’s collections are known in South Africa for his political and historical explorations. His talent is telling stories that honor people (especially family) through his designs. This collection was no different. Magugu shared a caption under the collection on his Instagram IGTV, about how proud he is. After all, the process was “quite cathartic.” He mentioned how important it was “to disengage with mounting pressures of having to create work that considers and reflects the times.” He created a personal body of work -even if niche- that looks inwards at the part of life that always gets him through, his family.