Look Book: Rich Mnisi SS16 catalogue is gender bending

Rich Mnisi, the South African contemporary fashion label known for its fearless explorations of gender politics has released its Spring 16 catalogue. The eponymous label which was rebranded in 2015 from its debut name OATH STUDIOS, was founded by 24 year old fashion prodigy and LISOF graduate Rich Mnisi. He launched his label at the 2014 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg, winning the coveted Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year award for his debut collection.

Mnisi, fashion prodigy
Mnisi, fashion prodigy

The brand’s Spring 16 collection digs deeper into this idea that clothing is genderless, employing exaggerated volume, layering and as tools in this excavation of preconceived gender ideas. The collection is dominated by leather, denim and stripes, and features belted jackets, flared pants and exaggerated denim cape jackets.

Mnisi is a master at layering, a skill he demonstrates repeatedly in this lookbook. He is able to layer several kinds of fabric in the same piece and achieve harmony instead of chaos. The new collection also draws inspiration from urban South African city life and the street style of gay and transgender South African youth. His use of large metal plugs as detailing on several of the pieces harken to the practice of stretching, which is currently gaining popularity in South African alt-sexuality subcultures. It’s a trend we first saw Nigerian designer Ian Audifferen’s TZAR experiment with in 2014 as part of his ‘triumvirate of vagrants’ collection.

Tzar Ian's Triumvirate of Vagrants F/W 14 collection.
Tzar Ian’s Triumvirate of Vagrants F/W 14 collection.

 Some might argue about the wearability of the Mnisi’s spring catalogue but this isn’t obviously a concern the designer lets hinder his art, and if any of the acclaim he has received over the last three seasons is anything to go by (ranking by the Superbalist, interviews and spotlight with i-D magazine) Mnisi has the critical acclaim and the ethical appeal to help him coast through the artificial barriers the complexity of his work might create.

Rich Mnisi 29 Rich Mnisi 28 rich Mnisi 27 Rich Mnisi 26 Rich Mnisi 25 Rich Mnisi 24 Rich Mnisi 22

Tzar's F/W collection, A triumvirate of vagrants.
Tzar’s F/W collection, A triumvirate of vagrants.

Rich Mnisi 9 Rich Mnisi 11 Rich Mnisi 12 Rich Mnisi 13 Rich Mnisi 14 Rich Mnisi 15 Rich Mnisi 16 Rich Mnisi 17 Rich Mnisi 18 Rich Mnisi 19 Rich Mnisi 20


Photographer: Paul Samuel

Producer: Kelly Fun

MUA: Kelly-Jean Gilbert/Liezl Leach

Assistant: Siphesihle Zondo

Photographers Assistant: Siviwe James

Models: Luke van der Burg, William Nkuna, Gladys Brown, Tommie Fourie & Refiloe Seretlo

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