One of the unexpected announcements that preceded the South Africa Menswear Week Spring 17 showcase was that South Africa’s menswear savant Rich Mnisi was collaborating with emerging women’s wear designer Thebe Magugu on his new Spring collection. With how unpredictable Mnisi is as a designer and Magugu only just coming into his own, this was collaboration that no one could accurately predict. Granted Mnisi has always delved heavily into androgynous clothing and Magugu’s last collection had many of its accents eras which Mnisi favored. But other than that, we were totally in the dark as to how this union would turn out.
We shouldn’t have worried.
What the Mnisi x Magugu collaboration offers us, is the rare opportunity of seeing a near perfect collection, surprising considering there were no two looks in the 20 look collection that were similar, let alone identical. Much of the collection this season takes the same route to modifying denim as Vetements, cutting and reworking classic denim styles into something barely recognizable but wholly original. It makes sense that the label would go this route, it has always been willing to where other labels dare tread. The label also embraces volume in ways it hasn’t before, approaching it with the necessary reverence for form and wearability. A literal one-sided orange denim jacket hangs languidly off Kwen Akomaye, held in place only by strategically tied straps. A denim dress with a ruched top hemline sits pretty on a female models demure body, cut so sultrily, she literally slinks. A pair of high waisted denim pants marries the sixties with cutting edge technology and blousy print shirt showing daring cleavage completes the look.
With gifted women’s wear designer Thebe Magugu offering his excellent insights into designing for the female body, Mnisi finally, truly tries his hand a women’s wear. His masculinity tempered with Magugu’s svelte silhouettes is nothing short of magic. A white blouson coat with exaggerated lapels and a contrast stripe sits pretty on a model, another is swaddled in a quilted lilac parka with padded sleeves, its hood garlanded with fabric flowers instead of fur.
But the collection’s centre piece (if you may) is a purple ensemble; a purple ombre cropped quilted menswear jacket, paired with a pair of reflective denim cargoes. The decadence of this look belies the technique and the construction, giving it an ease that only comes from excellent work.
This is the kind of vibe that Mnisi and Magugu offer, a true match made in fashion heaven.
Simon Deiner/SDR Photo