Thebe Magugu launches menswear at Pitti Uomo
On Thursday, South African designer Thebe Magugu, LVMH Prize winner in 2019, unveiled his first menswear collection at the Florentine show he is a special guest of this season, his half-ranger, half-cow-boy style at once elegant and socially engaged.
With the collection, and taking advantage of the visibility Pitti Uomo offers, Magugu has chosen to speak out against the corruption that is rife in Africa, and in the world as a whole, poisoning the economy and social life at all levels. Magugu staged an unusual performance, in which 12 of his models played the part of the corrupt, and were interrogated one by one under the stern eye of three ranger-like characters in tartan suits, tall hats and trench coats.
As the audience exited, they were given a magazine produced by Magugu with 20 South African journalists who have been vocal in denouncing corruption. Magugu drew his inspiration for the collection from the book ‘The Whistleblowers’ by Mandy Wiener, and from illustrator Jonathan Zapiro’s drawings, whose motifs were printed on cotton blouses and trousers. One of the stand-out items was the trench coat with bloodied hand-prints dripping down on the pockets.
The collection features altogether 15 highly charged total looks in gaucho/cow-boy style, with boots made in Italy and wide-brimmed hats made in wool felt by South African milliner Crystal Birch. “[The collection] is inspired chiefly by the world of westerns, pitting the good guys against the bad. Compared to ready-to-wear, menswear is really something else in terms of proportions and construction. Until now, I’ve only ever designed the occasional look, but more and more men have been buying my women’s clothes, so I started thinking about a fully fledged line,” Magugu told FashionNetwork.com backstage.
The wardrobe features clothes made mostly in wool, printed cotton and knitwear. Some tunic-tops are knitted in the same hues and patterns as the trousers. A red and grey checked stole matching the suit envelops one model’s upper body, like a gaucho’s poncho. A pair of orange cotton trousers match a shirt with pockets whose flaps drop down on the thighs, like cow-boys’ chaps. The same detail is featured over a pair of shorts.
Success doesn’t seem to have blunted 27-year-old Magugu's edge. He showed once more a complete mastery of the craft, from designing and creating clothes – that are made entirely in South Africa - to developing fabrics, with an ability to showcase his country's creative talents.
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