Local fashion designer Thebe Magugu is certainly one who is known to design and create from the heart. With his personal tribute dedicated to both his aunt and grandmother through his latest AW collection, Anthro 1, the designer shows us the importance of never forgetting your roots and where you come from.
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I wanted to share a story with you all. On the 27th of September 2009, my uncle quietly opened the door to our living room, where my family and I (strangely fidgety throughout that evening) were distracting ourselves with that night’s episode of Generations. When we turned to look at him, I remember my cousin fell to the tiles and I, in total automation, stood up and went to my room; closing off all the shrills now ringing throughout the house. I didn't even make it to my bed, collapsing into a heap on the floor, weeping for what felt like an incomprehensible loss, painful and almost impossible in its gamut. That was the day we lost my beloved grandmother, Matiego Magugu (picture above). I relay this story to illustrate that while my family and I detached from our immediate reality to mourn, a quiet and powerful group of hands had mobilized somewhere between the day of Matiego’s passing and the weeks after my family and I began stepping out of our collective melancholia [and one case of catatonia!]. In hindsight, all of us were never without a glass of boiled sugar water [the township’s remedy for heartbreak], the house and the tavern we ran from the garage were running and fully stocked, certificates were generated and filed, and the garden patch outside had never looked better, all thanks to these hands – patient to the point of sainthood and pro-active to the point of clairvoyance. I can tell you so many more stories about the people of Kimberley; about their self-sacrificial nature, their unconditional love, and spirit of Ubuntu (togetherness), even within an often hostile environment. It is these very people who inspired Ipopeng Ext., the presentation I had during Paris Fashion Week (an event my grandmother and I always watched on FTV and I had always promised her that she would be there one day and through the skirt last pictured above, she did!) Still, its bitter-sweet remembering Matiego. Her influence on me and her direct community was able to move mountains. Thinking of her today. My love to all those who know and have experienced what I’m talking about. xx
In paying homage to his aunt, Magugu shared a story about his time in Ipopeng, Kimberly where he spent a great deal of time at his aunt’s house. In remembering her, Magugu photographed his aunt’s corrugated roof of which he then printed onto a matching outfit set consisting of an asymmetrical pleated skirt and blouse.
Magugu also commemorated his grandmother, Matiego Magugu who passed away and had taught him a lot about standing firm in what you believe and always fighting for your dreams. Therefore to pay homage to his late grandmother of which he promised to take to Paris Fashion Week one day, Magugu designed a knife pleat skirt made from fabric with his grandmother’s face printed on it.
“Tribute to my grandmother, Matiego Magugu. Before she passed, we would always watch FTV together, and I promised her I’d take her to Paris for Fashion Week. In this way, she did.”
Although the young designer never got the chance to take his grandmother to Paris, Magugu has certainly done and accomplished many amazing things within his fashion career that are sure to make his grandmother proud. Not only was he the first African to win the LVMH Prize in 2019, but in the same year the International Fashion Showcase awarded him with the overall award for both curation as well as fashion content. Additionally, one of Magugu’s pieces was recently featured on hit American series, Insecure worn by Issa Rae.