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4 of the Coolest Designers to Look Out for at the V&A’s Africa Fashion Exhibition

Vogue logo Vogue 6/27/2022 Laura Hawkins

Tongoro

Only six years old, the Senegalese brand, founded by Paris-born, Dakar-based Sarah Diouf, has been worn by Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Naomi Campbell. Diouf’s driving force is to raise awareness of West African craftsmanship. “Shapes are inspired by Senegalese fashion: regal, airy and bold,” she says. Graphic black-and-white prints allude to the photographic style of Malians Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta. “Tongoro women are proud of their culture.”

© Kristin Lww Moolman

Thebe Magugu

The first African designer to win the LVMH Prize, in 2019, Johannesburg- based Thebe Magugu’s “encyclopaedic” aesthetic articulates the “histories of the African continent at risk of being forgotten”. His Alchemy collection references ukuthwasa, the spiritual call experienced by his “young lawyer and stylist friends” to become traditional healers. Prints are inspired by divination tools, such as seashells and a pencil sharpener.

Sindiso Khumalo

The architect-trained, Cape Town-based designer’s North Star collection alludes to quilts sewn by members of the Underground Railroad in America. “Textiles acted as a coded symbol towards freedom,” reflects Khumalo, whose designs celebrate Zulu wedding rituals and Harriet Tubman. Traditional fabrics, such as French toile de jouy, are interwoven with stories of South African womanhood.

© Vogue

Lukhanyo Mdingi

“Marrying craft with modernity”, Cape Town-based Lukhanyo Mdingi works with artisanal communities in the Eastern Cape, Burkina Faso and Somalia to create his fabrication-focused designs. His label’s lustrous and tactile Perennial collection champions South African raw materials and the handcrafted technique of felting. “These are paradigms not celebrated enough,” Mdingi reflects. “African fashion doesn’t have to be printed or coloured.”

Africa Fashion is at the V&A Museum from 2 July.

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