Another day, another victory for South African fashion. This time, we're shining the spotlight on a designer who's garments have not only appeared in Vogue and several more local magazine covers, but have also been worn by the likes of Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé and even the virtual Instagram influencer Noonoouri.
But this is not to say that we only applaud South African creatives when international eyes twinkle in awe of their talent, but rather that we can't help but burst at the (luxury) seams with excitement and pride when local designers prove themselves just as worthy of highly sought-after accolades as their international counterparts.
So today it's worth noting that top South African designer Rich Mnisi has secured another spot in fashion history by becoming the first-ever recipient of the Essence Emerging Designer of the Year Award. He was awarded this honour at the inaugural Best in Black Fashion Awards held in New York on Wednesday evening.
"This is for my country. This is for my continent and I'm happy that people are going to see the wealth of talent that exists there. This really means a lot to me," Rich reportedly said.
In an Instagram post sharing his win, the gifted designer expressed in the caption how "to win the Emerging Designer of the Year [at the] Best in Black Fashion awards #BIBFA, where industry pioneers like Rihanna, Billy Porter, Pat Cleveland, Sarah Diouf of Tongoro Studio, Zerina Akers, Zendaya etc are recognised for the amazing work that they’ve done is truly humbling."
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To win the Emerging Designer of the Year @essence Best in Black Fashion awards #BIBFA, where industry pioneers like @badgalriri, @theebillyporter, @patcleveland, @tongorostudio, @zerinaakers, @zendaya etc are recognized for the amazing work that they’ve done is truly humbling. Thank you to @moanaluu for recognising me and following my work from inception. Thank you to my partners @bradleycockrell @woolworths_sa and @boschendalwines for being our co-pilots to open NYFW with Essence today. Even with tears running down my face from all the pain we face in South Africa, I am hopeful that we will come together as a people and create the world we want to live in. I promise to put the same energy I put into my design innovations, into creating sustainable innovations to protect our people. We need each other, it’s all we have. Also a big congratulations to my best friend @thebemagugu for winning the @lvmhprize, you have done it for us all.
The inception of this awards ceremony is inspired by the need for black creatives in the fashion industry to be celebrated in their own spaces. According to Fashionista, this "invitation-only event kicked off a two-day experience ahead of New York Fashion Week by awarding 2019's most talented Black stylists, fashion and accessories designers, photographers and more from across the globe."
Other first-of-their-kind award winners included Aminah Abdul Jillil who won the Accessory Designer of the Year award; Itaysha Jordan for Photographer of the Year; Fe Noel for Designer of the Year; and Zerina Akers - whose work as Bey's stylist is a portfolio of hers you might be familiar with - was given the Stylist of the Year award.
Special honorees included Pat Cleveland for the Icon award, Billy Porter of Pose fame, for the Trailblazer award and face of Lancôme Zendaya for the Influencer award.
This is no small feat for a designer like Rich Mnisi, whose luxury items are probably the most coveted pieces of fashion in the country right now.
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