In an unprecedented triumph for South African fashion design, womenswear designer Thebe Magugu was announced the overall winner of this year’s LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers at an event at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Alicia Vikander, a face of Louis Vuitton, presented Magugu with the honour.
Thebe proved victorious over more than 1700 applicants from 100 countries across all continents, where Nigerian-based gender-neutral designer Kenneth Izedonmwen of Kenneth Ize was the only other African designer to make the list of only eight finalists this year.
Thebe Magugu's fashion catalogue of work successfully winnowed his fellow competitors, managing to garner the favour of this year's heavyweight panel of judges including the likes of Jonathan Anderson, Kris Van Assche, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Clare Waight Keller, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, as well as Delphine Arnault, Jean-Paul Claverie, and Sidney Toledano.
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As the Prize's Instagram bio reads, it was "established to promote young fashion designers & celebrate the future of fashion," and now directly below this description, sits a name South Africa is proud to call their own.
The award comes with €300,000 (approximately R4.8 million) and a year’s worth of mentoring from the group.
The designer who hails from the place of diamonds, Kimberley, therefore continues to prove that he is indeed a true product of this city. Revealing in a 2018 interview with True Love where it all began, the 2019 LVMH Prize winner shared the following;
"I interned for Woolworths about three years ago. The brand's fashion designer, David West, asked me to move to Cape Town to intern there after seeing my graduation collection. I learnt so much from him. A few years later, Woolworths contacted me in my capacity as a solo designer, asking me to collaborate with them in their Style by SA initiative, aimed at promoting the creations of local designers in their stores and online."
Lucilla Booyzen, director of South African Fashion Week (SAFW), expressed with much elation how this "is an incredible break-through for Thebe to receive recognition at this level. It is the fashion equivalent of winning a gold medal at the Olympics. We are utterly delighted and proud of his success."
Thebe Magugu showed his first collection at SAFW - the country’s premier platform for designers - in 2017 to rave reviews and has since become one of the most sought-after designer represented internationally by SAFW-affiliated agency, The Fashion Agent.
Becoming the sixth recipient of the LVMH Prize is therefore no small feat for Thebe Magugu especially as the first-ever African designer to achieve this win. The world of fashion has just become Thebe's and we're happy to just be living in it.
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