Tuesday 29th September

| BY Paul Toner

Thebe Magugu: Ready-to-Wear SS21

For spring/summer 2021, Thebe Magugu got tactical. After setting up his own online shopping destination to combat store closings and order cancellations of his AW20 collection due to Covid-19, the designer began thinking more into the role clothes play in our everyday. From reading Jonathan Ancer’s Betrayal: The Secret Lives of Apartheid Spies, the designer was introduced to the undercover agents that once resided in his home nation. Magugu then started studying how clothes are used to both conceal and reveal; to stand out from the crowd or seemingly blend within the shadows.

He unveiled the collection through a short fashion film titled Counter Intelligence, which was narrated by ex-spies of South Africa’s apartheid government. In favour of stuck-on moustaches, jet black lycra or dodgy looking trench coats, the former LVMH Prize winner told a story of elegance and refinement. His women wore ribbed knits in lemon yellow and ivory, worn with gloves accented with marabou feathers. The designer’s Sisterhood emblem stamped structural berates and polo dresses worn with harnesses.

The same logo appears on a series of menswear looks, which for the first time, take the forefront. A mere three days ago, Magugu dropped his first men’s capsule collection – adding to an already cracking selection of looks with slender teal suits, boyish shorts and Sherrif hats, as seen here in a lookbook by ongoing collaborators Kristin Lee Moolman and Ib Kamara. “I’ve always been attracted to their work, not only when they work together, but as individuals as well,” explained the designer. “There’s this sense of realistic abstraction, because there’s something so familiar about it especially with them being African, there’s something very other-worldly about their image-making.”

If this is the spy uniform of tomorrow, Thebe Magugu should be first in line to dress not only the next Bond girl, but Mr 007 himself.

Photography by Kristin Lee Moolman.