During our recent interview with Africa’s leading contemporary fashion designer Thebe Magugu, he hinted that he’s been working on a special project with Vogue magazine, which will soon be unveiled.
And when the invite came this week, we all anticipated a big reveal and boy oh boy, we were all blown away.
Members of the media, fashion industry colleagues and Magugu’s family and friends gathered at the Glow Hire Studio, in Riviera, Johannesburg, on Thursday night for an exclusive screening of Vogue Magazine, September issue.
Guests got a glimpse of the iconic cover, featuring tennis superstar Serena Williams in a stunning blue Balenciaga gown with her daughter Olympia by her side.
In his welcome speech, Magugu told guests how he received a call from Vogue to take part in a special project where two designers would “interpret each other’s work”.
In the project, an emerging designer gets to collaborate with an established designer from anywhere in the world. Both designers get to transform each other’s works.
We all marvelled as we watched the semi-documentary series, detailing Magugu and Piccioli’s journey in swapping designers and recreating them into two showstoppers that will take your breath away.
Vogue magazine shared the visuals on its official social media page with the caption:
“When designer @thebemagugu first opened the mystery crate from Rome containing @pppiccioli's @maisonvalentino haute couture garment, he recognized it at once as the dress that Tracee Ellis Ross wore to grace the 2018 Emmy Awards.
“This was the garment chosen by Piccioli that Magugu would be tasked with reimagining as the second chapter of Vogue’s dress-swap initiative.
Meanwhile, in Rome, Piccioli and his team unpacked Magugu’s almond-green pantsuit.
“I saw the colour and the pattern of the fabric but the thing that impacted me the most was this letter that Thebe sent me.
“He said something that was very moving: that he is from the Sotho [ethnic group] and that ‘blankets are a very big part of our culture.’ ”
Watch the video below.
Magugu also shared some of the visuals on his social media page.
He wrote: “For the past few weeks, I have had the incredible honour of working on a Vogue Designer Swap with Pierpaolo Piccioli.
“He sent to our studios in Johannesburg a look from his AW18 Haute Couture collection; an arresting off-shoulder silk-taffeta plisse-waist dress worn by @traceeellisross.
He continued: “In my research, I understood that Pierpaolo, for that collection, was looking at 18th Century Women. This made me ask who were 18th Century Women in Africa?
“I thought of the strength and regality of Queen Nandi Bhebhe (c. 1760 – October 10, 1827) - mother of the King of the Zulus.”
Magugu explained how he recreated Piccioli’s dress into a trench coat.
“It broke my heart to cut up such a magnificent dress, that it rained that day, and hoped I would not get struck by lightning.
“We completely unpicked the dress, recut using patterns I had developed, and moved it from a whimsical dress to an elevated trench coat with voluminous sleeves.
“All the tulle in the garment we hand-dyed into the classic PP Pink and created wide-leg pants and a frill-neck blouse.
“The hat you see is the supporting corset from the original dress, inverted and treated like a crown. I created a special logo merging our sisterhood emblem and Valentino’s classic crest, screen-printing it on the crown,” he added.
The award-winning designer also thanked Piccioli for transforming his “Basotho-inspired suit into a regal cashmere hand-stitched cape”.
With the pop-up shop set up at the Glow Hire studios, we all had the opportunity to view Magugu’s newly transformed masterpiece alongside.