Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture: Supplied
Lukhanyo Mdingi. Picture: Supplied

SA designer Lukhanyo Mdingi awarded the special Karl Lagerfeld Prize

By Thobile Mazibuko Time of article published Sep 7, 2021

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South African designers are bagging international wins, and we’re loving it.

It was in March this year when Cape Town-based designer Lukhanyo Mdingi, was announced as one of the top 20 finalists for the coveted LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) Prize of 2021.

This year’s jury, includes top designers like Virgil Abloh, Stella McCartney, Kim Jones and Marc Jacobs.

Fast-forward to September, where he has been named as the joint winner of the special Karl Lagerfeld Prize.

It is no surprise that he is one of the winners of the eighth edition of the LVMH Prize. His work is, after all, of international standards.

The designer, known for creating meticulously made pieces and collaborating with artisans, shares the prize with KidSuper and China’s Rui Zhou.

Lukhanyo Mdingi in his COUTTS A/W21-22 collection. Picture: Luke Houba

It is the first time that LVMH has had three winners for the Karl Lagerfeld Prize.

“We’re thrilled to announce that, for the first time, ever we have three winners of this year’s 2021 Karl Lagerfeld Prize, and they are the very talented designers @kidsuper, @lukhanyomdingi, and @ruiofficial.me,” they said on Instagram.

Mdingi won the hearts of the judges by showcasing sustainable designs. In creating the winning collection, he used labour-intensive techniques to produce garments that bring to life the soulful energy that he injects into his work.⁠

Mdingi, and the two other designers, walk away with €150 000 (it will be split equally) and a year of mentorship.

The LVMH Prize was won by London-based designer, Nensi Dojaka.

Pullover from Lukhanyo Mdingi COUTTS A/W21-22 collection. Picture: Instagram/@lukhanyomdingi.

During the time of announcing the top 20 finalists, Delphine Arnault, executive vice-president of Louis Vuitton and founder of the LVMH Prize, said they received more than 1 900 applications.

Arnault was also impressed by the mature work produced by the young designers.

“Designers are asked to be much more than designers, and the candidates have adapted to this new reality.

“They are very aware of their image, they build their businesses and, above all, they think about creation and its environmental issues.

“All the semi-finalists show a sincere and deep commitment, whether it be social, ethical, artisanal, environmental or local.

“They are anchored in today’s world,” she said at the time.

It is not the first time a South African designer bags the LVMH Prize. In 2019, Kimberly’s Thebe Magugu won the LVMH Prize, making him the first African designer to win the title.

Being recognised by the LVMH Prize has proven to work in favour of the designers.

For example, since winning the title, Magugu’s career has been flourishing. Besides dressing international celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Zozibini Tunzi, Tina Kunakey, and Naomi Campbell, he has also bagged other prominent gigs, like having his designs displayed at the Costume Institute, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and was selected as one of the Woolmark Prize top six finalists.

South Africa’s Sindiso Khumalo was a co-winner of last year’s competition. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 finalists did not present their collections to the expert panel of judges and therefore the eight finalists shared the prize money.

On winning, Mdingi took to Instagram to write a message of gratitude and also one of tribute to his friend, the late designer, Nicholas Coutts.

“We met the moment... It’s an incredible honour to represent Nicholas’s legacy with respect and sincerity.

“I’ll forever be grateful to the support of Lindsay, Emma and Mick Coutts - your son and brothers presence will never wane,” his message began.

He then proceeded to thank his creator and those who were early supporters of his work.

“Siyakudumisa Thixo siya kuvuma ukuba unguYehova Umhlaba wonke ubedesha wena uYise ongunaphakade Zonke ingelosi zimemeza kuwe. Kwanezulu nawo onke amandla akulo.

“This is for all the homies that have been there since day one - you know who you are. I got you. Always.”

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