The idea of family is central to designer Thebe Magugu’s work and to celebrate the relaunch of its international website the brand has released a special Heritage Dress capsule, which explores the idea of motherhood throughout South African cultures. The nine dresses each feature an illustration of a mother and a child by the artist Phathu Nembilwi and represent the traditions of nine official cultures in South Africa: Basotho, Zulu, Swazi, Vhavenda, Vatsonga, Bapedi, Tswana, Xhosa and Ndebele.
In the imagery for the collection, Magugu explores how women physically carrying a lot on their heads is symbolic of the many responsibilities women in the family have to take on. Objects are artfully balanced on the heads of South African women he admires and the designer shows his sense of humour by adding modern every-day items, including grapes, onions, a telephone, biscuit tin and an iron.
“Conceptually, the imagery is modelled around this idea of women in Africa as totem poles,” Magugu tells British Vogue about the powerful imagery created for the second instalment of his Heritage Dress project, which puts African women at the forefront. “I think of my own family – like many women on the continent – who have to carry and balance so many things, physically and metaphorically while looking incredibly regal and chic.”
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