Rich Mnisi takes up a center position in African Fashion. Born in Johannesburg he obtained a BA in Fashion Design and Business Management at LISOF. The desire to create a space that embodies an authentic expression of gender fluidity through an African lens, inspired him to start the Rich Mnisi brand.
Mnisi derives inspiration from childhood memories and storytelling with deep roots in the rich traditions of the Vatsonga tribe. The multi-award-winning designer’s success, comes from his outlook that the new normal is to stay in touch with the constant changes, and to change your approach by keeping your attention always on your customers, while elevating and taking their experience to the next level.
Today Rich Mnisi is a global brand in a country that’s committed to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Their track record as Rich Mnisi has illustrated how they find the balance between sustainability and growth in creative ways.
History tells us that Mombasa was successively controlled by many countries, being so well positioned on the Trade route. Today Mombasa boasts with an International airport and prominent Port, making it the second largest city in Kenya, Mombasa is a melting pot of diverse cultures and people. It is the center of the coastal tourism in Kenya.
The town of Mombasa is centered on Mombasa Island, but extends to the mainland via two creeks. You will know that you have arrived as soon as you see the historical Elephant tusks, that was erected by the British government in 1950,
It was a privilege to to work with Lauryne, an upcoming new face in Kenya and getting to know her.
1. Tell us about the girl Lauryne. Is Kenya your birth country and where did you go to school?
My name is Lauryne Alfredah Atieno and I am 21 years old. I was born in Mombasa and completed my education at Njoro Girls High School. I obtained a diploma in Tourism Management at the Kenya Coast National Polytechnic.
2. When did you have your first modelling experience?
During my high school years we had to walk the runway for Cultural week. That gave me an opportunity to overcome the shyness of being the centre of attention. After graduating from high school I did my first professional pageant and that was the beginning of my career as model.
3. How did you feel when you met the Kenyan model Akidor?
During a quiet time with no gigs on the horizon, I met Akidor. She took me under her wing and signed me up with her agency and we did some gigs together. I came in contact with popular brands and this could never have happened before she came into my life. She is my role model and I am grateful for all she has done for me.
4. Now that you have an agent, are you looking forward to travelling out of Kenya to other countries?
Watching the different fashion weeks in the world on tv. made me dream of being there one day. Now all stars had aligned for me and I have a contract from Coven Management and I am a signature away from reaching my dream.
5. What is your wishes for your future as Lauryne the model?
I would love to be recognised as an International model, working with all the major brands. Then it will be a privilege to give back to my community by using my knowledge and experience as a successful model to empower young people in Kenya to change their narrative of modelling as a career. Parents should support their children to follow their dreams.
The South African fashion industry is taking steps towards unity through multiple collaborations. Due to the fact that we are known for UBUNTU; more brands and designers should collaborate since there is more power and influence when we work together.
An individual’s personal style defines their personality and makes them more original and deserving of being dubbed fashion icons. Designers like Thebe Magugu and Neo Serati, and model influencers Yannick Konan and Pivot Aurel are just a few of our local icons that stayed consistent during the pandemic. They truly kept pushing to contribute, inspire, influence, reimagine, and incorporate their individual creative concepts into fashion, film and media! Moreover, THEBE MAGUGU’s innovative collections and designs combine African Spirituality with modern day fashion and abstract art ideas.
The designer, creative director, and stylist NEO SERATI is best known for designing gender and body inclusive clothing with his personal and local storytelling as inspiration. Neo describes how their personal life influenced their entire brand as NAO SERATI in the interview below.
Getting to know Neo Serati:
Your inclusivity as a designer is not only directed towards the gender fluid community but also to the traditional community. What message are you sending?
“I think that a fashion person is a fashion person. Gender doesn’t exist when you are talking about fashion because it’s not just clothing but also an attitude and a vibe and an art anyone should be wearing it limitlessly.”
What do you know and apply now that you have found your calling and have found a path or way to turn that into your reality?
“Lol fashion calling. I think the most important thing is just to actually do whatever it takes. If you have an idea, you have to make it happen as a designer. You have to design your reality however fantastical that reality is.”
Having graduated from the Stadio Fashion School formerly known as LISOF, how did your social and family life contribute to your career choice?
“I have a loving family that supported me even if they didn’t understand what I was doing, which allowed me to open many doors and try many things. With that exploration I found fashion and styling and I’m really excited to find other things and continue exploring other ways I can use as expression.”
A lot of your designs carry out the South African interpretation and narrative of gender fluidity, art and sexual identity in society. Does that stem from your personal story or outside influences?
“One of the reasons I chose to keep Naoserati a Namesake brand is so that it could grow and develop with me as a person and as a designer, so I find myself confident in communicating what I’m finding and thinking about in my own life through my brand. My current collection was designed while thinking about the weight of forgiving someone for being melancholic dark and eventually ending that, as well as how tough but freeing it is to go through that and still find a joy for life. I’m grateful for growth and want that to be reflected in Naoserati.”
Throughout your career, you have styled a wide range of commercials and films. How does the styling experience influence you as a designer?
“The great thing about styling is that I get to play and experience a lot of clothes and play with a lot of designs. I use that to educate my own brand as well as bringing more knowledge to our collective of young designers called church where we open up to new ideas and try to solve some of the problems we have.”
Your new collection is the first collection you’ve dropped in a while. Should we be prepared to be seeing more collections from Nao Serati?
“Yes, you can definitely expect more collections. I previously used to drop a look here and there as well as focusing on custom garments, but there is something so important about finishing an idea and wrapping that idea up as a collection… I’ll find new ways to do it, but I will definitely release more collections.”
What Inspires you as a designer and how do you deal with what artists describe as that “creative block”, if that’s something that influences you as a creative person?
“All the icons don’t believe in a block. Yes, maybe you don’t want to work sometimes, but honestly as a creative professional, you must work through a creative block, even if you just release white T-shirts for a spell. You must continue to work.”
Getting to know Yannick Konan :
Where are you from and how did your background mould you into the person that you are today?
“I am from Ivory Coast and have been fortunate to grow up in a big family surrounded by love. Which truly gave me confidence to do what I do today, and express myself through my craft.”
How would you describe Yannick behind the scenes on your off day?
I simply enjoy some quality time with the people I love.
What can we expect from the one and only Yannick venturing into new avenues of your self-expression and creativity?
There are quite exciting projects I am currently working, in modelling, acting and designing. I wish I could I tell you more, but I can’t wait to share them with you soon.
Getting to know Pivot Aurel:
An international career consisting of more than 5 agencies and numerous international campaigns is an amazing achievement for any young person. What is the best moment you still relive in your mind when you think back at your journey from the moment you decided to give modelling a shot?
“That’s a great question! I remember one of my best moments was, when I got to London so vividly, it was snowing and it was a dream come true, as I’ve always wanted to go to there growing up. I’ve always had pictures of London in my room, so when I got there, it was truly amazing.”
What are your top 3 favorite gigs and how was that experience?
“It’s hard to choose because all the jobs come with different experiences, but definitely all of my Calvin Klein campaigns. I have always thought the brand was sic and it was defenatly always been a favorite of mine. I also got to be a part of the Dolce & Gabbana spring 2023 fashion show, and that was a crazy experience. Lastly is a shoot I did in Milan. I remember flying and staying in Milan for a few days and what a beautiful city.
How do you manage being a full-time model and having time for your social life? Especially since this season is definitely going to be one of the busiest seasons. What coping advice do you recommend for new faces that are about to have their first busiest season?
That’s a great question. To new faces I’ll say, don’t compare yourself to others, because the people you look up to, also started from somewhere. The journey is easier when you know where you are going, and if you don’t know where that is, and you are just doing it for fun, that’s also cool, but stay focused. Most of my friends are also models, and so most of the jobs I get booked for, I get to work with them. Being able to work with friends become fun, but we still have to put in the work on set. It’s easier if it’s the right team. It feels like home.
Where did you grow up and how did your upbringing contribute to you choosing this creative industry?
I grew up in Burundi East Africa. I know most people don’t know the country, but it’s a beautiful country. a Very small one too. Growing up I actually just wanted to be a soccer or basketball player. There was no exposure to modelling in Burundi. So I didn’t know about it until I lived to Cape Town. It’s amazing that I found something that truly makes me happy.
A lot of local aspiring models have the same question, if they should relocate to Europe, or other big fashion capitals, to get signed and work internationally. What advice would you give to people to get inspired by your journey, especially those who are looking to be signed internationally, since most people don’t understand that agencies cannot just place you into a model house, and pay for your expenses?
We all learn at some point. I didn’t understand a lot about the industry myself, and it’s okay to not understand. Your relationship with your agency is important, if they believe in you that’s even better. They are supposed to be your family, and it shouldn’t just be about business. Do they check up on you? yes, because there’ll be times when you don’t get booked for jobs. If the relationship is not good, then it gets weird. So, focus on your relationship with your agency. If they believe in you and support you, they will help where they can in times of need. Being able to work overseas is a great experience, but know what you want out of it, and you’ll find a way.”
PHOTOGRAPHER : KITSO KGORI @HERO
ASSISTANT & RETOUCHER : JAY RYCO
FASHION DIRECTOR & ART DIRECTION : CHRISNA DE BRUYN
INTERVIEW BY LESEDI SELEKE
COPY EDITING : CHRISTINE BARNARD
FASHION BY THEBE MAGUGU @MERCHANTSONLONG & NEO SERATI
HAT BY SIMON & MARY
JEWELERY BY JOYFUL JEWELS
MODELS : YANNICK KONAN @BOYSOFBOSS
PIVOT AUREL @TWENTY
In honor of the ones who came before us, I embark on a new journey through this series of images, wrestling with what inheritance looks like in the 21st century.
Landlessness in post-apartheid South Africa prompted me to question what it is that our generation, born ‘free’ into an unequal society, will both inherit and leave behind. While we have no control over what we have been handed down, we are responsible for our own legacy; we are responsible for the story we leave behind.
This body of work is just the beginning, as we pay homage to all that has shaped our identity – relationships, culture, our elders and mostly to the stories that are yet to be told.
Language, arts, fashion and value systems weave their way into our consciousness through conversations, prayer and upbringing. As Steve Biko put it, “There is always an interplay between the history of a people i.e the past, and their faith in themselves and hopes for their future.”
Many of us have become disassociated from the essence of who we are, left with a self- image of less-than. In the poem, Coleman’s Bed, David Whyte tells us, “…begin to welcome back all you sent away, make yourself a door through which to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.”
So, in honor of the ones who came before us, this series of images is about taking back the ownership over our identity which I believe, could be our greatest inheritance of all.
Connections, colour and camera! What a powerful combination to set a platform to express friendship.
Friendship refreshes the soul and is one of the treasures that we all possess. Nature gave us the the right to choose friends that will be with us forever and is priceless. We experience fun, laughter and tears with our friends and it is time to show the world the beautiful, kind and clever people that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.
We invited them to have their portraits taken in their Sunday best, and to have fun, play and show the world their happy inner souls. They all showed up and we could see their different personalities in the way they expressed themselves in their portraits.
Some were serious and shy while others expressed themselves with laughter and in a fun way. We captured these precious moments to show how special they are.
We chose the fashion that will honor our friends and highlight their uniqueness.
For us this was a celebration of friendship.
We selected fashion designs that will enhance their spirit and reflect the colorful personalities to the world. We went for gorgeous colorful printed dresses, pants, coats and bespoke robes, many topped off with one of a kind couture headpiece.
Warm colors in general give a spectrum of feelings ranging from love, happiness to sadness. Blues reflects calmness and serenity. Orange showcases fun and playfulness. Greens represent peacefulness and health. Purple shows your creativeness and wisdom. And by using all the different prints and colors we had a beautiful mixture of expressions.
Our friends and their families allowed us a peep into their lives.
We created memories that we are thankful for and the quote that says it all is:
“Any one can be on your mind at any time, but only a handful can stay in your heart all the time.
They are called friends!” Have a look and meet them all!
*HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTIST: ROBYN NISSEN at firstname.lastname@example.org
*PHOTOGRAPHER FIRST ASSISTANT: SEAN FURLONGER @seanfurlonger.studio
*PHOTOGRAPHER SECOND ASSISTANT: THANDO MAHASELA @thando_loveitself
*PRODUCER: TSHOLOFELO MOGAE @tsholofelomogae
WRITER: CHRISTINE BARNARD
CHULAAP by ChuSuwannapah @chusuwannapah
Mantsho by Palesa Mokubung @merchantsonlong
NONDI B @fanjam_management www.fanjam.co.za
HAFIDAH MASOET @bossmodelsa www.bossmodels.co.za
SADEK EZZIDEEN @bossmodelsa www.bossmodels.co.za
YASMIN EZZIDEEN @aura.of.moths
KUTANA MASANGO @kutanakero
WILLIE, MARY, GIFT, VICTORIA AND ALI
SEAN FURLONGER @seanfurlonger.studio
THANDO MAHASELA @thando_loveitself
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Lynne and Roy for letting their beautiful home be the backdrop for our story. Check their vacation getaway rental at www.kloofzichtestate.co.za
The root of exploration is our need for connection.
How do we relate to ourselves? And how do we place ourselves in relation to the world?
An exploration of self usually circles around looking inward, as well as observing outward.
We need to allow for our thoughts, feelings, and desires to find their true voice.
This is impacted by both what came before us, and what remains in our surrounds.
Sikhokhele embodies the “us”, and provides a temporary identity for these questions to cling onto.
This is her journey of exploration, of connection. She moves organically into sleek shapes; allowing her to be one
with the natural backdrops. We see strong stances, and deep eye contact, but the atmosphere remains soft and still.
These moments of pause submerge us in reflection. Even the ego sits, mesmerised by the tranquillity.
Where do our origins lead us? What do we absorb from outer inputs?
Where do we lay in between the before, the now, and the oncoming?
And – how does our position transform?
Alexander presents us with both intimacy, and wholeness.
We are eyes to a lens looking in; onto emotion, light effect and stylistic detail. And then we are backed up to frame nature; and we are shown where Sikhokhele, who depicts the “us”, sits within the bigger picture. Fischer uses line and shape to form balance; spread arms and claps into negative space, and imbalance; resting branches and tilted angles.
We are also struck by her intentional use of light to paint a narrative; from beams across the face to shadow play.
Traditions, and cultural expectations, have been seen as more solid and untouchable aspects; in the name of respect, and the will to keep sacred practices, and ideals, breathing.
As strong individualism has continued to rise; there is more opportunity to find where we see modernism,
and traditionalism meeting. When this is done with understanding and consideration, we can reach a harmony between the two, and fresh outlooks can surface.
Tsepiso offers the stage to tradition through pattern and colour, while creating a modern ensemble through his styling;
by using interesting ways to wrap fabric, unusual pairings, and accessories.
We feel the appreciation of the bold roots, and see the complimentary value of Seema’s vision.
Traditions cannot lay stagnant, as this is where they shall stay.
The teachings must be continued; one cannot truly reframe something that one does not fully comprehend.
And we do not want to lose traditions through adaption.
But, if we could rejuvenate interest in learning about tradition, through expression that credits influence, as well as relates more naturally; this is a cycle that could both protect tradition, and better understand its relation to our present.
Inge’s use of line, colour and texture reiterate the feeling of a moment frozen in time.
The vibrancy of the makeup highlights, rather than overwhelms. She is evident in the images; her brush strokes loud, her colour contrasting. Yet, the aesthetic remains subtle within the compositions.
As conscious beings, we have no choice in our subjectivity.
We see things according to the way our paths have carved our viewfinders. But, we do have choice in where we choose to look. We may be the product of our environments; but we too have control over how and where our production line deploys our product. We have much more say in our impact than we sometimes believe.
To be more, we have to look to what we lack; and to where we can learn from those who have come before us.
The energy surrounding the twins is sunny and warm; you can physically feel the fire between them as they hype one another up, while still grounding each other – together they seem to carry a sense of home.
Sister, I stand strong.
Sister, I see long
ahead of me,
let us thrive
ahead like flames leaping
for more to experience,
with an inherent
desire to discover.
we still overflow,
I feel your guidance
in every decision;
you remain close.
I carry you with me,
a sensory accessory;
a sense of home.
having a front row seat
in this ongoing show
of you coming into being,
is what pushes me,
is what teaches me,
is what sets the tone
of endless possibility.
remember to resist
lumps and all,
as you are,
you are raw power.
GAVIN RAJAH www.gavinrajah.com
KLûK CGDT www.klukcgdt.com
KAT van DUINEN www.katvanduinen.com
AMANDA LAIRD CHERRY www.amandalairdcherry.com
MANTSHO @merchantsonlong www.mantsho.com
VIVIERS STUDIO @merchantsonlong www.viviersstudio.com
THE MAIDEN www.themaiden.co.za
OZBOB BY ROBIN OSRIN @robinosrin www.ozbob.co.za
IDA ELSJE JEWELLERY www.idaelsjejewellery.com
PHILIPPA GREEN JEWELLERY www.philippagreen.com
CRYSTAL BIRCH HATS www.therealcrystalbirch.com
The iconic Atlantis Dunes are the picturesque backdrop for this story; one which highlights some of our favourite faces this season. This ever-changing landscape shifts in motions with the Cape winds, and covers an area of roughly 32km2. Its white sand dunes reach heights of up to 50 metres. Less than an hour beyond Table Mountain’s shadow, these dunes stretch to fill your entire view; this is rare for Cape Town’s cove-filled coast.
Not many spaces could create this vast, yet dynamic, canvas for our models to be beheld. This majestic, and enchanting terrain called for a classic approach; denim and wardrobe icons never fail.
“I wanted to create a story with thrifted, pre-loved garments to show that clothing can have a second act – it’s important for us to celebrate circularity in fashion,” explains Ky Bxshxff.
THE FACES THAT ARE HERE TO SERVE:
MEET MEIKEL PEEHS | Kult South Africa
23-year-old Meikel was born in Germany, to Ghanaian parents with their roots still sturdy in African soil. His hobbies include soccer, dancing and traveling.
In his own words: “I love modeling because I get to meet new people, and explore new cities; which is one of the best parts of the job. I really enjoy posing, and working with creative people. I also love getting to see myself up in stores; it gives me confirmation that I’ve come a long way.”
A MINUTE WITH AWELANI MAMAFHA | Fanjam Management (1)
He is mighty fresh; having just started professional modeling less than a year ago. Soccer is the love of Awelani’s life, he is also an avid lover of volleyball, and yoga. When he isn’t being active outdoors, you’ll catch him reading, or binging on documentaries.
In his own words: “Modeling is a roller-coaster, but that’s what makes it exciting. On set, you get to connect with new people; learning about their journeys, and understanding what in their journey has led to us sharing this chance to create together.”