How the Foxy Five use fashion to fight the power
Words: Modupe Oloruntoba | Photographs: Glen Montgomery | Stylist: Mandy Nash + Yonela Makoba
Comprising of a white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy-smashing group of 5 young womxn from Cape Town, The Foxy 5 is a web series on intersectional feminism that’s here to lift you up if ‘the labyrinth of structural oppression has you down’. Director Jabu Newman leads an incredible troupe: Unity Bond played by Duduza Mchunu, Prolly Plebs played by Qiniso van Damme, Blaq Beauty played by Tatenda Wekwatenzi, Femme Fatale played by Qondiswa James and Womxn We played by Nala Xaba. We wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve already come across them, by watching their popular featurettes, by the non-stop press coverage they’ve received since their debut last July, or by being in the crowd during their presentation at 2017’s Design Indaba conference.
While the content of their performance is vitally important, locally relevant, timely, and well-presented (despite only one of the five having any previous screen acting experience), the thing no one’s really talking about is the show’s distinct style.
The revamped 70s look and feel of the series is not a purely aesthetic choice: the decade was an inspiration because of its palette and textures, but also because of its ideals, specifically those that pushed resistance against systematic oppression forward. The look was written into the story from the beginning by director Newman, but has been executed by a short string of emerging stylists, the latest — and greatest, I’m told — being Yonela Makoba, who accompanied the cast on their Superbalist shoot to complement our team’s work with their team’s perspective.
“Thank God we have Yonela now, because she cav's the vision – she sees it, she gets it,” Qiniso/Prolly tells me. In between shots on set, we asked the Foxy Five to tell us a little about connecting with their characters and using style as a storytelling device.
“Every time I think of the Foxy 5, I think of my mother — a Grace Jones haircut, tight bell bottoms, no bra, crochet crop top with flowing fluted sleeves, big boots with velvet, with the afro after perming her hair for so long... she had her choice. She had her freedom. She said ‘I’m going to be what I want to be, whatever that is — I’m going to choose.’ For me that’s feminism embodied in style.” — Qiniso van Damme
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“The latest styles in the show I align with more, they make more sense for me. For the most part, how Femme dresses is how I dress. I like high-waist things, I like my chest, I don’t wear bras… a kind of liberated sexuality became seminal and important to the character. The year that we’ve been shooting, I probably wore heels the whole year. I don’t accessorise; I have my piercings and that’s something we had to paste onto Femme. So in some ways her style is informed by me. But I don’t ever wear makeup, and that was something I found hard to understand and had to get comfortable with, that it works for Femme.” — Qondiswa James
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Unity Bond in The Bomber
“My character is kind of seen as a leader. Each of the characters is about one thing in particular. Femme Fatale is about fairness and gender, Prolly is about peace and equality, Blaq is about black empowerment… What Unity Bond does is that she brings it all together, tries to make it intersectional to show how it all exists in one world. She’s strong. Style wise we’re pretty different. It’s just in her personality — she’s bold, she’s not afraid to take risks… my style’s a little bit more casual, sportside, masculine, with a bit of a rock edge to it. The style really communicates what each character is about.” — Duduza MchunuA uniform piece for millennials everywhere, the bomber gets easier to wear with every update. Up the ante by selecting a style with colour and shine, and layer lightly.
“The characters were based on us so there’s a bit of similarity, but since the script was written, I’ve changed, my style’s changed. I’m more conservative in my dressing for reasons I still need to explore, so a lot of the time, Blaq Beauty influences Tatenda’s dressing. If I’m going somewhere, sometimes I like to put on Blaq Beauty’s style. It’s brave, it’s confident, it’s outgoing, it’s everything that I often am not as a womxn, so I like to put it on as a mask.” — Tatenda Wekwatenzi
A biker jacket will put your winter look a step ahead of most if you go with traditional textures in non-traditional colours. Pair with long luxe sweaters in fabrics like velvet and wool, and finish the edgy look with thigh-high boots.
“I would wear everything [Womxn We] wears. I think she dresses very well. She’s kind of portrayed as the prude. The overall aesthetic of the show is quite outrageous, so in the context of the show, she’s the calm one. The styling of the show has broadened to just retro from being so 70s-specific. I think one of the reasons Jabu wanted to use that device, referencing the 70s so heavily, is to show how timeless the ideas really are.” — Nala XabaPolish even the most casual winter uniform with a wrap-around coat. The fewer bells and whistles the better; minimal is the name of the game.