Designer Thebe Magugu wins the LVMH Prize – and our hearts
Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Photography: Supplied
It has been an extraordinary year for 26-year-old Thebe Magugu and his eponymous womenswear brand. We cheered so hard when he was named a finalist for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy LVMH Prize. Now he’s bagged the ultimate win – beating over 1 700 applicants by taking the ultimate prize. Launched in 2013 and arguably the most esteemed award in fashion for up-and-coming designers, the prize has been won by some of the brightest stars in fashion including Grace Wales Bonner and both Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida of Marques'Almeida.
Magugu will receive a whopping €300 000 – about R4.9 million – and a one-year mentorship programme that will cover all the areas of expertise that are critical to a young fashion brand. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, brand ambassador and a face of Louis Vuitton, presented Magugu with the honour on September 4 at the Louis Vuitton Foundation. The decision rested in the hands of esteemed international industry figures that included Kris Van Assche, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Bernard Arnault, Nicolas Ghesquière, Delphine Arnault, Kris Van Assche, Marc Jacobs, Clare Waight Keller and Jonathan Anderson.
What makes Magugu’s win incredibly special is that it marks the first time a designer from Africa has received the award. Originally from Kimberley, Magugu is known for his unique and holistic approach to dressing the modern woman and for his use of local suppliers. Magugu competed against eight other brands, including African brand Kenneth Ize from Nigerian designer Kenneth Izedonmwen, as well as Kunihiko Morinaga of Anrealage, Bethany Williams, Emily Adams Bode of Bode, Hed Mayner, Spencer Phipps of Phipps and Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt of Stefan Cooke.
When you look at Magugu’s feminine and artful Spring/Summer 2020 collection, it’s easy to see why he impressed the panel. He studied fashion design at the LISOF School of Fashion in Johannesburg and is showing zero signs of slowing down, from launching his womenswear label in 2016 to winning the International Fashion Showcase at London Fashion Week earlier this year – now this. We’re super proud of you, Thebe.