The South African creative + model on self-expression + reclaiming space

Mziyanda L Block

Words: Kirsten Jacobs | Images: Supplied

This summer is all about making waves. Forget about shrinking into the background - the season ushers in a new attitude, characterised by statement-making fashion that gives an instant boost of confidence.

Our latest summer campaign encapsulates this loud and proud spirit. Filled with loud lashings of colour, powerful prints, and attention-grabbing accessories, your summer style is sure to turn heads.

Much like our fashion, one of the stars of our latest summer campaign, local creative Mziyanda - better known as Queen Lohaanda- is no stranger to making waves. With his characteristic split-tone hairstyle and binary fashion sense, Mziyanda certainly captures attention wherever he goes. But he’s more than his exterior. As a creative who identifies as queer, much of Mziyanda’s work centres around self-expression through fashion and photography. The multi-talented model, artist, and all-around creative has even been featured in the New York Times and Paper Magazine for boldy challenging gender norms.

In honour of our latest campaign, Mziyanda sits down with us to talk about how he is making waves through self-expression and reclaiming space as a creative.

M Block 1

Tell us a little about Mziyanda, who you are and what you do.

Mziyanda is a talented, highly-opinionated, funny, smart, and big-time party girl. I just recently graduated from university, I’ve been modelling for a couple of years, I DJ, I am a creative, and multidisciplinary artist. I find it hard summarising myself because there are so many aspects of myself, but I hope this helps a bit.

Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

I find that inspiration is everywhere - I am inspired by Black people, queer people, and the people I’ve met through the internet. My move to Joburg this year has really helped with reigniting my creativity again, the pandemic really left me feeling creatively uninspired for a long time.

Who are the creatives that inspire you the most?

I really find myself being inspired by the community of friends I have around me - their creativity allows me to dive deeper into my creativity and find more aspects of it. But to name a few; I would say FAKA, Thebe Magugu, River Moon, Nkuley Masemola, Ib Kamara and of course, Rihanna!

How do you use fashion as a form of self-expression?

Fashion has always been a tool that I’ve used in order to express myself. Throughout childhood into this stage of my life, I’ve always known that my emotions and feelings can be showcased through my clothing. Fashion has also been a good channel in which to find more of my identity and be able to express my gender fluidity.

M Block 2

Tell us the inspiration behind your persona ‘Queen Lohaanda’

I think of it less as a persona and more of an extension of who I am. When I was 15, I started a Youtube channel where I could just talk about any and everything and express myself. Celebrities and pop culture have been a big part of my life and Lindsay Lohan found herself being one of my favourites. I combined Lohan and Mziyanda and got the outcome of LOHAANDA which I used for my channel, so that’s the birth of the name - the ‘queen’ just made sense because c’mon… I’m a queen!

As a queer-identifying creator, how are you using your talents to reclaim space? And why is this important for you to do?

By being myself constantly and showcasing the different facets of myself within everything I do. I am using my talents to showcase that there is no limit to what we can do as queer people and that there can exist representation in many different spaces. Reclaiming space is important especially in a divided country like South Africa because often the spaces aren’t made for Black queer people, we often find that we’re on our own. Reclaiming spaces to create new spaces within them allows for there to be an inclusive space in which queer people can exist and thrive.

M Block 3

What does being a young creative in South Africa mean to you?

It means that I am afforded the opportunities to rewrite certain narratives, to be introduced into new spaces that I never would have imagined myself in. It's also inspiring being around other young creatives and seeing the amazing work that is produced by this generation.

What advice would you give to your fellow young creatives?

I feel as though I still need all the advice I can get, but I would say that it’s always important to be yourself and be authentic. That has really helped me.

What has been your biggest career highlight thus far?

That’s a hard one, but I think I would say my recent Superbalist billboard that I got to see in person a couple of days ago. It really made me proud of myself and the journey that’s happened to get me to where I am today. I try to never take it for granted.

M Block 4

What’s next for you? Where do you hope to take your career in future?

WORLD DOMINATION! I would like to be continuing with modelling overseas. I would like to continue using my many skills in all aspects of what I do. I hope to see myself on more magazine covers (that’s the next goal), and just carry on representing Black femme queer people whenever I can.

Here are all the looks Mziyanda will be rocking this summer:

seen this
the power of being seen
summer trend report