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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist


Thebe Magugu wins prestigious award during UN General Assembly Week in New York

The designer follows in the footsteps of Salma Hayek and Iman Abdulmajid who have contributed to fashion and the greater society.


South African fashion designer Thebe Magugu was given the prestigious Franca Sozzani Award for his work in cultural preservation through fashion by Fashion4Development during the United Nations General Assembly Week in New York.

“I am humbled to have been given the award by my longest supporter and dear friend Sara Maino. I grew up the township and my only access to the global fashion industry was through FTV and satellite television,” said Magugu in his speech.

Named after the late editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani, the award is designed to honour women for their artistic work as well as social commitments. The award was established in 2017, following the passing of the former editor in 2016. Previous recipients of the award are Julianne Moore in 2017 and Salma Hayek in 2018.

Fashion 4 Development’s Annual First Ladies Luncheon is held during the United Nations General Assembly week in New York, to celebrate the unprecedented cooperation between diplomacy and fashion for the greater good of women and children worldwide.

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Breaking bearers

“I always felt like fashion and its machine always pushed the message that you must either be from New York, London, Milan or Paris to make it as a fashion designer, and when you are an impressionable 11 year old, you internalise this message,” said Magugu.

The 30-year-old Magugu has worked with the likes of Dior and AZ Factory. He was one of the A-listers at Pharrell Williams’ Louis Vuitton fashion show in Paris a few months ago and he recently launched his second instalment of his Heritage Series where he decided to explore childbearing rituals and beliefs, through the eyes of nine South African ethic groups. The project was done in an exclusive collaboration with British Vogue.

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“The Heritage Shirt and the accompanying Heritage Dress stand quite strongly on their own, and I love that each item can take you from the office to a night out. The Thebe Magugu man enjoys classic silhouettes that celebrate ideas of culture and history, and this Heritage Shirt intersects those two quite well,” said about the Heritage Series.

Magugu also designed Orlando Pirates’ kit for this season.

“When I started the brand in 2016, its mission was to act like an encyclopedia or a reference book of key ideas, people, cultures, that run the risk of being forgotten in the country and continent. I think that’s what makes fashion so incredibly intelligent and a communication tool, it can inspire, it can inform, it can educate, and it can transform.”

“I think Franca understood this all too well, the power of fashion to shift minds and recalibrate beauty standards. Thank you again to F4D, Evie Evangelou, Sara Maino – and all of you for your support and love,” he said.

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