Despite Paris Fashion Week being known for hosting some of the biggest names in the fashion world (think Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton), it is also home to many emerging designers who reimagine fashion and present authentic collections. Both 2021 finalists of the sustainability-focused Woolmark prize, Kenneth Ize and Thebe Magugu have shown energised collections this week.
In the official opener to PFW and the first physical catwalk staged by the designer since making his debut on the eve of the pandemic in February 2020, Kenneth Ize looked to better days ahead in a collection that carried a profound and tangible sense of optimism.
Ize was the first designer to make a capsule collection for Karl Lagerfeld’s eponymous label since his passing, and is known for using traditional asoke fabrics which are handwoven in the factory he has built in Ilorin, Nigeria, which have ‘the hand-feel of couture’. This season, colours were bold and abundant: reds, blues and oranges featured heavily in the designer’s wrap skirts, knits and signature sloped tailoring.
Joining the designers who have renounced the dressing-down days of the pandemic, Ize’s collection was inspired by the desire to ‘dress up and get out’ again. This materialised in the flash touches: gold fringe accents, a major tiger-print moment and form-tailored suits that would be as at home in a club as they would at work.
The collection was positive, exuberant but also understated: the designer himself commenting that it was “the cleanest thing (he’s) ever done”. With accolades from Karl Lagerfeld and Naomi Campbell in his first year of designing, Ize is undoubtedly one to watch.
Showing at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, a space now synonymous with emerging design talent, Thebe Magugu also delivered an exciting and optimistic collection this week. Instead of a runway show, he had an installation of his clothes and was screening a film of himself exploring family history and conversation with his mother and aunt.
The film was a stark reminder of Magugu’s talent in storytelling through designs: his grandmother’s dedication to her profession as a nurse was celebrated with a pair of blue dresses echoing the color of her uniform. Other familial reflections included his aunt’s minidress, which inspired a pair of shorts-suits in orange and white, both coupled with a black bralette sweater beneath in an interesting harnessing of texture.
Magugu, living in South Africa, is a fashion ambassador for the country. However his designs resonate and inspire internationally- and his Paris Fashion Week showcase exemplified this.