South African Luxury Designer, Thebe Magugu Partners With AZ Factory

By Wanique Block

In light of Alber Elbaz’s vision to create a brand that challenges the way fashion operates and evolves, innovative fashion startup AZ Factory has unveiled a new strategy that aids in nurturing creativity and playful storytelling through collaboration.

With this new strategy, AZ Factory has announced that South African luxury designer Thebe Magugu will be the first “Amigo” to create and produce a product story for the fashion startup.

Launched one year before Alber Elbaz’s death, AZ Factory launched to re-introduce Alber Elbaz’s new approach to innovation and design, especially after he abruptly left Lanvin as the Creative Director.

Before his sudden departure from the Parisian fashion house, Alber Elbaz was known as the designer who effortlessly resuscitated and breathed new life into the couture house. Founded in 1889, Lanvin is the third oldest French fashion house still in operation today. During his tenure as Creative Director at Lanvin, Alber Elbaz transformed the luxury Maison into one of the world’s most sought-after luxury fashion labels. 

The designer extraordinaire introduced a unique contemporary take on design technique and hyper-feminine details such as embellishments, ruffles, vibrant prints and jewel tones. Alber’s work at Lanvin was anchored in hyper-feminism and etherealism, and his work was often centred around the celebration and empowerment of women.

Built on the same foundation and principles of Alber Elbaz, AZ Factory focuses on creating “smart fashion that cares” by emphasising education, transparency and inclusivity.

As a “collective laboratory and factory” embedded in innovation, creativity and storytelling, it is no surprise that luxury designer; Thebe Magugu was chosen to be the first “Amigo” and collaborator for AZ Factory.

Apart from being incredibly talented, Thebe Magugu is a South African luxury fashion designer and 2019 LVMH Prize winner. As a brand with a ready to wear collection, Thebe Magugu draws inspiration from “Africa’s storied past, complex present and exciting imagined futures”.

Every garment embraces the everyday experiences of men and women and uniquely captures their stories. Although storytelling plays a pivotal role in Thebe’s delivery and presentations, he is meticulous about addressing social and political issues. Thebe uses fashion as a political tool. His ability to thoughtfully comment on matters of Gender-based violence, misogyny, corruption in South Africa and whistleblowers, westernisation and apartheid, not to mention issues of social unrest in South Africa in the midst of the global pandemic, has allowed him to garner critical acclaim whilst pushing these conversations forward.

Like the iconic designer Alber Elbaz, Thebe Magugu is at the forefront of revolutionising the fashion industry.

After the untimely death of Alber Elbaz, AZ Factory hosted a tribute catwalk show titled Love Brings Love that was inspired by the designer’s legacy and unique take on the iconic female silhouette.

Forty-five prominent designers, including Thebe Magugu, showcased their collections in honour of Elbaz’s life and legacy within the fashion industry.

To honour the iconic designer, Thebe Magugu created a collection made of recycled satin in a pearly white colour.

“I wanted to reference Alber’s tenure at Guy Laroche. My homage is a Blouse & Pleated Skirt set, created in recycled satin in a pearly-white colour. The blouse features a fake pocket that looks like it’s stained in Yves Klein Blue ink, a nod to the sense of humour I feel Alber’s clothes had. The pleats on the skirt feature a jagged & asymmetrical hem. The white ostrich feather hat is created in collaboration with South African milliner Crystal Birch”, Thebe shares in an Instagram post. 

Thebe Magugu then continued to express his gratitude for Alber Elbaz and the legacy he left behind. 

“I am so honoured to have participated in a beautiful industry send off to Alber Elbaz. Growing up, the industry didn’t seem cruel to me because of personalities like him, who spoke to the idea that kindness & excellence can co-exist with one another. His celebration of the female form & the rolodex of references he has provided unto the world will be one of his many legacies. 

We will all continue to be fans of Alber and his contribution to fashion and the self.

Thank you to Alex Koo & the AZ FACTORY team. Rest in Peace Alber”

Though Alber Elbaz has sadly passed, his legacy and contributions to the fashion industry and contemporary fashion has birthed a new generation of designers like Thebe Magugu, who consistently push the boundaries of fashion. 

With this, we can’t wait to see what Thebe Magugu and the AZ Factory have in store for us. 

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