design

into rich mnisi's bold new underworld

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If you haven't seen it yet, you’re about to fall in love with Rich Mnisi's new look book — an otherworldly trip to the spirit realm that explores the memory of his late great-grandmother, Nwa-Mulamula. In the look book, models become alien fashion creatures, dressed in the hypermodern, hyperluxe looks from Rich's ‘transeasonal’ 2018 collection, while sporting prosthetic pixie ears and elaborate headgear.
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NWA-MULAMULA: MOTHER LOOK 7 – Looking for Mother She is a sacred, powerful and spiritual component of my being - although she rests as a guardian in an ancestral realm, her spirit, lessons and sacrifices have defied temporal limitations and this is why for our Trans-seasonal ‘18 lookbook we explore the ancestral realm looking for her love. Mothers are the cornerstone of African family structures. From generation to generation, mothers are revered to be fierce protectors, like a lioness to her cubs. They birth nations and carry the burdens of the world on their shoulders. They are the supreme representation of love, bravery and strength. They are the ones known to hold a knife’s edge at the sharpest point. Their fortitude and personality traits are reincarnated through their children, their children’s children and lineage of loved ones who are likened to them. They are the timeless teachers of life and custodians of a centre of family rituals, customs and knowledge. When they crossover to live among the stars that overlook their own, their memory remains only in word; preserved through endearing stories told around a living room. Thus our matriarchs have continuously been erased or underrepresented in the patriarchal centre of memory and in the androcentric etymology of words that shape culture like “history” – from the greek word histor - meaning old wiseman. My ethereal connection to her manifests in the form of where I draw inspiration. NWA-MULAMULA is my artistic muse. As the centre of my current inspiration, herstory is a universal story of keeping memory alive. She is a symbolic representation of African mothers in all their glory that has been lost in time, undocumented and buried in the depths of our hearts. Director/Photographer - @ricardosimal Videographer - Ross Hillier Video Assistant - @lightnin_bertman Make-up Artist - @nandikai Prosthetic Artist - @ashley_alexander_powell Model - @dylanwentzel315

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House and Leisure caught up with Mnisi from his home in Johannesburg's Maboneng precinct, where he talked us through the inspiration behind the long-awaited look book, and his connection to his ancestors. ‘I never met my great-grandmother, and there are no photos of her, and no one knows when she was born, so I started investigating the idea behind her, and how I can tell her story, and the other untold stories like Nwa-Mulamulas,’ Mnisi explains.
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I’ve honestly been procrastinating shooting this lookbook for like 4 months now, I’ve been going through a lot of change in my life and it just felt like the least of my problems to focus too much on my career. I literally had to pull myself out of that and focus on my career again. It was important for me to present honest work that represents what I’m feeling right now. I literally had to go into a dark place to face myself to then find myself - my joy, ambition, health, truth and heart. Beyond representing my desire to tell untold stories, this lookbook represents the light that I am in a dark hollow place looking for my truth. I can never thank @ricardosimal enough for helping me through that journey and channeling all that energy into good work. Talking about Nwa-Mulamula and many untold stories like hers has given my craft a purpose... Thank you to the whole team for working on this project with me @ricardosimal Ross Hillier @lightnin_bertman @nandikai @ashley_alexander_powell @dylanwentzel315 @anyonasola @thaliastratea @ben_eagle_studio @therealcrystalbirch and a special thanks to @trevor_stuurman & @chesty_m she speaks my vision to life

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Most of the collection is black — a major break from the designer's colour-filled previous collections. ‘The reason it’s black is because we went to the ancestral realm, the "upside down" realm. The pixie ears become the distorted ideas of the truth that I found when I went looking, and start becoming these dark spaces of fictional, and distorted ideas that I have used to invent her. ‘The only access I had to her memory was sourced from conversations, so I could also begin under- or overdressing her based on how much information I had,’ he says.
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NWA-MULAMULA: MOTHER LOOK 3 – Looking for Mother She is a sacred, powerful and spiritual component of my being - although she rests as a guardian in an ancestral realm, her spirit, lessons and sacrifices have defied temporal limitations and this is why for our Trans-seasonal ‘18 lookbook we explore the ancestral realm looking for her love. Mothers are the cornerstone of African family structures. From generation to generation, mothers are revered to be fierce protectors, like a lioness to her cubs. They birth nations and carry the burdens of the world on their shoulders. They are the supreme representation of love, bravery and strength. They are the ones known to hold a knife’s edge at the sharpest point. Their fortitude and personality traits are reincarnated through their children, their children’s children and lineage of loved ones who are likened to them. They are the timeless teachers of life and custodians of a centre of family rituals, customs and knowledge. When they crossover to live among the stars that overlook their own, their memory remains only in word; preserved through endearing stories told around a living room. Thus our matriarchs have continuously been erased or underrepresented in the patriarchal centre of memory and in the androcentric etymology of words that shape culture like “history” – from the greek word histor - meaning old wiseman. My ethereal connection to her manifests in the form of where I draw inspiration. NWA-MULAMULA is my artistic muse. As the centre of my current inspiration, herstory is a universal story of keeping memory alive. She is a symbolic representation of African mothers in all their glory that has been lost in time, undocumented and buried in the depths of our hearts. Print: @ben_eagle_studio x @rich_mnisi Credits: Director/Photographer - @ricardosimal Videographer - Ross Hillier Video Assistant - @lightnin_bertman Make-up Artist - @nandikai Prosthetic Artist - @ashley_alexander_powell Model - @anyonasola

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The collection is 'transeasonal’ – a response, Mnisi says, to the local climate and international demand for his work. ‘I don’t work with seasons, we don’t really have a winter in South Africa, unlike Europe, ours always clashes, so it makes it easier to appeal to both markets at the same time without being a year late every time. It means that half of the clothes are intended for winter, and the other half for summer, and I leave that decision up to the buyer.’ Check out the full collection at richmnisi.com