Lukhanyo Mdingi completed his BTech in Fashion Design at Cape Peninsular University of Technology at the end of 2014. Testament to his drive and incredible work ethic, he graduated with two impeccable collections – one ready-to-wear and one more experimental which debuted globally on fuckingyoung.es in November. This collection, titled ‘Iridescence’ is the practical implementation of his thesis ‘Avant Garde Menswear: A Challenge to South African Fashion’.
In 2013 Lukhanyo was selected as a finalist for the ELLE Rising Star Design Award for which he created his Basics collection, which we showcased along with his 3rd year collection, Granite. So it feels only fitting that Lukhanyo should be part of our annual Fresh Meat Graduate Series this year so that we can complete the circle of this bright young fashion designer’s student showcase and feature his stellar final collection, Iridescence.
How and why did you become interested in fashion design?
Fashion is something that attracted me instantly. Firstly it was all about the clothes – visually, then later I learnt that there was a lot more beyond just pretty garments and fabrics. Fashion has allowed me to be part of a world where I’m able to use my design skills and passion to interpret my vision into garments. I believe that fashion can speak volumes about a person – it can become an instant representation of who you are.
What do you enjoy, or alternatively dislike, about it?
There’s still a lot I need to learn about fashion, so far I love everything and dislike nothing.
How would you describe your style of design, and what influences it?
I feel pretty fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to have created four collections, the passed three have all had a distinct relation to one another with progression in each. I attempt to add onto a minimal aesthetic that’s based on creating strong and distinct pieces that are considered powerful rather than bland – where less is more.
Was studying fashion what you expected it to be? Has your perception of the field changed since your first year? – And if so how?
It wasn’t what I expected. It’s extremely difficult but also so rewarding. Not only do you have the opportunity to work with other creatives, but more importantly it’s a chance to mould and identify yourself as a designer. I’ve realised that a lot of hustling needs to take place in order to differentiate yourself from others, with that, being loyal and true yourself. A lot of designers blur or lose their aesthetics to accommodate the commercial market.
Previously you’ve designed womenswear. What made you decide to do a menswear collection for your grad show, and what creative challenges and learnings did this provide you?
As a man I’ve always loved menswear more then womenswear. I wanted to use my BTech year as an opportunity to challenge myself by creating an Avant-Garde menswear collection as well as a Ready-to-Wear collection. The execution of both collections (menswear and womenswear) was different, and each taught me something new with regards to the technicalities of creating and sewing the garments.
Iridescence is a bold avant-garde statement that is both futuristic and distinctly artisanal. Please tell us about your concept behind Iridescence and how you executed it in the garments.
The primary foundation was based on the iridescent tones that are created by the reflection of natural light on various matters and materials as well as the silhouettes of the Indian Temples.
The collection is the practical component of my thesis titled Avant-Garde Menswear: A Challenge to South African Fashion. Through the use of an unconventional material – Mylar and dome-like silhouettes – I attempted to create statement pieces that can be considered as art rather than just garments.
The iridescent embellishments were all individually hand sewn (with the help of a hand beader) and the batting fabric was used as an inner layer to create desired form and silhouettes of each statement piece.
Who do you have in mind when designing a new collection?
To me it’s “what” do I have in mind when designing a new collection. It’s important for me to have a strong concept that I can translate into garments. With finishing studying fashion design in South Africa, I’ve realised that I have to create pieces for the real life man. I envision a man who has a strong appreciation of basic staple pieces, which embodies qualities of fine detailing and good craftsmanship.
What’s the best piece of advice you received while studying?
Which of your creative projects are you most proud of?
I love all my collections but it’s my Basics Collection that comes to mind first. It was based on clean minimal looks that were inspired by basic shapes and the human body. Using fabric types that either exposed or enhanced the natural female form. This collection was the beginning of me identifying my aesthetic.
What are your plans for 2015 and beyond?
Before the launch of my menswear collection my plans were completely different to what they are now after the launch of the collection. Life happens and unfortunately I’m unable to confidently say exactly what will take place through the course of the next year. However, I’m extremely excited as the beginning of 2015 is going to be absolutely incredible.
Where can we stay updated with your work?
Right now I have an online portfolio on Behance and I use my Instagram account solely for my Fashion Design and Concepts. I’ve realised the importance of having an online presence, especially a website and tumblr, so I’ll be using those two as forums as well soon.
Iridescence image credits:
Photos: Travys Owen
Styling: Gabrielle Kannemeyer
MAU: Amber Caplan
Model: Sanele Xaba
More Fresh Meat coming soon.