17 Oct Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful: Anisa Mpungwe
Anisa Mpungwe is the Tanzanian-born, Johannesburg-based fashion designer behind her own label Loin Cloth & Ashes, created to give women an alternative to the Little Black Dress. The proudly African womenswear brand was established after Anisa was announced the winner of the ELLE New Talent Design Award in association with Mr Price back in 2008. She has since returned to join the judging panel offering her advice to those following in her footsteps. In 2010 Anisa showed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York as part of the Arise Magazine Collective. Two years later in 2012, she opened her first flagship store in Maboneng. Last year Anisa launched an exclusive project range with Mr Price and has recently announced that a follow up collaboration with the fashion retailer will be launched on the 23rd of October.
Loin Cloth & Ashes is focused on clothing that complements the female form. Inspired by art, music, colour, shape, and Africa, Anisa designs for women who, like her, are powerful, confident and independent.
What were you like as a child? Growing up, was creativity actively encouraged?
Well, my mum says I liked to draw a lot and I had a lot of toys. My parents bought me an art table, it was red with built in cups to put all my paint in. I would sit there all day! I think mentally I disappeared into my dream world most of my childhood, it was great!
When, how and why did you start Loin Cloth & Ashes?
I started LCA in 2008 when I entered ELLE New Talent and won. It was confirmed when I got that title that I was in the right place and I was meant to do this.
What have been some of the challenges and triumphs along the way?
I think what I like about my work is that I learn new things every day about myself, about people, and about my craft. Sometimes it’s tricky when you work with many people, because everyone has their own way of working and one has to be understanding to get the job done.
Being the leader of the pack can also be challenging, you have to maintain your composure all the time because if my mood is bad the rest of the day is spoilt for everyone else.
What is the Loin Cloth & Ashes design aesthetic?
We like a unique story about what it is like to be African at this time. We focus on complimenting the female figure and playing with what fabric can do on a body. We also like functional wear, the LCA girl loves pockets. In some ways we are classic in our lines and silhouettes and in other ways we like to be a bit offbeat and playful; at the end of the day fashion should be a fun way to express oneself.
Is fashion art? Please explain…
Everything is Art. If an idea stems from a passionate place, it is art. From stitching a button to running a marathon.
What should a garment always be?
It should always be well made even when it looks imperfect, but made from love, as silly as it may sound. Suzy Menkes said once, at a dinner I attended, that the world keeps churning out factory-made clothes that have no soul, no dream, no love, we need that human connection back. I completely agree.
Powerful is…really knowing who you are, accepting it, owning it then passing that energy on to the next person.
When do you feel most powerful?
When I am feeling positive about things I feel pretty powerful.
What advice do you have for girls aspiring to be powerful women?
Don’t be ashamed to be powerful and a leader, it’s a big responsibility but if that chance is given to you, take it and be great.