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This designer just made major fashion history by becoming the first African to win the LVMH Prize

This award is arguably the most coveted award for young fashion designers.

Thebe Magugu is the winner of the sixth edition of LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers  (DR / LVMH Prize)

The winner of the 2019 Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) Prize for Young Designers has been revealed.

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Out of the initial 1700 designers from all over the world and eight finalists, the jury chose Thebe Magugu as the winner on September 4, 2019, at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France.

The 26-year-old South African designer is now the first African-born recipient of this highly-sought global fashion award.

Alicia Vikander, a face of Louis Vuitton, presented Magugu with the honour saying, “The talent in this room is quite simply stupefying, and the finalists represent the future of fashion.”

Reacting to his incredible win, Magugu said, “It’s a lot of firsts. As a creative, you’re always questioning yourself, but people around me told me there was no harm trying. I went into it like a child and got the chance to speak to my design heroes like Clare Waight Keller and Nicolas Ghesquière. So no matter the outcome, I already felt like I’d won so many things.”

Nodding to his trophy, he added, “This is like the cherry on top. I can’t say this has been two years in the making: this has been in the making since grade four. Every cell in my body has been geared towards my being a person in fashion and being a designer.”

Delphine Arnault, the Executive Vice President of Louis Vuitton and founder of the LVMH Prize, shared her thoughts on this year’s winner.

In her words, “I am delighted that for the first time an African candidate has won the Prize, all the more so since Thebe Magugu, aged 26, is the youngest designer of the 2019 selection. His creative work appropriates the codes of menswear and womenswear, of the traditional and the experimental, playing with volumes and traditional South-African know-how. The creativity of his designs is great — the colours, the cuts, it’s very feminine. We saw the talent, and we also saw the challenges — in export for example. It’s great to find talent with a huge potential.”

In addition to winning his award, he will receive $338 000 and partake in a one-year mentorship program with a special LVMH team.

However, Magugu, who is based in Johannesburg, has no plans of relocating to Paris. 

“My overarching mission as a designer is to showcase a contemporary South Africa,” he said. “So many people have stale ideas of what that means and I really want to change that. There are so many creatives doing incredible work in South Africa. I’m looking forward to travelling but I really want to stay there because it feeds my own creativity.”

Magugu’s LVMH prize comes after he was crowned the winner of the International Fashion Showcase at the 2019 London Fashion Week.

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