The competition, which saw roughly 1,700 applicants apply this year from which 20 designers were selected.
Magugu was presented with the prize by actress and Louis Vuitton brand ambassador Alicia Vikander. The prize includes a 300,000 euro cash price and a year-long business mentorship in LVMH.
As a part of the shortlist both Nigerian designer Kenenth Ize and Magugu released capsule collections for the 24 Sèvres e-commerce site owned by LVMH. They also got to dress one of British Vogue’s September issue cover star Adut Akech.
Magugu said while presented with the honor that he has learned a whole lot and met the most inspiring people just as a finalist. He continued, "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. This is like the cherry on top.”
Alicia Vikander, a face of Louis Vuitton, presented Magugu with the honor. “The talent in this room is quite simply stupefying, and the finalists represent the future of fashion.”
Daphne Arnault, the executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and the founder of the LVMH Prize, “The creativity of his designs is great, the colors, 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.”
Speaking about what his win means to the creatives in South Africa, and Africa as a whole, Thebe added, “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 traveling but I really want to stay there because it feeds my own creativity.”
This win makes Magugu the youngest designer at 26 and first African to earn this prize.
What an amazing win for Thebe and the continent as whole!
About Thebe Magugu
Thebe Magugu is the eponymous label from a young, contemporary South African designer born and raised in Kimberley, SA.
On his Instagram, Thebe wrte a heartfelt message thanking the LVMH group for including him in the shortlist:
I am so honoured to be selected as one of the Top 8 Finalists for the @lvmhprize and to be part of such a monumental initiative by @lvmh.
Creating clothes with cultural significance, exploring social issues, sharing stories from my country, empowering those I can, and making beautiful yet functional clothes women want to wear has been a checklist I continually hold the brand to, and getting to share that with the world - through @thebemagugu and @facultypress - has been the biggest driving force.
Thebe admits that his love for fashion was inspired by the brilliant women who played a crucial part in his upbringing and introduced him to the magic of clothes. As a result, his label focuses primarily on women’s ready to wear and accessories.
Thebe studied Fashion & Apparel Design at Lisof Fashion School in Johannesburg and since graduating, his work has become an integral part of the way South African’s view modern design. Always one to make a statement, Thebe uses his clothes to explore themes of gender disparity, race and tradition.e