The A-Listers

SOCIALS | SA designer celebrates two special moments at launch of her collab with H&M

18 August 2019 - 01:32
By craig jacobs AND Craig Jacobs
Palesa Mokubung and Prenilla Wohlfahrt at Victoria Yards.
Image: John Liebenberg Palesa Mokubung and Prenilla Wohlfahrt at Victoria Yards.

African fashion went global this week when Swedish mega-retailer H&M put its collaboration with local designer label Mantsho on the rails.

To mark the occasion, fashion plates turned up to check out the threads at a grungy but cool newish spot, Victoria Yards, in Bertrams on the edge of the Joburg CBD.

Mantsho, which means "black is beautiful" in Sotho, is the creative outlet of Palesa Mokubung, who cut her teeth at trailblazing fashion house Stoned Cherrie.

It must feel like your birthday, I tell the spectacled designer at the launch.

"It happens to be my daughter's second birthday today," says Palesa, beaming.

Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M's assortment manager for collaborations and special collections, flew in from Sweden.

"We love her ethos and aesthetic, and it is very much part of the global trend in terms of diversity and finding inspiration all over the world," she says.

With Unathi Nkayi as the night's MC, the high point is when Palesa joins dancers appearing in the TV commercial for the collaboration, to bop around to a live performance by pan-African collective Batuk.

Guests include Penny Lebyane, publisher Laurice Taitz, Carte Blanche reporter Claire Mawisa and Mmabatho Montsho, the actress married to tot-sized EFF politico Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, whose party stormed H&M stores to protest against that monkey jersey.

I catch up with singer Shekhinah, MTV's Kim Jayde, mover and shaker Allana Finley and brand guru Thebe Ikalafeng.

Are any of you wearing Mantsho? I ask sassy broadcasters Melanie Bala, Masechaba Ndlovu and Nothemba Madumo.

"We are here to pick out what we are going to buy," says Nothemba.

So, what did I think of the threads?

Must-have chic and elegant separates to suit the curvy African form. But is it me or do the African-print bow espadrilles look eerily similar to the designs of Mantsho local shoe collaborator Galago? One can only hope this is not a case of pilfering the designs of a fellow designing sister.