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Meet Phupho Gumede-K, stylist to the stars of 'Young, Famous & African'

His talent has turned Netflix's reality show 'Young, Famous & African' into a lesson in haute couture styling, over-the-top accessorising and everyday glam

27 March 2022 - 00:01 By Ricci-Lee Kalish
Stylist Phupho Gumede-K is a master of styling for reality TV.
Stylist Phupho Gumede-K is a master of styling for reality TV.
Image: Supplied

SA has its fair share of public drama. Sadly, most of it takes place in our government, splashed across newspaper front pages, and it often negatively affects our day-to-day lives. So it was a delight to attend the premiere of Young, Famous & African, a uniquely South African show with all the drama and none of the worries that are part of our daily reality.

The show is a reality series that follows a crew of celebrities as they work and play, flirt and feud in the City of Gold, celebrating all things African, extravagant and excessive. If the drama of the show doesn't hook you, the fashion certainly will. The show is a lesson in haute couture styling, over-the-top accessorising and everyday glamour. Our teacher? Stylist to the stars Phupho Gumede-K.

Gumede-K is a master of styling for reality TV. His work has been on our screens for years. He styled South African star Ayanda Ncwane in her former role on Real Housewives of Durban, and it was this experience, coupled with his understanding of local TV, that enabled Gumede-K to deck the bright lights and big city streets of Sandton in style as he took on dressing the stars of Young, Famous & African.

Gumede-K’s Instagram page offers a look into his life and shows his love of all things dazzling. He's a celebrity in his own right, with his double-barrelled surname, Gumede-Kardashian, and his constant travelling, events and photo shoots.

We caught up with him to find out what it takes to style some of Africa’s famous faces.

Gumede-K explains that a stylist isn't there to copy and paste their own ideas onto their clients. Their job is to work with each celebrity’s style, taste and concerns. For some celebs, a stylist is more like a personal shopper. For others, a stylist brings options to the table, and for some, stylists do it all, including being a friend and confidant. Gumede-K says his work isn't about reinventing his clients; it's about pushing style boundaries and giving local brands a global platform.

WATCH | The trailer for 'Young, Famous & African.

Annie Idibia is one of the stars styled for the show by Gumede-K, who straddled the line line between expressing his own taste and allowing her to express hers. He says: “Annie is a star with a celebrity image, so she's very specific about how she wants to look”. A standout look for Annie is the black and yellow Gert-Johan Coetzee ball gown. It has an obvious wow factor, and the juxtaposition of the dress with her short hair and natural-looking makeup ensured that she didn't look “over the top”.

Gumede-K also styled Diamond Platinumz, who he described as easy-going and willing to push fashion boundaries. Gumede-K took the reins when it came to Platinumz' wardrobe and it was this “collaborative trust” that allowed them to created some of the most iconic looks of the show, such as the three-piece suit and turtleneck.

One of the standout looks of the show was a once-off collaboration between the stylist and Khanyi Mbau. A dress designed by Orapeleng Modutle was paired with a Jozi-style crown for a maximalist style extravaganza.

Khanyi Mbau in an Orapeleng Modutle gown and Jozi-style crown.
Khanyi Mbau in an Orapeleng Modutle gown and Jozi-style crown.
Image: Netflix
Zari the Boss Lady.
Zari the Boss Lady.
Image: Supplied: Netflix

Gumede-K says styling Zari the Boss Lady wasn't only easy —  “she's so gracious and pulls off everything” — but also familiar, reminding him of the when he styled Ayanda Ncwane. 

Gumede-K's years of styling have made one thing clear, he says: “Local style is best.” His mission is not only to make each star of the show a fashion icon, but also to give our local designers a platform to show their work. Whether the pieces were sourced straight from the runway or were a collaborative effort between star, stylist and designer, it's Gumede-K’s belief that our designers are on par with global fashion makers.

As for us, we can't wait for season 2. 

• 'Young, Famous & African' is on Netflix.


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