Image via Elle
There’s something deeply sincere and genuine about the designer Lukhanyo Mdingi. And that sincerity often translates into his work. Now known for his poetic collections and campaigns, Mdingi first made his debut as a finalist on Elle magazine’s designer search back in 2013. Needless to say quite a lot has happened since then. Here, we talk about the art of creativity and inspiration. “It’s conversations that inspire me more than anything else”, Mdingi tells me over email. “It’s a beautiful thing to be in the presence of human beings that come from different backgrounds and have lived lives that are worlds apart from yours.”
TGS: Your work is so distinct and for me, makes a cultural statement that can evoke one psychologically. How hard or easy is it to be that different in an industry that often lacks independent creativity?
LM: To be honest I have to differ with you, especially when I speak about those that are in close proximity to me. When I look at my fellow peers and African designers, we are all independent in our creativity.
The key to achieving this is simply being in flow with your own rhythm. When you have the opportunity to create, and create and create each step brings you closer to yourself. I value the importance of progression and simply just learning. I think that the work that we create is a testament to that.
TGS: Do you have a particular creative routine that you follow when designing?
LM: Yes, I do. It’s important for me to have a natural progression when creating. I like to look at what was created in the past and see where I can add onto from that. There is a signature ‘stamp’ that our label needs to be in tune with. We have a deep love and passion for all of our pieces and we want the flow of that to be translated seamlessly through each collections.
TGS: Your campaigns often convey some artistic expression. Do you design a collection with the corresponding campaign in mind?
LM: The Purgation Collection was the one that had a campaign in mind while creating it and it was really wonderful to see and experience that. I’m at a stage where I’m constantly dreaming about campaigns and stories. It’s a natural progression I think where you want to continue the mood of the collection far beyond that actual clothes itself.
TGS: I think it’s interesting that you launched a diffusion label, Lukhanyo Mdingi Essentials. What inspired that move?
LM: I feel that the move was a natural and organic one. The Essentials label focuses on the essence of timeless classics that have a sense of romance to it. I’m a romantic myself and it’s important for me to translate that through the creations on both labels. I want to have a label that caters to different demographics of different kinds of people.
TGS: What inspires you?
LM: Conversations and story-telling. It’s a beautiful thing to be in the presence of human beings that come from different backgrounds and have lived lives that are worlds apart from yours. There’s an amalgamation of things that are constantly being thrown at us that we end up being consumed with rich and soulful things together with rubbish and nonsense, it’s up to ourselves to filter what is wholesome and what isn’t.
For more check out the designers SS17 campaign here.