News Brief
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

OS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: Trevor Noah attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

South Africa's Trevor Noah to Host 2021 Grammys

South African comedian and host of 'The Daily Show', Trevor Noah, has been announced as the Master of Ceremonies for the 63rd Grammys which are set to air in January of next year.

According to reports by Rolling Stone, South African comedian and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, has been announced as the official host for the upcoming 63rd Grammys. This will mark an end to American musician Alicia Keys' two-year role as Master of Ceremonies and see a comedian returning to the stage as host of the awards show. And as everyone knows by now, Noah is quite the comedian at awards shows in particular.

READ: Trevor Noah's 'Great Xhosa Phrase' at the Oscars Was Very On Brand

Speaking about the recent announcement in a press statement, Noah says:

"Despite the fact that I am extremely disappointed that the Grammys have refused to have me sing or be nominated for best pop album, I am thrilled to be hosting this auspicious event. I think as a one-time Grammy nominee, I am the best person to provide a shoulder to all the amazing artists who do not win on the night because I, too, know the pain of not winning the award! (This is a metaphorical shoulder, I'm not trying to catch corona). See you at the 63rd Grammys!"

Harvey MasonJunior, chair and interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, has described Noah as a "dynamic host, comedian and personality" and echoed that the academy is "thrilled to welcome him to the Grammy stage as host of Music's Biggest Night for the first time," according to Variety.

Noah himself was previously nominated for a Grammy last year in the "Best Comedy Album" category for his Son of Patricia production. The nomination followed shortly after he had become the first African comedian ever to completely sell-out New York's Madison Square Garden. This, of course, is in addition to all the Emmy nominations he has racked up for his continued work with TheDaily Show with Trevor Noah.

The 2021 Grammys are set to be broadcast on Sunday, January 31st of next year on American television network, CBS. The awards show will also be live-streamed and made accessible via the Grammys' official website.

Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

Dunsin Wright on Creating Tems' Headline-Grabbing Style Moments

With Tems’ rise in global fame comes a greater need for fashion that keeps up with the star’s dazzling ascent. It’s a job Dunsin Wright was born for.

The Nigerian stylist has more than kept up with Tems’ rise in global fame, matching the singer’s dazzling ascent with one captivating look after another.

She’s responsible for dressing one of the biggest African artists right now, but Dunsin Wright wasn’t always certain she wanted to work in fashion. You’d never know this by the confident approach she’s taken to making sure Tems stands out whenever she steps out. The stylist and creative director has been working with the global superstar for most of Tems’ time in the limelight – which includes an Oscar nomination for co-writing Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from the Black Panther 2 soundtrack and a Grammy award for her work with Future and Drake.

Growing in Lagos, Wright had been encouraged to chase a degree that would lead her to a white collar job. But by the time she was at university, she began to realize the passion she had for fashion could help chart her future. After completing a degree in politics and international relations, Wright decided to start working in fashion PR. A few career turns later, she found herself at the designer Lisa Folawiyo, where she met her future star client and close friend, Tems. Today, two years in, the two have a close-knit friendship and working relationship: Wright has been the mastermind behind some of Tems most career-defining fashion moments, from the Oscars to the Met Gala.

OkayAfrica spoke to Wright about the process behind putting together Tems’ red carpet appearances, why Robert Wun is a go-to, and her other creative endeavors.

The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

How exactly did you make the transition from fashion PR to working as a stylist?

I moved back to Lagos and started working in-house with the brand Lisa Folawiyo which gave me so much experience because it was a very small team. I had the opportunity to be very hands-on with every stage of production. It gave me a better idea of what I was the best at – doing all the shoots, styling the pieces, the production element, getting everybody together, and also coming up with a creative strategy. I realized, as well, that I wasn't really into designing per se.

How did your working relationship with Tems start?

I was working at Lisa Folawiyo at the time, and I met someone from Tems’ team who said that Tems was trying to have a press shoot and asked if I'd be available to style it. I remember Tems was quite specific about the kinds of looks that she wanted. She sent me a whole document on all the different vibes and ideas that she had. I'd put them together, had my ideas, and got some clothes together. And we've had this shot and we just really fell in love. It was just an instant connection. We continued working from then and it has been amazing.

Can you walk us through your creative process?

It depends on the project. It depends on the person. What I like to do is I like to speak to the client and figure out where their head is, what they're interested in, what their inspiration is, what they like, what they're watching, and what music they're listening to. I like to have a good idea of the person's personality. And I find that that makes all the conceptualization a lot easier, because it allows me to have a good picture of who the person is, and allows us to align ideas.

The main thing about styling is to present people with an elevated version of themselves. And for that, they need to be comfortable. They need to love what they're wearing. It's not just for me, and it's not just for the audience, the person in question is still a person, and they need to feel comfortable while at most elevated versions.

What are some of the favorite looks you have done so far?

One of my favorites is a shoot that hasn't come out yet. A shoot I did with the Nigerian brand Fruché. And probably Tems’ Met Gala after-party look. I liked the dress that I put her in by this designer Taiba Taiba. Those are my top two.

Tell me more about the Met Gala…

We found out she was going pretty late. Whenever I thought about my first Met Gala moment, I always imagined I would have, like, six months to prepare but we only had a couple of weeks. And it came together pretty quickly. One of the first people that came to my mind was Robert Wun. I was impressed with his last runway show. There was a lot of pouring over archives and photos and collections.

One thing that I knew is that I wanted to take some of the designs and make them completely new. Somehow make it so it wasn’t just copying and pasting but make it feel also true to Tems; make it something that she's comfortable in. And a designer that just felt right was Robert Wun. I felt like when I was even looking at his last collection, I did see some Chanel influence. Even with the final design that we went with for Tems, with all the feather detailing, that was a motif that ran through Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel runways, specifically in the ‘90s. And that's something that Robert Wun employed in his last runway show.

Just to see that, being able to marry the two, felt very seamless. I worked with an archivist as well, Kim Russell, who very quickly, gathered all of these references and put them in massive documents, which helped out. So I was able to narrow down my ideas a lot easier.

How would you describe the whole process?

It was just really a great process. The narrowing down was quite easy, and then after that, he gave us about five sketches to run back and forth for a few days. It must have been a week until we decided what we wanted to do.

The first choice was completely different from what she wore on the carpet because we kept tweaking and tweaking many different things. We removed some buttons, we changed the type of feathers, we changed the type of headpiece, and more. Because when we did our first fitting, we just found that we wanted something a bit more delicate, something that just felt more in line with Tems’ personality as well. I probably had the most fun styling for the Met Gala, which actually might have been the hardest one or the most stressful one but I think I had the most fun doing it.

One of Tems’ most iconic style moments was what she wore to the 2022 Oscars. What are your thoughts about the controversy that followed about her headpiece potentially blocking the view of the attendees behind her?

I expected there to be some backlash, I probably didn't realize how much it would be. I do think that those reactions are often disproportionate towards Black people. I think that the reaction online versus in real life was completely different. Online, a lot of people loved it and some were living for the controversy. But in person, no one was bothered by it. Even the people behind her sent us an email after saying how they think that she deserves an award for that outfit. The couple sitting directly behind her communicated to let us know they were fine with it.

It just shows the difference between online perception versus real life. It was funny, at the end of the day. I always say that some of my favorite fashion moments, ever, are the ones that can strike up a conversation and make you think. If we could do it again, I would do it the same way.

Last year you staged an exhibition at the FREEME Space in Lagos, titled 2121, how did that come about?

I was inspired by my love of film, and sci-fi in particular. I went to this exhibition in Brooklyn in 2018 or so. It was surrounding Pierre Cardin and all his works while he was alive, and it basically explained all his inspiration and all his thoughts and walked us through, like, his journal entries. I saw that all his inspiration stemmed from a very Western version of what the future could look like, things from the Jetsons, or very Western-centric ideas of what the global future could look like.

I didn't necessarily always feel represented. It didn't feel so accurate to our experience. So 2121 was just about reclaiming those narratives and presenting them in a way that feels very authentic and personal. I wanted to just create a space for Black creatives, designers, and consumers of fashion to be able to sort of dream out of our impending reality, especially also when things felt quite bleak.

Do you have any more exhibitions lined up for this year? What else is next?

I'm hoping to do another one around this year. Probably around ArtX Lagos, and we're gonna have a few other activations around it. I'm not going to say too much, but I will be releasing some information about that soon.

I'm working with a few new artists that we've signed to the label that I'm working with called Mars. So I'm looking forward to developing these new artists. I'm looking into designing a couple of pieces in collaboration with a couple of brands. I have some exciting styling projects coming up very soon as well. Tems’ album is coming out pretty soon, and I’m excited to work on the creative strategy for that.

Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

5 Designers to Watch at South African Fashion Week SS23

Here are five designers to watch at South African Fashion Week SS23.

From April 20 to 23, South African Fashion Week will hit Johannesburg for its spring summer 2023 showcase. More than fulfilling the need of a fashion show, SAFW has accelerated the growth of South Africa’s fashion scene, by creating avenues to discover local talents, promoting local craftsmanship, boosting the retail economy, and triggering conversations like sustainability. SAFW is also responsible for launching the labels of prominent homegrown designers like Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, Lukhanyo Mdingi, Reggi Xaba, and Sindiso Khumalo.

As one of Africa’s leading fashion event, SAFW now enters its 26th year. And over three days, it will host 11 shows and showcase 39 collections at Mall of Africa, its official venue partner. The SS23 show will see it join forces with contingents from Mozambique (Chibai, Mabenna, and Cuccla). It’s a first time collaboration, syncing Mozambique Fashion Week with South Africa’s, which will close out the show.

Going strong is SAFW’s New Talent Search, a local-run competition to discover fresh and under-the-radar talents. Returning as a headline sponsor of this segment is fashion retailer Mr Price. From Mmathoo Silika to Sifiso Kunene to Kuhle Phumzile Zondo, this year’s entrants will open proceedings at SAFW and may the best talent win. On the other hand, there are other designers we have on our radar. Not only have they been impressive in the past, we just love the mystery of not knowing what to expect.

Here are five designers to watch at South African Fashion Week SS23.

Thando Ntuli (Munkus)

After winning SAFW’s talent search competition in 2022, Thando Ntuli became a national buzz. Her womenswear brand, Munkus, was created in 2019 and has been a time capsule of '80s and '90s Soweto style influences. From its playful, whimsical silhouettes to bold and daring prints, the brand is bridging wardrobes across generations of women.

Further, a sustainability narrative has governed Ntuli’s approach to making garments. Involving technical details that imbue sentimentality, the brand prides itself on quality over quantity. In doing so, the garment’s shelf life can be extended enough to be passed down. Munkus has also adopted layering cues, allowing customers to style with other pieces. At SAFW SS23, the designer is slated to appear on day one, debuting the brands’s Isikhathi/Time SS23 collection.

Fikile Sokhulu

A 2021 WWD profile had spotlighted Fikile Sokhulu as a designer to watch. Indeed, the Durban-based designer finished as a finalist at the 2018 SAFW talent search contest. Launched in 2018, Sokhulu’s eponymous brand was among the selected few for the Fashion Bridges project in 2021. A collaboration between South Africa and Italy, the cultural exchange initiative saw Sokhulu unveil a new collection during Milan Fashion Week.

The brand’s romantic aesthetic (ruffles, frills, pleats, ruching) and feminine tailoring tap into soft sensibilities. When the brand started out, it had heavily featured white, which can still be found in recent collections.

Sipho Mbuto

Durban-based Sipho Mbuto created his self-named, androgynous brand in 2018. A finalist at the 2021 SAFW New Talent Search, Mbutho also participated in the Fashion Bridges project. And this is only a few of the recognitions he has. The brand’s aesthetic tows the line between understated and dramatic, mix matching and clean monochromatic lines.

In Mbuto’s world, he has been sustaining a dialogue around the gender question of clothes, prioritizing self-expression, functionality, movement, and durability. At SAFW 2021, he showcased a collection made out of upcycled denim, second hand jeans sourced from street markets and then deconstructed. At the core of the brand are zero-waste measures informing its production method.

Ntando Ngwenya (Ntando XV)

Photo by Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Ntando Ngwenya isn’t a new name in South African fashion. A self-taught designer, he showcased his debut capsule collection in 2015 at the Johannesburg Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. In 2017, he became the winner of David Tlale’s The Intern, a South African reality show with contestants competing to be Tlale’s next assistant designer.

In the years that have followed, Ngwenye has found a niche in menswear with Ntando XV, created in 2015. The experimental label has been inclusive nonetheless, combining wardrobe essentials with postmodern techniques. A visual signature is the contrasting white piping that wreathe around garments. In the SS23 SAFW designer lineup, Ngwenya showcases on the last day, and we look forward to it.

Gugu Peteni (Gugu by Gugu)

A finalist in the 2020 and 2022 SAFW’s Scouting Menswear competition, Gugu Peteni established Gugu by Gugu in 2019 as a streetwear label. Her experience designing for Mohair South Africa for three years helped the designer to navigate Gugu by Gugu in the streetwear market. It also explains her love for mohair, and how the material has crept into her own label.
From colorful knits, denim, velvet dungarees, mohair coats, jumpers to bomber jackets, embossed logos and hand-painted essentials, Peteni has created a wide range of streetwear pieces. For SAFW’s AW22 showcase, she collaborated with South African artist Moagi Letseki to render paintwork on some offerings. It was also a collection that used sustainable techniques and materials used in Peteni’s home. Gugu by Gugu will showcase on April 22, the last day of SAFW.

News Brief

Uganda's President Will "Go To War" Over New Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

President Museveni is defending the world's harshest anti-human rights bill, threatening death for being gay.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has declared that he will go to war to protect the country's anti-LGBTQ+ bill passed this week. "The NRM (National Resistance Movement) has never had two languages," he said in a statement released by his office on Wednesday, "What we tell you in the day is what we shall say to you at night. The signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is finished; nobody will move us, and we should be ready for a war. Remember, war is not for the soft." Museveni made an onslaught of chaotic comments when he met with lawmakers from his ruling party this week, as he continues to defend signing one of the world's harshest anti-LGBTQ+ bills to date.

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The Best South African Songs Right Now

Featuring new South African music from Inkabi Zezwe, Nomfundo Moh, Tyla, K.O, A-Reece and more.

Here are the South African songs and music videos that caught our attention this month.

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