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From fashion’s embrace of Elsa Majimbo to Kenneth Ize’s long-awaited Karl Lagerfeld collaboration, we’re hitting rewind on the year’s defining moments in African style.

By Lindsay Samson

Dec 20, 2021

After the madness of 2020, 2021 saw something of a return to business as usual, along with a tangible re-embrace of fashion. Red carpets were back, fashion weeks across the world returned, and designers leaned into bold, bright, and beautiful. As for Africa’s crop of design talent? They took the new year as an opportunity to make some of their strongest fashion statements yet. Read on as we look back at some of the most unforgettable fashion moments of the year and learn more about the designers putting their best foot forward. 


Ib Kamara Named Dazed Editor in Chief

January '21

Ahead of Dazed Magazine’s 30th anniversary, January 2021, saw the iconic British fashion and culture publication announce some exciting changes to their masthead, including the appointment of celebrated Sierra Leone-born stylist Ib Kamara as the new editor-in-chief. Introducing a new era for the Jefferson Hack-founded publication, one that also saw fellow Sierra-Leonian, Lynette Said taking the reins as executive editorial director, it also marked something of a full-circle moment for Kamara, whose very first fashion editorial was one he styled for Dazed. Since then, the stylist and creative director who is synonymous for his boundary-pushing editorial work that both questions gender and celebrates Black beauty wholeheartedly, has gone on to produce work for some of the world’s top brands, including Fenty, Burberry, and Stella McCartney, and now he leads a team of creatives in a mission to platform new voices and talents from across the world. “At a precarious moment in the lives of young people all over the world, Dazed’s vision is that we will connect every reader, follower, and visitor no matter where they reside, to a global social community,” Kamara stated of his new role. “The future of youth rests in their hands—Dazed will be the lightning rod and the communal space—creating a human connection where there is none, bringing momentum to the youth culture movement,” he explains.

Ib Kamara Debut Issue Cover. Photo: via @dazedmagazine

Ib Kamara. Photo: via New York Times

Dazed Magazine cover styled by Ib Kamara. Photo: via @dazedmagazine


The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquires Thebe Magugu’s ‘Girl Seeks Girl’ dress

March '21

For the past few years, celebrated South African designer Thebe Magugu has been on a steady climb to the upper echelons of the global fashion industry, and his latest milestone has seen The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired his ‘Girl Seeks Girl’ dress for their permanent collection. Selected by the institute “to preserve it as an example of outstanding contemporary design,” the illustrated garment—which was produced in collaboration with artist Phathu Nembwili —formed a part of Magugu’s FW‘18 HOME ECONOMICS collection and, according to the designer, is a timeless statement on solidarity amongst women in the face of continued gender-based violence. “This dress has always been incredibly special to me,” he said. “[The illustration] signifies that women really need one another now more than ever because there is clearly a war that rages against them.” 

Thebe Magugu ‘Girl Seeks Girl Dress’. Photo: via @thebemagugu

‘Girl Seeks Girl’ Dress on Runway from FW‘18 Collection. Photo: Courtesy of Thebe Magugu

Designer Thebe Magugu. Photo: via Vogue


The Global Fashion Scene Embraces Elsa Majimbo

June '21

2021 has seen Kenyan internet sensation Elsa Majimbo’s star rise to impossible heights, and the 19-year-old Gen-Z comedian has wasted no time in acquiring the fashion chops to match. And while it was last year that she joined the Fenty family with a hilarious sunglass campaign skit on her Instagram, 2021 was the year in which the international fashion world truly embraced her with open arms. In March, she teamed up with iconic fashion house Valentino to present her debut book, The Alphabet for Kids and Adults. Co-authored by Mohamed Kheir (Majimbo’s manager) and Majimbo—who has so far amassed over 2 million followers on Instagram—the title reinterprets the ABCs per Majimbo’s quick-witted, sarcastic humor to feature basic words as they would be used by children as well as a comedic adult take on them. But that was only the beginning: she appeared on the cover of Native Magazine clad in Bottega Veneta in June, graced the pages of GQ while wearing Versace not long after, and even secured an invite to the MET Gala where she rocked a glittering silver dress by who else but Valentino.

Elsa Majimbo in Versace on the cover of GQ South Africa. Photo: via @gq

Elsa Majimbo in Bottega Veneta on the cover of Native Magazine. Photo: via @nativemagazine

Elsa Majimbo x Valentino campaign. Photo: via @elsa.majimbo


Kenneth Ize X Karl Lagerfeld Capsule Collection

July '21

First announced in July 2020, the long-awaited capsule collection by Kenneth Ize for Karl Lagerfeld was released this past July. After pandemic-related delays, the genderless collection finally arrived in stores, blending European minimalism and Nigerian style aesthetics to striking effect. Featuring a range of vibrant styles and accessories rendered in Karl Lagerfeld’s signature shades of black and white, as well as a striking use of color delivered via prints inspired by Ize’s signature use of traditional Aso Oke cloth, the collection embodies his irresistibly eccentric approach to conventional methods. In addition, it shows off the classic Parisian tailoring that has defined Lagerfeld’s brand. According to Karl Largerfeld CEO Pier Paolo Righi, both Ize and the late French designer share a vision for innovation, craftsmanship, quality, and authenticity that is echoed in the collection, one that marks the first time in the brand’s history that it has collaborated with a Black designer. “There’s a freshness to Kenneth’s designs that is so very different, and it creates a nice contrast to the brand’s DNA,” offered Roitfeld. “I’m certain that Karl would have loved the collection and its exploration of color and culture.” Ize, who credits Lagerfeld for sparking his interest in design, added, “It was very important for me to express where I’m from because it was like introducing myself to [Karl].”

Kenneth Ize x Karl Lagerfield Capsule Collection. Photo: via @kennethize

Kenneth Ize x Karl Lagerfield Capsule Collection. Photo: via @kennethize

Kenneth Ize x Karl Lagerfield Capsule Collection. Photo: via @kennethize


Lukhanyo Mdingi Wins the LVMH Karl Lagerfeld Prize

September '21

Awarded annually to the global fashion industry’s most promising young design talent, South African designer Lukhanyo Mdingi was the sole African finalist for this year’s LVMH Prize, ultimately walking away with the coveted Karl Lagerfeld award. Founded in 2015, the designer’s eponymous brand is built on a foundation of meticulous craftsmanship. Since its inception, it has consistently showcased an intelligent design philosophy that prioritizes slow artisanal processes, premium raw materials, and timeless timelessness silhouettes. As a result, Mdingi’s pieces are a compelling marriage of simplicity and rebellion. Thanks to this minimalist design language, he’s amassed a dedicated local fanbase and is now the second LVMH Prize winner from South Africa after Thebe Magugu won in 2019. “But what I do doesn’t necessarily pertain to South Africa,” he told Vogue upon his win. “We’re fortunate enough to have been able to work with people… who are based in Burkina Faso, as well as Kenya and South Africa. Being part of that brings a sense of honesty to our label, and I’m incredibly grateful to be in the presence of them.”

Lukhanyo Mdingi Coutts Collection. Photo: via @lukhanyomdingi

Lukhanyo Mdingi Coutts Collection. Photo: via @lukhanyomdingi

Lukhanyo Mdingi. Photo: via @lukhanyomdingi