IKsasa Lami by Siyababa Mtshali // Conscious Design and Time-travelling Narratives

The technological time-traveler, appears brazenly in this dimension. Donned in silver chains and tassels. The imposing presence is revealed through a semi-fictioned narrative. Young designer, Siyababa Mtshali explores the space between the past, present and future. The figure that appears in this series of images is conceptualized as a Zulu prince. This prince “was banished into the future after the assassination of his father (King Shaka Zulu) in 1828. His jealous family knew African royalty would have no power over the land in the year 4087. His ancestors captured his body in the portal as he flew through time.”

“This editorial explores the contrast between robotics and culture where black magic and modern technology fuse together to create a new dimension”. The visual articulation of this prince stemmed from Siyababa’s design process. “My design process begins with written words, where I develop characters and personalities. This includes names, social backgrounds and the time where my character is placed – going as far as to highlighting insecurities and hardships. Thereafter, I pick up a pencil and sketch what I believe best describes the essence of my character.”

Originally from Kwa-Zulu Natal, “Johannesburg has shed a different light on my views on the fashion industry. The competition so is real! In most I’ve gained support from people that I highly respect, who insure the quality of the work and originality of my craft. A special shout out to Didi Nsthudisane.” Siyababa’s work is also steeped in politics, as a firm proponent of the Pro-Black Movement. His writing often explores issues around Homophobia and Afrophobia. “These are acts of hate. I believe as a nation that was previously oppressed we have no right to oppress others, let alone burn them.”

The space and articulation of gender is also one that Siyababa explores, “there is a thin between masculinity and femininity in fashion. I explore different silhouettes and fabrics assigned to a specific gender during my design process; I intersect them to make genderless clothing.” It is always refreshing to see personal politics translated into process and conscious design.

“Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed” – Judith Butler

Creative Director/Photography: Khensani Mohlatlole

Make-up: Jessica Goldberg and Rebecca Mofokeng

Styling: Siyabonga Mtshali


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