The Premise | An introduction to the Lukhanyo Mdingi cosmology - Bubblegum Club

The Premise | An introduction to the Lukhanyo Mdingi cosmology

There was a certain kind of catharsis that came with it. It became a hybrid of experiencing a sense of vulnerability that was, at times, challenging and at others, incredibly simple. 

I wanted to bring this to a larger audience, and see if there are nuances within the human experience. 

Lukhanyo Mdingi, 2021.

Over the last five years alone, we have managed to witness a positive shift in the global attractiveness and viability of Black African fashion designers. Spearheaded by impressive global showings through South African fashion designers such as Thebe Magugu and Sindiso Khumalo, many more local fashion designers have managed to maintain relevance within this international fashion conversation — starting off with our very own Lukhanyo Mdingi.

Popularised for his signature design silhouettes and stern commitment towards sustainability and circularity principles; this local designer, and brand, has managed to successfully forge his way into the final of the 2021 LVMH Prize, an astonishing feat for any fashion designer. Mdingi’s most recent creative project, The Premise, is a proposition, one which cultivates community through collaboration and aims to utilise narratives and storytelling, in order to dissect the human experience.

Athi Patra Ruga lensed by Johno Mellish

The Premise comes in the form of a nine-episode podcast, “introducing an articulation of innermost musings, through conversations led by integral beings in the Lukhanyo Mdingi cosmology.” This audio journal is laced with personal anecdotes from Lukhanyo’s circle of friends and collaborators — capturing the raw emotion emanating from this cohort of creatives, as they delve into topics such as Gratitude, Intuition, Intention, and much more.

The first three podcast episodes are out on Spotify, and feature cameos from Athi Patra Ruga, Alice Toich, Shuaib Van Der Schyff, Lindi Mngxitama, Duduza Mchunu, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Anelisa Mangcu, Elizabeth Thebus and Obakeng Motsepe. Simultaneously, The Premise is accompanied by some exceptional film portraits shot by two photographers: Andile Buka and Johno Mellish, and succulent soundscapes incorporating story narration with raspy jazz undertones by Matthew Rightford.

I managed to virtually catch up with Mdingi unpacking his thinking surrounding The Premise, his COUTTS AW21 collection, and much more. 

Anelisa Mangcu lensed by Johno Mellish

The Premise podcast series is an extremely bold and innovative idea — how did its conception come about?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: In the beginning of 2020, one of my closest friends (Elizabeth Thebus) and I decided to do a weekly journal, choosing to engage with topics that are part of the human experience. The idea was that every Sunday, we would FaceTime one another and share personal feelings about Love, Jealousy, Ego, Letting Go, and more… we came up with 52 topics.

It was this, which set the motion of The Premise in progress. There was a certain kind of catharsis that came with it. It became a hybrid of experiencing a sense of vulnerability that was, at times challenging, and at others incredibly simple.

I wanted to bring this to a larger audience, and see if there are nuances within the human experience.

Lindiwe Mngxitama lensed by Andile Buka

Elizabeth Thebus lensed by Johno Mellish

The podcast series is 3 episodes in, touching on concepts such as Gratitude, Intuition and Intention. How has it been, making these episodes?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: It’s been incredible. To be in the presence of those that have used The Premise as a vehicle to speak their truths and musings has been a poignant experience.

I had the opportunity to collaborate with Matthew Rightford on the soundscape, which became a sublime extension to the listening experience. 

The aim was to create a body of work that was honest, sincere and gave listeners the opportunity to reflect, and have a sense of peace in their minds and hearts while engaging with each topic.

The Premise look book features a wide pool of multifaceted creatives — why them?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: All those that have been part of the series have now become an integral part of the Lukhanyo Mdingi cosmology.

We thrive in the spirit of collaboration and our label is carried by the presence of those that have been part of it for the last 7 years.

There was a certain kind of curiosity that I had about some of the speakers, yet, others I knew from my personal relationships with them. I wanted to give room to simply engage with them and let their truths be heard by a larger audience.

All of The Premise musings are draped in your latest COUTTS AW21 collection — what does this collection mean to you?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: This particular collection is the greatest gift and love letter that I have ever given anyone. It’s a dedication to my sweet boy Nicholas Coutts and his whole family.

Shuaib Van Der Schyff lensed by Johno Mellish

Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi lensed by Andile Buka

I understand that there’s a line-up of 9 episodes in total, further touching on themes such as Love, Ego, Fear, and more. Why these themes?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: These are themes that are part of the human experience. I sincerely believe that we have all felt these notions at some point in our lives, I simply wanted to create a vessel to explore these topics with those individuals I respect.

Another fascinating element of The Premise is the photography. I see you’ve worked with multiple photographers to shoot the project — please tell me more about that?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: We wanted to create a visual representation of those that were part of the project, something that lived beyond the audio experience. 

By having each tastemaker in their element — completely themselves — through film a quality was captured needed to enhance the narrative.

Which is your favourite episode of the full series and why?

Lukhanyo Mdingi: I love each and every episode; each one in their own unique and special way bring a visceral sensibility when engaging with them.

Obakeng Motsepe lensed by Johno Mellish

Alice Toich lensed by Johno Mellish

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