By: Jane Mayne, Editor of www.weekendspecial.co.za
Innovator Rich Mnisi knows just how to turn heads. The maverick fashion designer’s eye-catching creations keep pushing boundaries, making manifest exquisite collections that range from the quirky to the elegant and wildly imaginative.
Rich’s striking use of line and colour exudes a positivity that resonates far and wide. “The biggest thing for me when creating a piece of art is for it to generate a conversation – be it a conversation you have with yourself, with the work itself, or with others around you. A piece may even trigger personal thoughts around the themes explored to create it, as well as ideas around the specific colours, shapes and patterns used. Ultimately, I want
to uplift, delight and intrigue people with beautiful pieces – but at the same time also challenge them to think more deeply about what they’re viewing,” he says.
Spearheading his popular Rich Mnisi label, this young entrepreneurs’ pieces are snapped up by celebs and trendy fashionistas alike. His brand has been bolstered by accolades such as Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa 2014); Emerging Designer of the Year in New York (Essence Best in Black Fashion awards 2019), and an inclusion in the 2019 Forbes #30under30 list.
In an extension to his eye-popping collections, Rich has turned his hand to collectable furniture design. A collaboration with Southern Guild at the Silo District in Cape Town sees his first solo exhibition, titled Nyoka (Snake), on show from 2 October 2021 to 4 February 2022.
FORM, FLOW, MOVEMENT
The exploration is brought to life using materials such as bronze, wool, resin and glass. Did these facilitate a different kind of expression compared to the conventional fabrics he works with? “Texture, pattern and movement have always been key features in my fashion designs, and this can be seen in my choice of fabrics. When it came to the Nyoka collection, form, flow and movement were at the front of my mind – all elements epitomised by the snake. So, with this inspiration to draw on, as well as various others representing flow, when it came to choosing materials it was important to select ones that would help convey this. For example, for a console, we wanted to capture that sense of movement of the xibelani skirt, and beading seemed like the best form of artistry to relay that feeling and flow.”