South African designer Palesa Mokubung boasts many accolades under her belt, and with each collection she adds a new chapter to her narrative as a visionary in the world of fashion. As the first African designer to collaborate with H&M, Mokubung’s Mantsho label represents the marriage of culture and innovation. At the 2023 edition of Confections x Collections hosted by Twyg at Mount Nelson Hotel, Palesa Mokubung once again captivated high tea guests with her splendid Autumn/Winter ‘24 collection, delving into the richness of her Basotho heritage.
In a world where digital reigns supreme, Mantsho emerges as a vibrant celebration of the tactile, tangible, and undying allure of printed textiles. Breaking away from conventional cuts, Mokubung showcased an array of billowy, flouncy, cinched-in, and rouged silhouettes, each stamped with her iconic graphic prints brought to life through her brother’s creative prowess.
The Free State-born designer’s silhouettes are a dance between tradition and modernity, as exemplified in the effervescent display of garments that make up the latest collection. The flouncy skirts and cinched-in waists and hems accentuate the Mantsho woman’s inherent confidence and femininity, while the designer’s skilful use of rouging adds depth and texture for more expression. These are not just design choices; they are a testament to Mokubung’s commitment to slow fashion, as they are more than seasonal trends made to be worn today and eclipsed by a new one come Autumn/Winter ‘25. Each piece is therefore a carefully curated work of art that aims to subvert the transient nature of fast fashion fads.
Palesa Mokubung not only designs for women; she mirrors them in every stitch. And the Mantsho woman understands this. “She builds walls, she breaks walls down. [This is why] Mantsho pieces have heart,” Mokubung reflects, offering a glimpse into the emotional resonance embedded in each creation. This sentiment lies at the core of her design process, as she contemplates the needs and aspirations of the Mantsho woman. “At the centre of my design process, I think: what does the Mantsho woman need? What does the coat [she invested in] from the AW22 collection need? What can she pair it with now? What countries is she travelling to?”
It’s therefore evident that Mokubung’s thoughtfulness extends beyond aesthetics – she moves with the woman she envisions and the life this persona lives. “I move with her – she inspires me,” she says, revealing a symbiotic relationship between designer and muse. In this dynamic interplay, Mantsho attempts to go beyond creating merely for luxury’s sake; but to become a living, breathing testament to the powerful and inspiring woman the label adorns.
In the hands of Palesa Mokubung and her team, Mantsho garments are eloquent storytellers of heritage, love, and artistic collaboration. From the poignant name bestowed by her late grandmother to the vibrant graphic designs crafted by her brother, each element speaks to the community.
In A/W24 (and beyond) fashion enthusiasts witness a living testament to the enduring beauty found in preserving culture, the artistry of familial collaboration, and the timeless appeal of fashion with a narrative. In a sartorial climate where many are slowly but surely interrogating their approach to fashion consumption, Palesa Mokubung’s Mantsho positions itself as a label boasting cherished heirlooms that span generations, giving the age-old cycle of hand-me-downs an aspirational spin.