Thebe Magugu gives Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’ an even newer look

The South African designer was handpicked by Dior’s creative director to design a limited-edition capsule collection

By Tayla Sassen
Thebe Magugu Ⓒ Dior

How do you know when you’ve made it big in the fashion industry? It’s a question that may be difficult to answer for most people, but not for Thebe Magugu. Being asked to reinterpret Christian Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’ for a limited-edition capsule collection with Dior must be at the top of the list.

Thebe Magugu X CTAOP Ⓒ Dior

Since bursting onto the scene after the launch of his first collection in 2017, the Kimberly-born designer has awed and inspired with his sleek, forward-looking designs and unique details and motifs that draw from Africa’s past, present and imagined future. It’s no surprise that Magugu was approached by Dior’s creative director herself, Maria Grazia Chiuri, to reimagine the iconic look. This classic ensemble featured a cinched waist, padded hips and a full flared skirt, and was often paired with a wide-brim hat. Though thought quite controversial at the time, this recognisable silhouette is what inspired Magugu in his interpretation of the look.

“Maria Grazia Chirui asked me to use Dior’s iconic ‘New Look’ as a base silhouette, which I interpreted through a variety of key wardrobe staples. The collection features our iconic Sisterhood emblem – prevalent in both Maria Grazia and my work – on a cotton T-shirt, a yellow silk twill scarf, the emblematic Dior Book Tote and more,” says Magugu.

Transforming the classic, cinched bar jacket into an oversized cotton T-shirt reflects the nature of the way women dress now, with comfort as a key staple in the working woman’s wardrobe. Gone is the original full skirt – instead, Magugu created a pleated tulle skirt that adds a little edge to an otherwise modest look. And as for the original wide-brim hat? Magugu replaced it with a staple in the 21st century, a bucket hat – complete with his signature logo ribbons.

Thebe Magugu X CTAOP bucket hat and scarf Ⓒ Dior

“He revisited these items which are now part of my creative alphabet at Dior, adding his own signature,” said Chiuri. “We went from a silhouette with a Bar jacket to a printed T-shirt — an interesting take on this emblematic look, which truly connects both of our approaches.”

This is not the first time Chiuri has admired Magugu’s work. In 2019 she was a judge for the 2019 LVMH Prize, where Magugu piqued her interest and was ultimately named the winner.

Not only is the collection a major accomplishment for Magugu, but it’s also for a good cause. The collaboration supports fellow South African treasure and Dior ambassador, Charlize Theron’s charity, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP).

This collection is available from October 27 for a limited time only at some of the most prestigious Dior boutiques in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles.

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