If he’s not jet-setting to destinations on your bucket list, he’s between Jo’burg and Cape Town living his best life, working and making it all look as fashionable as ever. In September, Rich Mnisi bagged the Essence Emerging Designer of the Year award. He’s dressed Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell, Bonang Matheba and virtually every style influencer worth a mention on Instagram. As a multifaceted creator, his tastemaking goes beyond creating gorgeous garments to styling, providing creative direction on cover shoots and lookbooks and more recently, his second installation of collectable furniture from Southern Guild Gallery. Who better to tell us how to make the most of the season than an icon who seems to celebrate life with as much vigour as his audience celebrates his work?
Jabulani Dlamini-Qwesha: What are five statement fashion pieces one shouldn’t go without during the festive season?
Rich Mnisi: I don’t necessarily believe in the idea of trends and key pieces, because I think they take away from the idea of style, so I’m all about winging it based on how I feel. But if you are a person who does need a starting point for expressing your style, you can never go wrong with a pants suit, a sequined dress, a Crystal Birch hat (wide brim with feathers) and anything by Rich Mnisi. In fact, local fashion in general; most South African designers are really in touch with trends, what’s happening around them and what South Africans enjoy wearing.
JDQ: What is your strategy for packing when you travel?
RM: First of all, I’m the last person to answer this because I’ve been known to pack 23kg luggage for a week-long trip. But what has helped when I’ve considered my limitations is planning two looks per day and packing those pieces, instead of just taking everything and figuring it out as I go.
JDQ: What is one look that can take you from day to night?
RM: Wearing either a jumpsuit or a pantsuit; all you need to update are the accessories and you’re good to go to any function.
JDQ: Without ruining any surprises for anyone, what are the gifts you’re choosing to give loved ones this year?
RM: A lot of bags, kettles and alcohol, and I’m getting books for my nieces and nephews. Just a lot of functional things.
JDQ: Top places to hang out and get the best of the festive spirit in Jo’burg and Cape Town?
RM: My party, 2 Million Icons. It’s the main thing people should look forward to in December.
JDQ: Day parties or night time vibes?
RM: Night-time parties: I don’t like drinking in the sun, it makes my skin feel strange.
JDQ: Any tips for keeping to a healthy lifestyle and avoiding fatigue over the party season?
RM: Drink lots of water, take multivitamin supplements and get as much sleep and rest as you can between the festivities.