Sindiso Khumalo, a South African designer, made her première at Milan Fashion Week with an extraordinary collection based on Harriet Tubman, an American abolitionist and political activist.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, everything has moved to digital, so the designer’s namesake label was presented through a fashion film. The new collection is all about honoring the life of the abolitionist Tubman, who is famous for freeing 70 enslaved people in her times, post her freedom in Philadelphia.
The film is based in farmland depicting Tubman’s childhood scenarios. Khumalo names the collection as “Minty” as it’s Tubman’s childhood nickname and the feature illustrations are done by Shakil Solanki, a Cape Town artist, who tailored styles in handwoven cotton and hand-printed silk taffeta. The designer has her workshop in Burkina Faso and also operates with the NGO called Embrace Digity to employ women who were earlier sex workers.
The designer has earlier won this year’s LVMH Prize along with London-based Priya Ahluwalia to share the cash prize $352k jointly. The life of a historical black woman has always inspired Khumalo’s collections.
Her past collection showcased the Egbado princess Sarah Forbes Bonetta, she as a child was held as a prisoner of war and gave many years in the British Royal house supporting Queen Victoria. The next upcoming collection is going to be inspired by the South African activist Charlotte Maxeke.
Sindiso Khumalo has studied architecture at the University of Cape Town. Then while working in London under architect David Adjaye, she also completed her masters in textiles at Central Saint Martins. She then planned to return to South Africa and build her own label.
“As a Black woman I want to make sure that we’re also part of history,” Khumalo stated in a video call with CNN. “Harriet Tubman was my height — she was tiny — and freed 70 slaves. I want my kids to know that there were superheroes who were Black and female and petite.”