Designer Dialogues: Nandi Mngoma

Nandi Mngoma portrait

Nothing short of a cosmic beauty, style stunner and rising star Nandi Mngoma, whose career began as a South African triple threat, is quickly morphing into a red carpet royalty status fashion designer. The global glam virtuoso virtually broke the Internet with her jaw-dropping gown worn at this year’s BET Awards. The tribal-meets-couture collectible she wore served as a preview of what promises to be the legendary launch of her international clothing line.

Nandi Mngoma BET Awards Dress

Nandi gave us an in-depth peek into the brand, which is set to launch next week online. Here’s what she had to share:

The Lady Loves Couture: So much cosmopolitan life exists in South Africa: Shed light for us on the world of fashion and its nuances there, as opposed to other cities you’ve traveled to?

Nandi Mngoma: You’re absolutely correct! South Africa is a cosmopolitan country and that is mainly because of our rich history as a nation. As South Africans and Africans, we pride ourselves on celebrating our different cultures, as well as living in a modern world. In our country you can easily find a highly educated accountant rocking a suit with a Zulu beaded necklace, which is why I absolutely love my country. Incorporating your heritage has become a lifestyle.

South African Inspired Style

TLLC: What’s the hottest trend at home that fashionistas everywhere should be following?

NM: There are these amazing, intricately beaded wigs that are almost Egyptian-inspired which are absolutely exquisite. One feels like an Egyptian queen when you rock it! We’re actually using them in our collection for Africa Fashion International on August 10, which will be accessible for the rest of the world to watch via live streaming on my website

Egyptian-inspired Style

TLLC: What excites you most about this season’s trends?

NM: What excites me most about this season’s trends is the fact that people are unapologetically embracing who they are. I look at a young lady like Willow Smith who chooses to be daring and different, or Beyonce who embraces her history as an African-American and her roots as a country girl.

Willow Smith and Beyonce

TLLC: What is your favorite outfit or piece, and why do you love to wear it?

NM: I have a timeless, beautiful Zulu hand-beaded necklace that my mother gave to me as a gift. I love it because it reminds me of my culture, but more so because it’s so unique and becomes a talking point with anything I wear. It’s a gorgeous statement piece.

Zulu hand-beaded necklace

TLLC: What style icons that you follow do we need to watch, both in the states and in South Africa as well?

NM: In the states I absolutely love Rihanna, Olivier Palermo, Victoria Beckham, and Bianca Jagger. From my country, South Africa, Noni Gasa and designer Nkhensani Nkhosi of Stoned Cherrie.

Celebrities in South African Style

TLLC: Any designers that inspire you? If so, who and why?

NM: Carolina Herrera: For me, she and her brand represent pure class and elegance. Carolina, as a person, has also inspired me that no matter how old you get, you can still invest in looking good! And boy does she look good in her designs!

Oscar de la Renta: I loved how he would play with tropical colors, and celebrate women of color and what would compliment their aesthetic, as well as the rest of the world.

Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Ozwald Boateng

Ozwald Boateng: I love how he has managed to celebrate African excellence in his clothing and represented African clothes in a suave, regal manner with a modern twist all over the world. We’re a continent that had and has Kings, Queens, and Pharaohs, so our clothing aesthetics need to reflect that.

TLLC: Share with us your personal philosophy regarding style? How do accessories play a part in the equation?

NM: My favorite quote is, “who was she? And what did she do? She was herself and she did it all.” For me, it is paramount that style is about self discovery and being willing to try new things out whilst enjoying the process of finding items you love. Style tells a story of who a person is and where they are in their life, and for me, accessories complete this story.

South African Style

TLLC: The dress your wore at the BET Awards landed you at the top of everyone’s best dressed list (including ours). The moment you saw yourself, did you have a feeling it was going to be a sensation? How has life changed for you since then?

NM: My life had already changed as I was made the new correspondent for BET, and being able to represent my continent is fantastic. I know the gown from my clothing line “Colour” was beautiful and unique, but I was honestly surprised and humbled by the enormous reception I received for the gown; It was a riveting experience getting so much attention for how I looked on the red carpet. My life has changed especially in terms of “Colour” in a way I cannot explain; I know I have a huge demand from clients from all over the world for items from my Colour Collection, and as a TV host, I have received plenty of opportunities to be a part of amazing projects, which is the reason I’ll be based mainly in Los Angeles. I’m extremely excited.

Nandi Mngoma

TLLC: Tell us how your passion for fashion began. What is the inspiration behind your new clothing line Colour?

NM: It all began with my beautiful mother, as it does with most people. To this day, my mother is the most beautiful and stylish woman I know, so growing up I was always inspired by her timeless, elegant style. I also feel that the continent inspires me and the world. In fact, “Colour” is highly influenced by the diversity and aesthetics of the continent. Africa is rich in its natural beauty.

TLLC: When, where, and how will we be able to get our hands on Colour?

NM: My site will be going live on the August 10, where one will be able to place an order on my site and click on the Colour option. We will be offering worldwide shipping on any garments that a customer wants to purchase. All of the details will be on the site when we launch Colour officially, and we will be streaming live across the globe for our very first fashion show on the very same day at Africa Fashion Week 2016. [For more details, click here.]

Africa Fashion Week 2016
TLLC: Which celebrities would you like to see in your designs?

NM: Beyonce, Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Anna Wintour, Michelle Obama, Oprah, Lupita Nyongo, Alicia Keys, and Mrs. Marjorie Harvey, off course!

TLLC: What do you want the world to know about Nandi?

NM: I want the world to know that there is nothing more spectacular than embracing diversity. There is a reason why we are so cosmopolitan and it is something that should be celebrated, not attacked. I would also like the world to know my name as I hope to leave a meaningful legacy as having changed the world for the better through my craft as an entertainer and designer because, “nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”

Nandi Mngoma in Tribal Dress