MZONDI LUNGU on Her New Lingerie Collab and the Importance of Mentoring

Triumph, known in South Africa as “The Maker of Lingerie” since 1886, launches stateside this week via a new e-commerce platform and the heritage brand is taking its role of supporting women quite literally. During London Fashion Week, Triumph collaborated with designer MZONDI LUNGU as part its “Supporting Women in Making” campaign in which 269 creative females (like jewelry designer Hayley Kruger and milliner Kate Braithwaite) compete for a £10,000 scholarship. We caught up with Illinic after her fluorescent wonderland spring show to chat about the perfect underpinnings Triumph supplied and what she’s most looking forward to about mentoring the winner.

What drew you to working with Triumph this season?
Being a woman and designing from a woman’s perspective, I always appreciated other women who helped me along the way. Although I don’t think anything should be done according to gender and that things should be equal, at the same time I think that woman do need some sort of support—because they are not necessarily just working and starting up their businesses but they are also mothers and expected to have different roles by nature.  So when Triumph approached me I thought it was such a wonderful idea. And it gives me the chance to help someone else the same way other woman in the past have helped me by mentoring them and passing on my own experience.
As part of the collaboration, Triumph supplied lingerie for your runway show. For you as a designer, how do you see the role of underpinnings?
Well obviously lingerie was always important, but I think in recent years it became even more important because often it’s seen—the dress is see through in a way that reveals the lingerie and then obviously the lingerie needs to be really special.  Or it’s the completely opposite approach were lingerie shouldn’t be seen. And Triumph actually has this great range called Body Make Up, which completely conceals everything and makes it look like you don’t have on any lingerie at all. So one or the other, having something really exquisite or having something that almost disappears.

Which pieces did you pick?
Well with this particular collection it was a mix of bright and pastel colors like pale yellow or ivory or whites so you had to be very particular about which lingerie was underneath. I actually needed the Body Make Up range because it kind of blends with the skin and you can’t tell that the girls are actually wearing anything underneath. The bras and knickers just conceal any lines and make everything perfect.
What are you most looking forward to about mentoring the winner?
There are more than 250 applicants so it’s going to be a little bit of a landing process to narrow everything to ten finalists and then we will choose one winner that will receive financial support and mentoring from all four members of the panel . And we all come from a completely different background and completely different things that we do and our careers are all different. So whoever wins will have quite a diverse mentorship coming from different points of views and experiences which I think is great.
And the applicants can be from design or different things as well?
Yes, many different things—mainly they were creative in terms of making hats or jewelry or furniture, or bags. Really different disciplines.
Who are the women who inspired you?
There are quite a few! I don’t know where to start. Well, I can probably start with my my mother who was absolutely a great inspiration. And then coming here to London, people like my tutor at Central Saint Martens, Browns—they were the first big store that believed in me and bought my stuff when I was at the very beginning of my collection and used to only have one stockist before them.
And what is it that you would hope to tell whoever is the winner of the Triumph award? What kind of advice would you offer?
Well I would probably say that they need to follow their heart. I always say this because I believe the passion inside of you needs to come through your clothing and people need to feel it just the same way you are feeling it in your body. But also not to follow any rules, and at the end of the day not to follow many advices. I think the rules are there to be broken and that it’s important to make something that is truly unique no matter what you are doing.

The Winner of the Triumph “Supporting Women in Making” competition and nine finalists will be announced on Tuesday, November 12.

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