South African Fashion Week Summer Spring 23 is just around the corner. It will take place at the Mall of Africa from the 20th to the 22nd of April. Mostly known for glamour, details and style on full display, the designers go above and beyond for each runway show, outdoing themselves every season and this year will be nothing short of spectacular. Nounouche speaks to one of the designers who will be showcasing his latest collection, Michael Ludwig Hittinger who is a creative director and founder of Michael Ludwig Studio.
Describing themselves as a contemporary ready to wear brand that disregards the gender binary and focuses on the contrast of masculinity and femininity, Michael Ludwig says he draws inspiration from all over the world but mostly from their gender which cannot be defined within the margins of gender. That is non binary. Although Michael Ludwig doesn’t have a fashion background as a child, they developed their passion for fashion in their matric year and pursued it until graduating from LISOF (now Stadio) with Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design and Buying in 2017. “I have continued to run with a more-is-more mentality which is expressed through our formative lens of Eastern design influences, minimalist approach and multidisciplinary approach for our clothing,” Michael Ludwig said.
If there’s something that has characterized Michael’s tenure at Michael Ludwig Studio is the consistency of his designs. Loyal to the minimalist aesthetics he has crafted since the establishment of his namesake brand, their latest effort is going to be a parade of refined, dramatic and draping detailed looks for their South African Fashion Week Summer Spring 23. “For this collection, we are going for a more toned up and drama fused concept which is called Elysion Ego. The main objective for this abstract concept is exploring acceptance of what exists and what’s nonexistent. We shifted a bit from our go to aesthetic to create more visual displacement— experimenting the intersection of dark and bright sides of being human,” they said.
We tend to imagine fashion designers to have larger than life personas but Michael Ludwig is a very sensitive person and they bring their sensitivity to their work. “I’m always in touch with my emotions. I think the world needs a bit of that. I always show it through my designs, from patterns to colours and all. All of our materials are soundly investigated, we ensure to include playful textures and we can’t wait to unveil this collection,” Michael said.
On Representation And Inclusivity
Fashion inclusivity isn’t only limited to fashion garments. True to their sustainability efforts, Hittinger says they are trying to change the whole narrative of inclusivity and exclusivity. “I’m really glad that the South African Fashion industry has now opened a safe space for these kinds of conversations. For all our runway shows, we always close with a transgender model. Representation and diversity matters to me. 25% of our clients are cis gendered people and we know how to cater for everyone, taking into account how fashion should flow and fit with various body sizes and gender. We pride ourselves in not only being an inclusive brand on the runway but we go beyond that,” the remarkable designer said.
Ludwig said they would love to collaborate locally with The Bam Collective, Issey Miyake and Christian Dior for that classic European luxury look combined with the African full blown touch to it. The brand has been widely recognised by local and international media coverage including in SARIE magazine October 2021, Glamour Fashion Online October 2022, Sarika Collection in New York 2022, True Love Magazine November 2022 and Vogue Portugal Cover 2022. One of the greatest lessons that Michael has learnt in their fashion journey is that, “if you don’t know who you are, you don’t know where you’re going.”
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