Behind the seams of ‘How To Ruin Christmas: The Funeral’

Thango Ntwasa Journalist
Yonda Thomas and Busisiwe Lurayi in 'How to Ruin Christmas: The Funeral'.
Yonda Thomas and Busisiwe Lurayi in 'How to Ruin Christmas: The Funeral'.
Image: Mosa Hlophe/Netflix

When the first season of How To Ruin Christmas was filmed last year, the cast and crew were constantly cautious of preventing Covid-19 cases. While the heavy burden and dark times of masks, social distancing and death lurking around the corner was well avoided in the script, grief takes centre stage in the sequel themed The Funeral.

The series follows the second Christmas celebrated by the Sello and Twala families, which sees them deal with the death of the latter family’s matriarch.

While the cast is still as effervescent as before, award-winning costume designer Sheli Mokoena and her team were tasked with bringing them to life through their distinct outfits.

We chatted to Mokoena about the style evolutions of the characters and the families, and how the show took on a colourful approach to getting dressed for a funeral.

The show features a heavier subject matter this season. How did you approach dressing the characters?

What you would normally do is go black for a funeral but we didn’t want to do that. We didn’t want a dull Christmas, because Gogo (Nandi Nyembe) was full of life.

Gogo’s last look seemed similar to Tumi’s (Busisiwe Lurayi) fashion. Was that intentional in portraying their wild night out before she passed away?

I enjoyed making those choices for Gogo because she is from Umlazi. She is very streetwise, which explains why she is connected to the gangster. She is one of those ladies who would shop in Bangkok and hook people up with the latest styles. She never lost that streetwise vibe and love for brands. 

She even wears a Gucci hat, and who cares if it is real or fake because under that she has on a YSL scarf with a blinged-up tracksuit. We wanted her to go down in style. Gogo wanted to go out with a bang so we gave her a big exit.

Beauty (Thando Thabethe) is finally out of wedding dresses. Describe bringing her personal style to life?

Beauty’s character is like a princess. She is Miss Perfect. To highlight that in her everyday look she dresses very prim and proper, unlike her sister Tumi, who grabs something from her cupboard and it falls into place.

Beauty is very mindful of what she picks on that day, what colours she is going to wear, and what impression she wants to make. 

The families are no longer dressing up for a wedding, so did you look to recreate the co-ordination in their outfits?

Definitely. Dineo (Clementine Mosimane) is our shweshwe lady and she wears it elegantly no matter what she’s doing or where she’s going. It’s never dressed down and she will often turn it up a bit for an event she’s going to, so she expects the same of her family members because they are always on point with how they dress and present themselves. 

Even though she has her own style, Grace (Rami Chuene) knows not to give less than what is expected of her from Dineo. Even in the scene where Dineo is scolding her when she wears a jumpsuit before they leave for KwaZulu-Natal, but as soon as she leaves the vehicle on arrival we see she has changed into a pretty dress that also has African prints.

I love how realistic that was, because women tend to change their style when visiting families for such occasions, including Valencia.

Yes, because they know that is what is expected. Valencia knows she married into a Zulu family and needs to cover her arms and her head. 

She is grown and mature enough not to rebel against those expectations.

Everyone seemed to reference their wedding looks at the funeral. Was this intentional and what inspired the looks for that scene?

Gogo wanted to be celebrated and that’s what they did. We wanted whoever fell in love with their favourite characters not to be swayed away from them.

Even with Tumi’s jacket she wore in season 1, she wears it at the funeral because she had those pieces, including her boots. She’s like a collector. She doesn’t dress to impress. She doesn’t really care what people think because she dresses for herself. She will repeat outfits, unlike Beauty who will never want to be seen in the same thing.

Speaking of personal style, Lydia (Swankie Mafoko) made a lot of growth this season. 

Yes, in season 1 she wanted to impress Valencia (Charmaine Mtinta) so much that she started dressing like Valencia. She wanted to be a mini-Valencia. In season 2 she wants to change from that and be free of Valencia. She goes back to who she really was before Valencia or her husband Themba came into her life.

Khaya also started to dress more glamorously this season. What inspired that?

He has been in a relationship with Tumi for a while and we women start shopping for our men. We wanted to show that Tumi was picking out those suits he was wearing and how to put them together.

It’s hardly safe to be outside these days and the series has a beautiful message about appreciating life. What do you think people can take from the show in terms of dressing up during these times? 

All our characters were screaming “just do you”. It’s about not caring about what anyone is going to say and just celebrating yourself. We are at a point where we don’t know what the future holds for us, so it’s important to know we live for today. 


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.