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Excelsior Lusso speaks to African luxury

Fashion designer Ma’lakai Maphalala gets some of his fashion inspiration from African architectural history

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Fashion designer and creative director of Excelsior Lusso Ma’lakai Maphalala talks about his journey in the fashion industry.
Fashion designer and creative director of Excelsior Lusso Ma’lakai Maphalala talks about his journey in the fashion industry.
Image: Supplied.

Eclectic, elegant and sophisticated are some of the words to best describe the tailored creations by fashion designer Ma’lakai Maphalala, creative director of Excelsior Lusso.  

Born and bred in Johannesburg, Maphalala believes that his brand captures African luxury.

How did you get into fashion?

I started out as a fine artist and I then fell in love with digital art, which led me to graphic design. After two years, I got bored of graphic designing so I thought I should design something that is more tangible, so the only way to escape that is through fashion.

I then started making garments that are fashionable and trendy from its look and feel. 

Where does your brand name Excelsior Lusso come from? 

The name is inspired by a story of a black miner who found a diamond in the Free State. He took the diamond and gave it to the chief who then sold it. It was cut into 21 pieces that were distributed and sold to various parts of the world. 

I resonated with the story so much that I took the name Excelsior as an inspiration because I believe our brand speaks to African luxury. We believe our brand is exclusive and worthy just like a rare diamond. Lusso in Latin means luxury, which I believe we ooze. 

How has your journey been so far in the fashion industry?

I'm a creative designer more than just a fashion designer, I love designing functional pieces from furniture to cutlery and jewellery. Now that I’m in the fashion designing space, I get to explore with different kind of materials unlike other disciplines. 

So, my journey has been quite exciting but because I am client-driven, that usually takes most of my time to a point where I hardly can attend events but I always am happy when I see how happy my clients are when they’re satisfied with the garments I make for them. 

What’s your favourite piece on the rack and why?

It has to be a leather and sequins jacket that came to my thoughts while I was driving one morning to work. I just thought I should create something simple yet functional with a twist for our autumn collection. 

It’s such an interesting piece – it changes from tan to gold with just a stroke of the hand. I truly enjoyed playing with the concept.

What inspires your fashion sense or designs? 

Architecture, African textures and history as well the motion of how things flair. It’s the different seasons and psychology of people and how they go about things and my team contribute to my inspiration. 

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