Gaschette’s speaks to Rorisang Lu about her cover story for Gaschette Magazine and the inspiration behind her internationally recognised work
Rorisang Ludo Ndlovu is the mind behind Rorisang Lu, a multi-disciplinary creative hub. Rorisang specialises in photography, graphic design, film, styling, pattern making, makeup, creative direction and model portfolio development.
Tell us about your life – where you were born, how you ended up working in the creative industry.
My name is Rorisang Ludo Ndlovu. I was born in the capital of Botswana called Gaborone, but I grew up in a small mining town called Selebi Phikwe, in the Northeast of the Country. I attended primary school there and from the single-digit age days I aspired to be a fashion designer and enrolled in fashion studies after finishing secondary school back in the capital. It has always been a priority.
Did you study and if so where? What was the best thing you took out of it?
I did a cultural exchange with Rotary International in Argentina. I loved it and researched and found a small fashion academy in Buenos Aires. I enrolled for pattern making and design and it has been one of the best experiences. I also did a short course in Fashion Business at IED in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. To this day I use most methods and techniques I learnt from school and it taught me and introduced me to the other aspects of art and fashion as in Photography, fine art and especially digital art.
Did you have a mentor and if so who?
I never really had a designated mentor, but I learn from other artists, environment and business people and that cross my path and journey. Young and Old.
Tell us more about your fashion labels
My oldest fashion label established in 2016 is called Rorisang Lu, a womenswear line that has slowly expanded into a creative brand, not solely clothing. It is a multi-disciplinary in reference to photography, graphic design, film, styling, pattern making, makeup, creative direction and model portfolio development. The content is 100% created by me from the brainstorming, creative direction, model scouting to the clothing made, styling to the photography and postproduction. Rorisang Lu is centred on the modern-day African female in luxury in their respective environment and her connection with her natural self and higher spiritual self. Using themes of mysticism and spirituality. This brand also inspired my other brands. Kudakwashe is a menswear brand, centred on the modern African male. My 3rd brand is called Artepreneur Atelier, which is an African artist and business directory inspired by the artists I meet and collaborate with.
What is the fashion industry like in Botswana compared to other countries?
The fashion industry in Botswana is quite close to non-existent. There are no associations, no unions or huge platforms. Most artists just do the best they can and use other resources like social media and the Internet, but beyond that, there are no fashion weeks or designated stores for local designers to sell. No large-scale manufacturing. There’s also poor media coverage. It is quite difficult for artists to expand and grow within their own borders. We are far from the standards of the major fashion cities, but I do believe the complex environment really birthed some rare gems.
What is it like to be a creative in Botswana? How do you feel Botswana feels about creativity and treats the creative industry in general?
In Botswana creativity is viewed not much of a priority, but there has been some effort in trying to empower young local artists as the country tries to diversify their economy. Unemployment is high so it is not just artists struggling. Botswana, in general, does not yield a great purchase power when it comes to art and fashion, which contributes to issues of stifled growth.
How does Botswana inspire you?
Botswana is quite unique as we are only 2 million and practically part desert and part game reserve. I love the slow-paced nature, which helps me create with patience and attention. Everything is more natural than fake from landscapes to how people speak right down to the food. It is raw, not shiny. I live between farms and a small village so I hear more birds chirping than people’s voices. Open blue skies and fresh dry air always motivates to create as I translate the authenticity of my environment in my work.
Is there a market for designer clothes in Botswana?
Botswana has a lot of young entrepreneurs and has truly helped change and define platforms for creatives such as grants, funds, workshops, expos, online stores and pop up markets. This has changed how artists connect with customers and potential clients. It’s still very small but it is there.
What is Africa’s future in the fashion world?
Africa will be the epicentre of fashion and credited accordingly. Each country is so different. Africa offers infinite creativity, infinite timeless content. Africans and the art they create doesn’t expire. The cultures, tribes and their traditions don’t allow it.
What inspires you?
Mysticism, spirit, ancient knowledge, enchantments, divinity, mostly things the eyes can’t really see. I try to add elements people rarely cross by, but also inspired by elegance and simplicity as such themes give me freedom in experimenting with image creation or film. It’s important to make what you do purposeful. I would love for people in 2090 to still keep consuming and referencing my images like how we do with old fashion images of certain decades and eras. The vintage of the future.
The images are amazing, take us through your process.
I have my own database of muses and models I scouted through my own events, workshops, online and at shopping malls. Depending on the muse selected I create and build a certain story about them i.e. a Snow queen, a Charwoman or it can be a high fashion businesswoman or a tribe girl depending on the essence the muse exudes. I use resources that I find in my home to create props and set design. I photograph the images in my home. I always organize elements of the shoot days or a week before and use clothing I made and designed myself for the shoot. Sometimes I use non-conventional materials like foam and or hair braid extensions. I create snow from rubbing styrofoam, or turn telescopes to heavy artillery. I shoot on white backdrops and clear spaces for better editing conditions. The styling of the muse is my favourite part as the vision of the fictional character is coming to life as designed. The session with the muse is to capture maximum perspectives of the character. Editing is also a favourite part of the process as it further helps extend and impact the story. I use simple online editing tools and depending on the image it can take either 3 minutes or an hour to edit 1 image. I publish and distribute most of my work online, as it is the best place to share and grow beyond borders.
Who would you love to work with (alive or dead)?
Honestly so hard to pick as I have a long list, but my top 5 still alive and thriving would be IAMDDB, Sevdaliza, Rosalia, Naomi Campbell and Rihanna. Couldn’t cut it to 1. There are artists that are amazing and I love how they execute their visions.