Joburg Fashion Week Designer Spotlight: SCALO by Sello Medupe

Joburg Fashion Week Designer Spotlight: SCALO by Sello Medupe

Ranji Mangcu

Unabashed by drama and decadence, Johannesburg-based label SCALO by Sello Medupe has brought drama and reverie to Joburg Fashion Week since 2013. Using the feminine form as a foundation for architectural pieces. Leading with precision, distinct approaches to texture and colour, designer Sello Medupe.

SCALO by Sello Medupe presents a love letter to Johannesburg that had found its identity – a distinct blend of constant movement and drama, with an undeniably sophisticated and cosmopolitan character.   


The Unabashed Drama and Decadence of Scalo by Sello Medupe

SCALO by Sello Medupe is arguably a child of the glamorous, romantic aesthetic identity built by the likes of David Tlale, Gavin Rajah and Taibo Bacar. Where they worked to build a forward-looking vision of romance and regality in South African fashion, SCALO by Sello Medupe exemplifies an inheritance of this, in their sophisticated approaches to detail, silhouette, and the great amount of precision that goes into the anatomy of a Scalo piece.  

In our excitement for his Joburg Fashion Week 2023 show, happening on Saturday, 11 NOVEMBER 2023, at 8pm, we have retrospectively catalogued SCALO by Sello Medupe most significant shows:   


After debuting at Joburg Fashion Week in 2013, SCALO by Sello Medupe returned in 2015 with a collection that effortlessly blended professional and glamorous elements, embracing couture drama through architectural silhouettes, lace embroidery, and flouncy ruffles.  

The show began with sharp menswear, showcasing Medupe's tailoring and architectural skills in a striking red double-breasted suit with broad shoulders and meticulous detailing. This set the tone for the event. 

SCALO truly shines in womenswear, with Medupe's mastery of feminine glamour evident in each collection. The show featured tailored column dresses with clean lines and high collars, alongside flowing satin dresses adorned with circular ruffles, providing a beautiful contrast. 


At Joburg Fashion in March 2016, Scalo unveiled a Autumn/Winter collection marked by cool blues and captivating silhouettes, bathed in cool-toned lighting. This collection, primarily black and blue, conveyed a quiet yet powerful strength. Inspired by the journey from darkness to light, it featured rough fabrics blending with a soft palette. 

Medupe's signature style emerged as he opened with structured menswear, transitioning to fantastical gowns. The show began with a striking powder-blue three-piece suit followed by black and deep blue ensembles. The women's section introduced innovative designs, including a knee-length black co-ord with lace embroidery. 

The collection balanced classic structures with lace embroidery, except for a grey and powder-blue tufted coat. The climax featured a royal blue column dress with a grand matching cape, a black gown adorned with 3D flowers, and a strapless royal-blue gown with an angular canopy. These pieces showcased Medupe's design prowess and the brand's ongoing evolution. 


Embracing the Spring/Summer theme, Scalo's Spring/Summer 2016 Joburg Fashion Week collection showcased a disciplined approach, featuring black and white with hints of grey.

This collection explored an imagined "Tribal future" and offered menswear with unique torso details and unconventional dungaree-style garments. The women's line highlighted the signature petal-formation in pure-white skorts, grid-patterned tops, and maxi-skirts.

Grey accents were introduced through a pointillistic pattern on mini and sundresses, while crochet patterns added to the easygoing summer vibe. 


SCALO by Sello Medupe at Joburg Fashion Week

In 2018, Medupe showcased his talent for merging classic and contemporary styles at Joburg Fashion Week. His collection paid tribute to Xhosa traditional attire, introducing bold red, black, and white geometric patterns – a departure from his previous work. While his prior designs had leaned toward a neutral, modern African aesthetic, this collection boldly embraced traditional elements.

Notably, Medupe's women's collection defined the brand's signature with architectural silhouettes, such as high-waisted trumpet pants inspired by Xhosa umbhaco and a sleek gown adorned with a striking red fringe. The climax came with a grand empire-waist gown featuring three-dimensional flowers and geometric lines.

We are expecting a masterclass in African haute couture at the SCALO by Sello Medupe. Tickets for the show are now available. Click here to purchase. 

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