Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Photo Diary From an Emotional Trip to Cape Town With Gucci

“I really felt the theme of ‘art and opulence’ was expressed in the shimmer of midnight-blue velvet,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw tells Vogue of the Gucci gown she wore to attend a gala celebrating a new exhibition spotlighting the work of Black artists. When We See Us: A Century Of Black Figuration in Painting has just been unveiled at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town, and the actor naturally selected a look by Gucci – which is sponsoring the exhibition – to wear to co-chair the event over the weekend. 

Gugu’s jewel-toned gown was from the house’s Cosmogonie collection, unveiled in Puglia earlier this year. “I had fun accessorizing with the pearl choker, which felt like a classic nod to the ocean—which the gallery overlooks,” says the star. The diamanté hair jewelry, meanwhile, was chosen as “South Africa is famously home to the world’s greatest diamonds”. 

As well as an opportunity to see the work of such luminaries as Kehinde Wiley (“it was really special to have a private view with the curator, Koyo Kouoh”), the trip was also a chance for Gugu to reconnect with her family in South Africa. “It’s always special to visit South Africa because my Dad was born here and I have family in Johannesburg,” she says. “My uncle passed in 2020, and like many I attended his funeral on Zoom. So it was a really emotional moment to visit his grave and connect with my cousins.”

Gugu made time for a sunrise hike up Table Mountain, and visited the first fully Black-owned winery in South Africa, Klein Goederust in Franschhoek. “Cape Town is a beautiful city, with a very complex history,” the star tells Vogue. “The legacy of Apartheid is still very present in the landscape of the city. Nurturing art and culture is so important for healing these scars. I wanted to support Zeitz MOCAA as a space that can bring people together and especially the exhibition When We See Us, which celebrates the craft and legacy of painting by Black African artists.”

Mbatha-Raw’s highlights from the exhibition include the work of Zandile Tshabalala, a female painter from Soweto. “It has also been fascinating to see some early Kehinde Wiley paintings,” she adds, singling out a piece from 2001 (16 years before he was chosen by Barack Obama to paint his official portrait for the Smithsonian), that “really charts the evolution of his style”. 

See Gugu’s Cape Town diary below. 

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