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Zee Fashionista: A modern day Da Vinci


A modern day Da Vinci

Imagine the grandeur of the royal monarchy’s art collections. The redbrick towers and colourful onion domes of Russia’s St Basil’s Cathedral. The immaculate gardens of the Château de Versailles or the palatial furnishings of Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon. Fast forward to the minimalist architecture showcased in Dezeen design magazine.

This is where Lesedi Lesalaisa’s love of art, fashion, architecture and design comes from.

With the imminent release of his fashion capsule project, Paris to Rome, I discuss with him his life and times.

ZM: How would you describe yourself in a paragraph?

LL: Is that all? Lol...kidding. I would describe myself as an obsessive student...of everything that intrigues me. It can be the most outlandish thing ever...like porn or nude art (depending on which context it is in) or all sorts of art from music, to painting to clothes, to the rubric cube. I obsess about everything I love because then I get so lost in it that I end up surpassing all expectations. Since I am student, I really want to learn more than I know...Which ends up to me realising that the more you learn the more realise that you knew so little.

ZM: Is there something about yourself that people might not readily know?

LL: I don’t care about money and I suffer from Napoleon Syndrome. Money to me is nothing more than a means to happiness. Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness really didn’t know how to shop. Money means nothing if it can’t bring you happiness. You know how happy you become after you have purchased your favourite car - whether it’s a Bugatti, Maybach or just whatever it is you have been dying to get?

Yeah, that’s the happiness I believe money allows you get. It is not about the materialistic sense but the attachment the item means to you. I want to reach a position where I can wake up every morning and be excited of wearing my clothes, seeing the artwork on my wall, hopping into my car and the like.

      *The Napoleon Syndrome is being aware that you have flaws somewhere and then overcompensating for those flaws elsewhere.

ZM: Where did you grow up and how would describe how you were as a youth?

LL: Physically, I grew up in Soweto, Leondale, Magaliesburg and just a plethora of places but mentally, I was all over the world. I would watch Russian movies and not understand a single word of what was being said but I liked the blonde Russian girls that dress up in military wear and speak with a heavy Russian accent. Lol. That for me was cool. My youth is pretty much still happening, so I am passionate, obsessive and craving to prove my worth to the world, but more to myself.

ZM: Growing up, who was your role model?

LL: I have various role models for different aspects in my life. Generally, though I have three - Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Leonardo Da Vinci (Leo because he excelled at so many different areas in his life art and science).

ZM: Did you have specific goals as a youth and how did you go about achieving them? 

LL: Yeah, of course I did. I wanted to be the best dressed in the class. I wanted to own a gold and pink gold watch and I really wanted to be an overall dope person. I have achieved part that list through hard work, passion and obsessively dreaming about my goals until I couldn’t tell what a dream was and what was real. I have more goals that I want to reach, so I guess I am going to be tormented by these dreams late at night.

"I would watch Stars Wars not much for the plot but the gold metal outfits the robots had. The staff at Wallpaper Magazine, XXL Mag, not forgetting Hypebeast and Selectism really had a role to play in fine tuning my love for art, fashion, design and architecture. Oh and the of course there was the over-the-top aesthetic of the monarchs.

The Russian Czars, French Emperors and Royal Monarchs really had me going crazy for the art and design they had. I mean, if you look at the Chateaux de Versailles or Hotel de Crilion you see that they didn’t play games. It was either we do the best or we don’t do it at all!"

ZM: About your studies, what made you decide to study Marketing and what do plan on doing with the qualification?

LL: The decision to study marketing...came from looking at the dopest artists complain about how the “execs” were dictating to them how to create and market their work.
Like (insert Cockney accent here), “We want you to make music for the kids, something that will get the kids dancing that we can make into a ringtone." So if I know how to market real rap music or any art that I create then I am going to make art that people like and that people will buy. I don’t want to be another broke artist that had world tours but nothing to show for it.

ZM: What are your career goals and how do you plan on achieving them?

LL: I want to create art that is artistically credible - like art critic credible but still make a shit load of money from it - a balance between art and commercial success. I think it's the hardest thing to achieve. I want to make music that you can really feel after years of listening to it and have you buy three version of it (action word being BUY, not copy). I plan to reach all of these goals by surrounding myself with people that don’t take shit when it comes to art... Like true experts that only deal with the best. Picky, intelligent and very passionate people and then work them. The only way I am going to be the best musician is by learning from the best, best way to direct visual presentation? Learn from the best. Same with clothes, I am going to observe from the legends and then create better than them.

ZM: Tell me more about Paris to Rome. Where did the idea for the whole concept come from?

 LL: Paris to Rome... (Long pause) it’s where my mind set is at right now. I want to create a capsule project, both audio and visual that represents my taste level right now. I am rapper that is inspired by French monarch lifestyles and how simple, yet super dope the Italians live. Another thing is if you want to make the best product ever...you have to convince the O.Gs of the game with your product. Only then can you say, you have reached the starting line of the race. So Paris to Rome is like a warm up to the greatness that I am going to achieve. I am going to be the best thing since sliced cheese... on toast.

The idea came from knowing that the French are extremely high snob about their art and only deal with the best and the Italians pay so much attention to detail that you wonder if it’s not crazy. So if we can make music that is super perfect right down the opening and closing chords, then we can compete globally and against legends like Madonna, Prince, Michael and Beethoven. Visually, can we make album covers, videos, and posters that are worthy of showing at the Louvre, Uffizi and MoCa? Yes, we can. (Excuse me, Obama).

AfterDef Museum
ZM: You interned for Louis Vuitton. How did you go about getting the internship?

LL: I spent a good year preparing for working at Louis Vuitton... Like, getting acquainted about the house. I would read every single thing that had Louis Vuitton on it. I would spend hours on end getting ingrained in the culture of the company. After I was super soaked in it, I spent 8 months bugging the manager at the Johannesburg store. I would rock up there every three weeks and just offer myself -like “yo, do you got an opening somewhere” and then I would impress him with the all the knowledge I had about the company. It got to a point where he was like, "I don’t have anything solid but we can give you an interview and see where we move from there." Then I just killed the interview and the rest is history!

ZM: What do you think sets you apart from others and do have any advice to offer people aspiring to be in the fashion industry?

LL: What sets apart from others is that I am a juxtaposition of art. A perfectionist, but more importantly, my aesthetic sharpness. It all boils down to aesthetic sharpness. Everything you do relies on your aesthetics, tastes and at which level it is all at. If you have high taste level, then you won’t want to create shabby work or buy a crap looking couch or really ugly house. You want the best and finest of items and experiences for yourself. I want a red Ferrari 458, a white ostrich leathers couch, fish skin shoes, a fox fur coat and a house that looks like a museum (super white walls and wooden floors).

So I have to make the best music and videos ever, so that they are played over, and over, and over again. Otherwise, we are just going to end being broke artists that really didn’t have any impact on society or history. I really couldn’t care about making music just to sleep with girls or for campus kids to be like, “yeah, he cool”. I want your grandmother, you and your girls to watch my videos and be like, “yoooo let’s watch it again” or to come to my concerts and be like, “what an experience”.

Advice? Please make clothes that people will love forever and will keep forever and ever because then that’s how you remain in the minds and heart of people - typical example? Yves Saint Laurent and Versaaaayyyyyceeeee (Versace) lol.

ZM: Where do you see yourself in your career and life in 5 years?

LL: In five years, I am going to sitting on a chartered yacht, looking for a beach house like George Clooney’s Lake Como crib. Career wise, I am going to be a renaissance artist... a modern day Da Vinci. Rapper, furniture designer, clothing creator (not fashion designer, I dislike fashion) and creative director of everything that interests me.

SIDEBAR: Sorry, Pharrell but I am going to better than you, I HAVE to beat you and Kanye.

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