Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) wrapped up last week. A modest event, by global standards, most Sydney-siders outside of those in the fashion industry would have been totally unaware that there was a major fashion event happening in their city. As far as the fashion is concerned, MBFWA is pretty much all about the women, although menswear does get a guernsey, with a handful of looks interspersed on the catwalk amongst the lithe and long-legged beauties donning “resort-wear.”
But as far as Philippe Perzi Vienna was concerned, it wasn’t so much about ‘what-women-wore’ that was of interest. And not so much about what was happening ‘on’ the runway as ‘off’ of it…
Attending several fashion shows as guests of the designers, some of the most exotic and sartorially shrewd gentlemen glided into town almost anonymously…but once they hit the streets, it was hard to ignore their presence. Palmer Mutandwa and Marvin Holder – better known as The Button Brothers, and Badara Ndiaye – better known as Mr 6″11 to his 77,000 Instagram followers, were in Sydney for the week and we were lucky enough to catch up with them for a quick photoshoot in-between shows and other press events.
The Button Brothers
Individually they are magnificent but together they are a mighty force to be reckoned with. Forget the saccharine name, the Button Brothers are a serious unit. The wardrobe engineers, style influencers and image consultants hail from Zimbabwe but have called Melbourne, Australia home for the past 8 years. A sartorial imprint was made on the boys early on, and the duo attribute their style and attitude towards fashion to their upbringing in the Church, attendance at one of the top boy’s public schools in Zimbabwe and maybe the odd gangster on the silver screen. But whatever may have influenced Palmer and Marvin early on, they have certainly created a look and persona for themselves that is wholly individual and thoroughly infectious. “I’ll have what they’re having” springs to mind when we met with them last week in Sydney’s Rocks area and CBD.
Palmer (left), Marvin (right)
Badara “Badou” Ndiaye
“What’s with Uber drivers in Sydney?!” exclaimed an exacerbated Badara over WhatsApp, as he watched a 3rd car drive right on past him en route to our photoshoot. My response was a suitably perplexed ’emoji’ as I couldn’t fathom how anyone could miss this dude. At 6″11, this is a man who is closer to God than most and moves with the élan of a cat. With flawless, luminescent, ebony skin, he is both statuesque and warrior-like and on the day we met for our shoot, was dressed to kill. Badara or “Badou” as he is affectionately known, is a Senegalese basketball player turned model. Handpicked at a young age to play college basketball for Iowa and then Florida, sadly we will never know how that story could’ve played out because an injury put paid to any further hoop dreams. But suffice to say, basketball’s loss has been fashion’s gain as Badou has reinvented himself as not only a top model but a designer (he designs a lot of his own suits), actor (he’s been involved with a commercial starring LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, featured alongside Victoria’s Secret model Martha Hunt in a fashion video for a New York designer) and he’s an editor at the New York Style Guide. He may not be in the NBA but he’s playing in the major league of the men’s fashion industry.