SA Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 opening night

It wouldn’t have been SA Fashion Week (April 11-15) without a nipple or two peeking through sheer fabric, girls on stilts, boys channeling Filipino superstar fashion blogger Bryan Boy with a clutch bag in one outstretched arm and lots of jostling for tickets and attention…

Black Coffee's Congolese Kuba-cloth-inspired collection

Black Coffee’s Congolese Kuba-cloth-inspired collection

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Collecting Gingers – An exhibition of the redhead species

300 gingers_MRAnthea Pokroy collects gingers. When I hear that I imagine her standing up at a support meeting, guiltily surveying the room, and then confessing. I also am mildly reassured. Though not a collector, I am a ginger, and find myself drawn to other redheads, unusually interested in characters like Homeland’s Damian Lewis, Desperate Housewives “Bree Van de Kamp”, News International’s Rebekah Brooks and now in Pokroy.
It appears that once you start, there is no holding back. In just over two years Pokroy collected more than 500 gingers, photographing each one of them. Her solo exhibition “I collect gingers” opened in January, a series of portraits presented in 10 “hair groups” – a spectrum from strawberry blond to dark auburn cross-referenced against skin and eye colour. The groups constitute a racial classification invented by the artist, with sub-classifications. “It’s human nature to create hierarchies, but I haven’t suggested who is the low – I wanted the viewer to impose that,” says Pokroy. Continue reading

Joburg to Hatfield by Gautrain

“This is Mr Matthews your train driver. Sit back and relax. The weather is sunny, the ride is sweet and everything is Ayyyyyyobbbbba (Drawn-out World Cup speak for “just great”).”
I am a fan of the Gautrain #justsaying. In fact I am a fan of any mode of transport that doesn’t involve surgical gloves, hard stares and taking your shoes off. That’s any mode of transport that doesn’t presuppose I am a mad bomber hellbent on the world’s destruction. I’m more like a one-person economic recovery plan, committed to single-handedly rescuing cities from the economic downturn by spending some hard-earned cashola.

"I made my favourite thing for dinner - a reservation" - Entrance to Papa's, Duncan Yard

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The messianic bergie at Circa 2009

#167. Take in Joburg’s newest and hippest gallery space. Saturday morning and the sun was shining, the jacarandas dropping purple snow while artist Willem Boshoff held court outside the Circa gallery looking part messiah, and as a friend remarked part “bergie”.
I have spent months driving past that corner on Jan Smuts Avenue growing ever more intrigued by the ambitious oval-shaped building with its clean lines, spiral concrete staircase and it’s finned exterior. No cupolas, no Toscana Afrikana pretensions — just clean, beautiful lines, as they should be.

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

Circa Gallery, Rosebank

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Joburg's Pride

#149. Watch the Pride parade as it headed through Rosebank this morning. On an otherwise drab spring day in the city the Pride parade brought lots of feathers, stilletos, mini coopers, naked bottoms and happy-looking marchers.

Traffic marshall with matching tutu

Traffic marshall with matching tutu

Gay and gifted

Gay and gifted

Joburg gets on board

Joburg gets on board

Bikers with boas

Bikers with boas

The Democratic Alliance in full colours

The Democratic Alliance in full colours

pink

Soweto's fashion set

#148. Head to Joburg’s chic-est new 5-star hotel for the announcement of the winners of the Sanlam Fashion Journalism Awards.  Last week I had a chance to pop into the very exclusive-looking The Monarch Hotel on Oxford Road, a rumoured R64-million refurbishment of the old post office building. (I have an appointment to go back and get the inside story).

I was there to attend the awards — of which I was a judge, together with City Press Editor-in-Chief Ferial Haffajee, Radio 702 talkshow host Jenny Cryws-Williams and Kassie Naidoo, creative director at King James. Fashion commentator and trends analyst Dion Chang was the convenor. And the winners were…. in the fashion editing category Business Day Wanted’s Jenny Andrew for a feature called “Paper Dolls” — an exquisite spread created together with paper sculptor Hazel Buchan, an interpretation of fashion as art to mark the Joburg Art Fair — and for fashion writing, Millisuthando Bongela’s Street Smarties which was published in Elle magazine. They had some tough competition from the likes of  Sharon Becker, Mary Corrigall and Leigh Robertson.

Paper Dolls by Jenny Andrew

Paper Dolls by Jenny Andrew

Reading Millisuthando Bongela’s piece about the “street smarties” — brown on the inside and all colours on the outside — was  like unwrapping a shiny little treat. It’s a piece about a youth subculture who define themselves by the colourful gear they wear.

Their muse is vibrancy, their chronicler is photographer Lolo Veleko (who no suprises here is big in Japan and New York where they have a depth of appreciation for sartorial flourishes).

Bongela was the first to put her finger on that pulse in the popular press and to document what is a very interesting street-fashion movement not confined only to Soweto.

“In South Africa 15 years ago, a black person was identified by his language, the music he listened to or his level of political consciousness — or lack thereof. It would be wrong to say all black people dressed the same, but perhaps safe to say that if you were black, you mostly didn’t have time to worry about how you looked.”

“We have the freedom to look like this beacuse our parents struggled for us to be whoever we want to be,” Bongela quotes 22-year-old Kepi Mngomezulu.

“Dion Chang calls them ‘Joburg’s cool young things’.”

“These are people in charge of at least their sartorial destinies,” said the Village Voice. They called Veleko’s photographs of the fashion set “an antidote to the prevailing view of the ‘dark continent’ as a place of entropy and despair” ( Luckily it takes more than a Village to reflect the world we live in). Continue reading

Van der Merwe triumphs in District 9

#136.  Go see District 9. Last night was the premiere of the movie that everyone is talking about. Aliens in Johannesburg, weapons caches, biotechnology, a Nigerian warlord, some voodoo and an anti-hero called Wikus van der Merwe. Irresistible. Continue reading

I can hear those vuvuzelas now

#79. Count down to the Soccer World Cup in 2010. With only 498 days left until the Fifa Soccer World Cup, I am  noticing signs of soccer life stirring. Months ago Fifa President Sepp Blatter visited and brought to everyone’s attention that there was little to suggest this country was close to putting on the greatest show on earth (or is that the Olympics?). I too was concerned but decided not to go to the press with it.

Germany apparently promoted their World Cup for a full three years which led me to wonder whether we are a nation with a short attention span or one that just likes to leave things to the last minute?

Mostly the signs of life are coming from sponsors and their ad agencies who are starting to promote what many hope will be South Africa’s greatest moment on the world stage since Nelson Mandela had his debut. Until now it’s been background stuff — just the occasional shudder in Rosebank as the Gautrain builders blast their way to Pretoria, Continue reading

Art auction raises thousands for Gerhard Marx vs BMW court case

#46. Head to Fordsburg for an art auction. With news that Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang didn’t jump but was pushed and replaced by Barbara Hogan (see my previous post) and that the health of the country was now in capable hands, it was time to leave the comfort of home. We headed to the Bag Factory also known as the Fordsburg Artists’ Studios last night for an auction of South African art to raise money to support the case of local artist Gerhard Marx vs BMW. Continue reading