Joburg gets an inner-city festival

Impressions of Joburg - The Mapungubwe Hotel Courtyard, Grafitti at Fashion Kapitol and view from The Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein

Impressions of Joburg – The Mapungubwe Hotel Courtyard, Grafitti at Fashion Kapitol and view from The Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein

To launch Joburg’s inner-city festival coming up in August, the Joburg City Tourism Association threw a three-day party for 60 journalists. I was lucky enough to be on that list and to spend the weekend hanging out at some of the coolest places…. Friday night in Joburg city centre and what could have been a regular few blocks walk between Market and Loveday Streets on a chill Autumn night turned into something extraordinary. On the pavement outside the impressive Edwardian-style entrance to the Rand Club, the city’s grandest landmark, thirty four members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra were arrayed, flash-mob style – playing classical and popular pieces. Continue reading

Joburg Fashion Week heads to the city

Enjoy the idea of Joburg Fashion Week glossing up the inner city. It’s something SA Fashion Week and the Fairlady Awards did for years but to a much smaller audience. I’ve seen catwalk shows at Turbine Hall, pre-renovation, at Hillbrow’s Windybrow Theatre and even at the deconsecrated Wolmarans Street Synagogue. This time the venues are a little more luxe and include the Rand Club, the Bus Factory (OK, not that luxe) and what sounds like a spectacular finale across the Nelson Mandela Bridge with David Tlale showing 92 outfits, each marking one year of Madiba’s life. I have also heard that the best part of that show will be that everyone gets a front-row seat – and you don’t have to trip a fashion editor for it. Continue reading

Inner-city revival

#118. Celebrate what’s good about this city. And there’s lots. On Thursday night I was at Constitution Hill’s Round House  toasting Joburg’s inner-city developments. The Halala Awards were started by the Johannesburg Development Agency last year to reward the brave who have ventured where most people fear to tread – town. Not only have they ventured, they have also put money into developing oases of calm in a city, that as Ruby Matang, a Johannesburg city councillor put it, “oscillates between decline and vibrancy”. Continue reading

Africa's sad museum

#115. Wonder what happened to Museum Africa. Having missed the launch last week of l’Afrique: A tribute to Maria Stein Lessing and Leipold Spiegel – pioneering collectors of African art and artefacts who recognised and celebrated the profound influence that these had on 20th Century European artists like Picasso, Gaugin and Matisse – I took a trip to Newtown yesterday. Continue reading

Politics and SA Fashion Week

#99. Give fashion a chance. The political intrigue that has dominated the week with the Mbeki plotters being out- manouevred by the Zuma plotters and the now not-so-secret tapes made public has left me seeking refuge from big news about big men with big plots, and machinations worthy of a Shakespeare production. It is apparent that as a country we have been used as the setting for an enormous battle between political ambitions and … political ambitions, making it all but impossible to choose sides.

And so I can’t help savouring the memory of Friday night — before the latest political storm broke — at  the Turbine Hall in Newtown where two very different fashion constitutiencies were brought together by a shared love of detail, stripes, and … dressing up. Continue reading

Joburg's Newtown gets an electric makeover

#29. Take a trip into Newtown to see the “new” Turbine Hall. In the mid-1990s I used to walk from the Sunday Times’ offices in the Diamond Building in Diagonal Street, to the West Street Parking Arcade. Diagonal Street was a blur of noise and colour, shweshwe fabrics and leopard print blankets, Converse high tops and dried monkey skins at the muti shop, with  traders hanging out on the street outside their stores.

By contrast the Turbine Hall, Joburg’s first power station, dating back to 1927, stood derelict Continue reading