Thursday night I spent surrounded by Joburg’s fashion set at the Marie Claire Prix D’Excellence del la Mode 2011, which if my French serves me (until now I could say goodbye, cat, French Revolution, let them eat cake! and enjoy your meal) means Marie Claire’s prize for supremely excellent fashion and all things fashionable.
The fashion set are an interesting crew – with flamboyant titles that match their taste in accessories. Among the judges were a “fashion architect” and a “fashion council member”. No fashion grand wizard or fashion supreme leader but that’s probably coming next year. As for me – I am a “fashion user”, committed to getting the occasional rush.
The Marie Claire SA team throw a party like they mean it. Champagne, sushi, oysters, a bountiful goodie bag (from Marie Claire and Estee Lauder) and Durban’s The Arrows – my favorite band for making me feel teenaged. Listen to them here The Arrows Lovesick
The heels of choice for the night were vertiginous for most of the women there – and MC Editor Aspasia Karras’s pair earned the most tweets for their audaciousness (they deserved an award all of their own). The Awards party claimed the sky above 1 Biccard Street in Braamfontein, SouthPoint property’s outdoor rival to their other favored Braamfontein venue Randlords. It was a beautiful Spring night. Skyline Gardens sits atop the city, a wooden deck with glass walls that reminds me of LA’s original sky bar at the Mondrian Hotel. (Name dropping is de rigueur when hanging with fashionistas)
From the 13th floor deck the city looked bedecked in all its finery – lots of bling-y twinkly lights, the colors of the Nelson Mandela Bridge changing in flashes. Guest of honor for the night was one of the world’s top fashion bloggers, Bryanboy, who had been flown in from Manila by Marie Claire and Sunglass Hut to hand over the best SA fashion blog prize and meet the locals. Bryanboy is boyishly good looking and even managed to make his mismatched socks and Marc Jacobs sandals look tres jolie.
We had met briefly (more like I sat at the same table) the day before at a blogger’s breakfast at the Salvation Cafe thrown by the sponsors (For a more rigorous account turn to missmillib’s blog and the article “About a Boy” written by Craig Jacobs).That morning his look was sedate, his story captivating. The boy who had gone on holiday to Russia years ago and decided he didn’t feel like writing letters home started a blog for his friends and metamorphosed into an international fashion superstar so big that Marc Jacobs named a handbag after him. Sunglass Hut’s Mike Elliott had it right when he said that with the coming of social media, the old rules no longer apply. Fashion’s front row now includes the bloggers and the tweeters, the darlings of new media.
By Thursday night he had gone native, sporting a gigantic Afro, which he said – when pressed – had been purchased from a sex shop in Brazil. He had a handbag slung over one shoulder and a fashion change for the Awards after-party. The handbag thing caught on quick and there were more than a handful of local fashionista boys who adopted the look for the evening.
So in the same week that Kiddie Amin aka Julius Malema and his acolytes were trashing the city I was up on the 13th floor joining in on celebrating the local fashion industry for its industriousness and entrepreneurship. It offered up a momentary glimpse of Joburg’s double-sided nature (less politely, its schizophrenia) and made me think that as the city develops the real divide will be between those who own the sky and those who own the street. Our little version of the downstairs/upstairs divide. Nurse, hand me that champagne!