Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (Review)

Let me begin in relaying my thoughts on fashion in the steady lilt of beautifully enunciated narration, such as the ones currently made popular in North American cinematic offerings:

“Fashion is the chaos in one’s soul, which allows the birth of subjective perfection. It is finding the imperfect breath-taking. It is where things fall apart, and realizing there is no need for a centre to keep things whole.”

I am disappointed in Cape Town Fashion Week 2014.

For an event that builds itself on the premise made iconic by an immaculate global brand, it should rethink boasting on its supposed excellence. It is a mediocre offering for people whose expectations are based on colorful advertising and such immense investors.

CelebSA is a PR & Communications company who handled all the media accreditation, and it was a nightmare for some this year. While applications were given in time, many Cape Town media professionals were side-lined in the place of prioritizing out-of-province and country media. Following all the plans I had made based on the belief that accreditation would be given to me based on my prior experiences with the Africa Fashion International body; I was given bad news and sent on my way. It took angry tweets, frustrated rambles to anyone who would lend an ear, tears shed behind closed doors, ticket negotiations with present personnel before each show; and finally, a calculated and generous decision by CelebSA’s Director Davin, before I finally felt comfortable enough to do my job effectively at the event on Day 2 with all the trappings of being a media personality in place.

My annual journey on Fashion Weeks always begins with finding the perfect place to stay. I had the privilege of staying at The Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street, Cape Town. It is a boutique hotel harboring a corner of indulgence, simple sophistication and convenient comfort. I found the staff more than courteous; their efficiency matched by their most sincere helpfulness. I stayed in a Luxury room with the warmest ambiance protecting me against the notorious bipolar-like weather of Cape Town. Crisp sheets, fluffy pillows, Tuscan beige villa-like tiles for the bathroom, funky patriotic decor, and worldly class fit into the design aesthetic of the room. It made getting ready each day, an absolute treat.

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The Cape Town International Convention Centre hosted the event in time-honored tradition, the set-up and schedule much more elegant and organized than previous years, though still lacking.

I was grateful to be dressed by Spilt Milk for most of the duration of Fashion Week. While they showcased their collection, opening the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2014 with Lara Klawikowsk, I donned a flowing black evening gown with stringy leather shoulder embellishments to make me seem even more regal than usual. I had styled myself for the 1st two days with a plait on my head and black on my person.

look1

Pictures taken by Spree and the AFI Banner Wall photographer

The next day saw me attending the Africa Fashion International Fasttrack Talks in a convenient day cotton Peplum dress in maroon.

The last day had me very relaxed, while my feet were in excruciatingly beautiful pain in nude Steve Madden stilettos; I wore an old skirt from MilQ&Honey, teamed with a leather jacket, vest,make-up by M.A.C and wild curls made by a GHD team-members talent.

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Lara Klawikowsk began her show with music in the genre sounds of The Kooks and Vampire Weekend.  Her show had flora-trapped-in-ice motif. It was a mix of Grecian maiden and mermaid, with texture elements of dehydrating foliage. One would wear most of Lara’s ensembles on a coastline, though the sheer green reflective madness that is one of her designer pencil skirts was so formal chic. The models shoes seem very much like they were carved from bark.

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Spilt Milk was the show that followed.  The designer Alma, who also dressed me for Fashion Week, said the inspiration for this collection was being utterly submerged. I hoped it translated well – sort of like being drenched in style. Her collection had Boudoir appeal; every piece seems crafted to flow, with materials in linens, raw silk and cottons. Full swimsuits are in this season, though white isn’t for dipping in the water, Alma’s swimsuit is made for wallowing poolside.

The Day 1 shows were all-in-all, a solid 7/10 for S/S 14 because of such a cavalier disregard for conventional fabric snipping.

Banner Wall Thursday

Me, with the Spilt Milk mastermind Alma at the AFI Banner Wall

Gavin Rajah’s show saw me sitting 3rd row with Luxo Blog fashion wonder Ritza, watching contemporary Oriental Geisha themes. The tweed numbers screamed inspiration from the ‘Clueless’ costume design. We were not keen on these legging/boot cover thingies donning the models legs and feet. I have no affinity for brand names and logos on my clothing so Rajah lost respect from me in that sense. Everything seemed awfully commercial. I’ve seen some of those items in Forever New. I loved the embellishments done on each ensemble though. Who needs floral printed fabric when you can hand-detail and embellish each masterpiece? Those iron-hard belts were bitchin’! It was like Gladiator met bodybuilder with style. The ceres pink collection was absolutely lovely though; form-fitting but some pieces made loose enough to be statuesque. The Baroque designs were what stood out as haute couture for me, with some being conservative enough to appeal to Muslin ladies too.

Banner Wall Thursday

Me and Ritza at the AFI Banner Wall

Stephani Morland’s Japanese Adverts starting the show totally freaked me out in a funny way. I expected a Harajuki theme, and therefore though of Gwen Stefani and her entourage…well that didn’t pan out. The clothing and the models were trying too hard to be interesting, and therefore missed the mark of style.

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I was bored by the Shana collection, and the W35T show and collection too – though the designer walk-away was entertaining.

On Day 2 I went to the annual Africa Fashion International Fast-track Talks . While waiting for entry I noticed quite a few striking attires donned by attendees.

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I got the privilege of watching the official 2nd world premiere of the film/documentary “Advanced Style” by Ari Seth Cohen. We got to go on an incredible journey with amazing woman over the ages of 60, with personal hardships, and impeccably unique individual style. Ari sat down to talk to Jackie Burger about film, travel, childhood, and the subtle nuances between local and international style and perception.

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Following a quick wardrobe change from my Peplum, I headed back to the CTICC for the Day 2 shows.

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Michelle Ludek gave us jungle fever, model nipple flash, Jacquard print in turquoises, green and shades of yellow and blue, making the collection earthy elegance. It was the colours that stood out in an otherwise singularly normal collection, and her finale dress was so Hamptons in the 4th of July!

Tart started their show with Jay Z as their soundtrack and the crowd was pumped. The designer allowed two versions of one dress on the ramp at the same time, the crowd was keen for a beach bum summer, and the models had such awe-inspiring Amazonian attitude!

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Day 2’s outfit just ruffles your feathers right?

With the next show I had the most unexpected feeling: Kobus Dippenaar and Imani made me feel like, for the first time, I was at a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Irrespective of location, I felt a sense of globalized style and decorum.

This collection encompassed everything required from a show built on the foundations of a reputable global reputation: it maintained impeccable design decadence and innovative enchantment. The clothing was for courting, dating, engagement, wedding and honeymoons; Sheer black lace and chiffon with nudes peeking through, African mosaics and jacquard geometric prints, exquisite crystal gems teamed with floral mosaic patters on tulle and empire skirts and dresses.

Kobus Dippenaar and Imani made me believe in the frailty of genius, and the way in which it needs an audience.

Banner Wall Friday

Me, Anelisa Mangcu and the IMANI designer at the AFI Banner Wall

2nd Row at Ruald Rheeder made me favorable towards the collection. The pastel/washed out pale tones were nice teamed with the in-trend brown brogues and such. Paisley pant print in turquoise green and whites did not overpower the male form.

Men were being taught to embrace the funk with couch florals in tailored suits. The style layering reminded me of a Middle Eastern vagabond travel writer, and I saw homage to classic suits from the Dolce&Gabanna campaigns with David Gandy.

Non-European began their show with drums and t-shirts asking:

“Who am I?”

“Who are you?”

 “Who are we?”

Guess the answer is ‘Non-European’

I gave a nod.

…I see what they did there.

I feel like only surfers and Burning Man attendees would rock this designer’s collection. There was this older female model though, who stole the show. She had the most haunting and memorable face you will ever encounter.

Known public fashion faces and obscure critics were accounted for at the event, representing the masculine side of world style.

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Day 3 was the final day and I accidentally missed the 1st shows due to attempts to make myself more glamorous. I ended up meeting the GlamourSA magazine editor dressed in an almost vintage wealth style, in between masses of alternative style tastes.

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I got to watch Danielle Margaux show with the most desolate and utterly romantic feel, made more poignant by the use of the ‘Gladiator’ soundtrack’s song “Now we are free” by Lisa Gerrard & Hans Zimmer . It reminded me a little of Jackie O’. Nothing new came from the design aesthetic, but I have no criticism because I was captivated. Oscar De La Renta would give a nod to Danielle Margaux’s evening gowns in pale pearl and baby pinks.

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Selfi was wearable, simple, very unassuming.

Leigh Schubert had a collection inspired by goldfish. There was a lovely cut jumpsuit with black piping folded over the waist to provide hip allowance, bowler dress in pink and models with Camel toe.

Loincloth and Ashes undercut the baby doll cuteness of their collection with an almost Iggy Azalea/Gaga edge. Their Earcuffs were MAGNIFICENT! Their collection was African without trying to be, which is something most fail at.

I freaked out something fierce when Lalesso had their show and played an obscure awesome Indie/Rock band’s tune – The Dandy Warhols’s “Bohemia like you”, very applicable considering the BoHo maxi-dresses. The jewelry stood out more than the designs, but I was too busy singing to criticize too much.

At some point I returned to the Media Lounge to absolute madness. They recruited me to try and fit 14 people into a new Mercedes-Benz parked in the vicinity…we only managed 9 but it was fun. There was good food and wines constantly coming around amidst our networking.

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I took the time to curiously peer and consume some of my goodie bag items. I LOVE FREE STUFF!

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The Craig Port show was attended by Cape Town media personalities Naledi Radebe and Anelisa Mangcu, and everyone trying to nab a seat to one of the most anticipated shows of the entire Fashion Week. Pastel khaki and pale pink, beige’s and champagne colored apparel were the order of the day. The lesson of the day was that there is no need for rough fabric on the male form, and to not fear for light (not bright) color tones. Craig chose The Beatles to usher in a new section of the collection and I felt that Here Comes the Summer. Port used 60s Hippie fashion and meshes contemporary minimalist chic.

The fashion week closer was Fabiani, with an audience standing, sitting, hovering etc. just to catch a glimpse of anything. Lana Turner said that “A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.”

…And the bearded models brought the two extremes together so cleanly.

Fabiani brought nothing innovative to the style game, but they sure did jump on the S/S 14 world trend of short summer suits for men.

Celebrities wrangled together for these last shows included: Marc Lottering, Jennifer Su, AKA, Da LES etc.

Street style had such variations and models kept things chill.

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So you’re probably wondering what the verdict is on the entire event…well here it is:

If you’ve never gone to a Fashion Week before, it’s okay to go in 2015 for a first time. No one ever wants their first time to be bad, so you hype things up in your head and pray for the best. The event is really slick when you are first exposed to it. After this, never go again – for fear of having jaded perceptions of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks across the world. I give no props to anyone. A great event requires everything to work and look seamless, even in the most perilous of times.

This will be my last Cape Town Fashion week for a while. Perhaps my next foray in a couple of decades will yield great weather, efficient and considerate organization, more exaggerated and ‘Fashion Weeky’ stylish apparel worn by attendees, and designer clothing that inspires, makes me obsessed, captivates, and brings absolute awe from my soul.

look2Me on Day 3 at the AFI Banner Wall

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