Cheer and loathing at fashion week

2014-07-27 06:00

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There are few certainties in life: An ever-new season of Idols SA and Mark Lottering’s spectacular afro bobbing at a social function near you.

Lottering would attend the opening, closing and sendoff party of an envelope. And that’s fine because he seems like a pretty cool guy.

One also cannot but admire the Idols SA crew’s rampant optimism. Some would have given up after nine seasons of searching for “South Africa’s next big thing” – but no, Randall and co are still going strong. Aluta continua, as they say.

This week, the struggle continued elsewhere, too. It was 10pm on Wednesday evening. Pinotage swirled in crystal glasses as my brain started to swirl in my skull.

To my right sat a Tim Noakes disciple, casually bantering as they do; in front of me Lottering’s towering coif nearly obscured the Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who was addressing a posh crowd at the gala opening of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week inside Cape Town’s City Hall.

Mthethwa was welcoming roughly a gazillion fellow dignitaries, carefully reading each name from a piece of unfolded paper. At this advanced hour, guests had ingested mere starters of tuna with “seaweed confetti”, and around the table tummies growled like a choir of Rottweilers.

Minister Mthethwa’s tie was green with patterns, paired with a pinstripe suit and a Yasser Arafat-style scarf in the colours of the Palestinian flag, rakishly skew. He said something about “setting up fashion incubators with design tools”; but honestly, his speech was mostly inaudible above the racket of that attire.

I suspect that old minister of police might have to answer to the fashion police soon.

By now the Tim Noakes proponent was shamelessly clutching the breadbasket, wolfing down handfuls of carbs. Across the table from us a young man with blue eye shadow was moaning into a glass of bubbly. He fell asleep face down then woke up, cheering loudly at something, I’m not sure what.

The Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies ascended the podium next. I can’t remember what he wore, which is probably for the best. He discussed the need for “industrial clusters” and spoke admiringly of the headline sponsor Mercedes-Benz and its luxury vehicles – a sentiment shared by comrade Tony Yengeni, of course.

Apt, then, that arms deal whistle-blower and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille also put in an appearance. On this occasion, she preferred to blow trumpets, though – that of African Fashion International and its founder Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, to be precise. She welcomed Dr Precious warmly.

As is her habit, Patricia showed the crowd who wears the pants in the Mother City in a shimmery violet suit and a black tie by Hugo Flear.

At my table, the blue-eyed guest with the golden curls was snoring now, with laughter though and not lethargy. He was swaying his stiletto-clad foot over the table, while next to him a couple from the Northern Suburbs exploded with mirth. It was wild. Then dinner eventually arrived, fortunately.

Finally, Dr Precious ascended the small stage swathed in a pink gown with black beads and sporting a huge tribal gold and diamond necklace that, from afar, resembled a shiny neck-totem of sorts.

“Do you think it’s real?” heavy-breathed a woman to my left. “Honey, of course its real! Her husband is, like, Patrice Motsepe, dude,” replied blondilocks gayly. He had lit a cigarette and was being ambushed by City Hall staff.

A string of models showed off local designs as we tucked into malva puddings with custard. I recognise upcoming catwalk star Eugon McNeil from Kraaifontein, a friendly bloke and we exchange high-fives.

Later, I bid my tablemates adieu and bump into Marianne Fassler in the bathroom on my way out – oh, the glamour.

And so started another exciting edition of fashion week, which showcased about 30 designers over three days.

The line-up included veterans like Fassler, Unicef ambassador Gavin Rajah, KLûK CGDT, who has garbed Charlize Theron, and Loin Cloth & Ashes, who dressed Solange Knowles when she was in town.

Also, promising newcomers like Akedo, Hugo Flear and W35t.

Seriously, let’s support local fashion you guys: it’s cool and creates jobs and opportunities. It may not be “South Africa’s next big thing” just yet, but it’s one of many machines we need to grease to make South African life a smoother, better ride in the long run.

A little rampant optimism never hurt anyone, I guess.

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