London, Paris, Milan ... and now Hyde Park

2013-03-31 10:00

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Fashionistas, brace yourselves.

From next month, the likes of Alexander McQueen, Carolina Herrera, Georgio Armani, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney are coming to town.

They will be joined by Red Valentino, Chloe, Comme des Garcons, Balenciaga, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Marchesa, Baby Dior and Herve Leger.

But not in person.

Local media mogul Khanyi Dhlomo is bringing in garments from the sought-after international labels to her Hyde Park boutique – for those who can afford them.

The high-end labels – which can sell skirts for R80 000 and which have hogged red carpets from the Oscars to the Golden Globes – have not been available in South Africa before.

Local glamorzons have had to travel to Paris, London, Milan, New York and Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive to pick up their exclusive pieces.

Dhlomo and her co-investors – the National Empowerment Fund; her mother, Nokukhanya Dhlomo; and Dr Judy Dlamini, the wife of FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana – have clubbed together to open the 700 square metre Luminance boutique, which opens in July. A smaller “pop-up store” will begin operating in two weeks’ time.

Shoes from the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Giuseppe Zanotti will also be stocked.

Dhlomo said there was “synergy” between the readers of her business magazines and her new shop.

She said she came up with the idea while working for the SA Tourism Board in Paris, where she was inspired by the Colette emporium – three storeys of designer heaven.

Local labels – including Kluk CGDT, David Tlale, Marianne Fassler, Stoned Cherrie and Gavin Rajah – will also be on the rails. And the Luminance Private Label will cater for the typical South African woman’s figure.

If local designers are feeling threatened by this latest idea, they aren’t showing it.

Thula Sindi says he’s known about it for a while after “meeting Khanyi in Paris” while she was buying stock for the shop.

He said the shop will be “a hit with ‘tender mistresses’ from Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, whose husbands or boyfriends are very rich, but hate travelling and love beautiful things and international brands”.

Ephraim Molingoana of Ephymol says local couturiers already compete successfully with their international counterparts.

He’s confident loyal clients won’t leave him. “I understand the local market in terms of style and fit, and the rand is low. International labels will be expensive,” he says.

Paledi Segapo of PalseHomme says: “It’s good that local consumers are given a choice.

And for us in the business it’s good competition and will push us to be more innovative.”

And David Tlale said: “I think it’s a great idea and will do a lot for luxury brands in this country.”

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