The Mandela July

2013-07-07 10:00

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Horses, fashion, glamour, but Tata was on everyone’s mind

Never mind the fashion, the ­glamour and the all-important horse race, this year’s Durban July was about just one thing: Nelson Mandela.

The ailing statesman was top of everyone’s minds – and featured prominently in some outfits – at one of the year’s premier social events at the Greyville Racecourse.

Some celebrities didn’t want to risk ruining their interpretation of the year’s theme, Posh? Oh My Gosh!, by pinning on heart-shaped badges featuring a black-and-white picture of Mandela’s smiling face.

But that didn’t mean they weren’t thinking of him.

Kaizer Chiefs’ marketing manager, Jessica Motaung, said: “It’s all in the heart. We are with him in spirit.”

At 4pm, once revellers arriving for the main race had strutted their stuff for each other and the cameras, the organisers called for 67 seconds of silence for ­Mandela.

During this time, photographs of the former president appeared on big screens around the racecourse. Then there was an emotional rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.

Mandela may have been on everyone’s mind, but the absence of another famous face also drew some attention.

Princess Charlene of Monaco, who was born in ­Zimbabwe and raised in South ­Africa, was due to attend, but race organisers said she sent her apologies on Friday.

Durban July spokesperson Dave Macleod said the princess had “other commitments at home in Monaco”.

“She was looking forward to ­attending, but recognises that her commitments supercede attending a social event. She is sad and it’s regrettable that she couldn’t make it. She sent her love,” Macleod said.

But neither Wittstock’s absence nor Mandela’s ill-health could dampen spirits on the day.

Celebrities started trickling into the Vodacom paddock after 2pm.

First to arrive was Bonang ­Matheba in a striking neon-yellow Gert Johan Coetzee gown.

The new face of Revlon was accompanied by her hair and make-up man, Nthato Mashishi, who commented that Bonang’s look concentrated on the “Oh my gosh!” element of the theme – and it worked, because her outfit elicited several “oohs” and “aahs”.

Coetzee himself went for a houndstooth suit.

Leo Manne, the general manager of channels at SABC TV, opted for a subtle Delmont suit while his wife Nthabiseng chose a brown dress by Hip Hop.

It was drab office suits for advertising executive Peter Vundla and Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza. Kaizer Chiefs’ Jessica Motaung sashayed in wearing a deep orange flowing Kenzo dress paired with large Victoria Beckham shades.

She topped the look with a colourful elegant headwrap.

Dineo Ranaka used the opportunity to introduce her label, LuvDR.

The look was rather space-age, with exaggerated shoulders and combined the clashing fabrics of houndstooth and leatherette.

She was there shooting for the All Access TV show as their new presenter.

Basetsana Kumalo, in a black-and-white Gavin Rajah embellished dress, said she interpreted the theme as timeless elegance.

TV presenter Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu wore a green-and-black David Tlale dress.

She went to bed at 4am after the Hats Party at Vintage Florida, but said she still felt fresh – and she looked it too.

Heavy Metal, with jockey Smanga Khumalo, won the main event.

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