Bye Bye Baby

I am delighted to announce that my little Pessimiss overhaul is finally complete. With the help of some friends and a very clear Pessimiss-like vision, is now live. Henceforth I will blogging from my new little digital boudoir, and I’d love it if you would join me. This blog will remain up for a little while and will then be removed.

The new blog is like this blog’s grown up sister – a little more sophisticated, a little more together and a lot more me. Please do let me know what you think of her.

Big love, and thanks for reading.


Marni x H&M 2012



These bow-tie-bedecked two-tone wingtips by Comme des Garcons have me slouching all over the show, exhaling theatrical sighs and swoons (not kidding, that’s how I roll when it comes to tuxedo-inspired attire, in particular where accessories are concerned).

Someone recently told me I shouldn’t be so concerned with fashion. I had a private Miranda-in-Devil-Wears-Prada moment, as I took in the accusee’s fashion-conscious chambray and straight-cuts. I get so tired of hearing it, honestly. It is possible to be completely fashion befok and still not be a vapid, shallow creature that blinks, glassy-eyed at the mention of more authentic concerns like the environment, world peace and the economy. I’ll Murakami and Greenpop your ass back to self-righteousville, I will.

AND back to my swoon. Those sleek-stepping Comme des Garcons beauties remind me of this video:

Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution.

I haven’t posted one of my musical addictions in a while (do you recall the Steed Lord infatuation?) and, given my current day-to-day busyness settling into my new job at Woolworths House (!!!), I think it’s high time.

This song is Halloween all over for me. I’ve always been partial to a little Cut Copy, but the added kookiness of this track, video and that irresistible pop-slathered bridge have me listening to it on repeat (in my head and on YouTube).

Blink and you’ll miss a revolution, indeed.

Dia de los Muertos

Today marks the traditional Mexican celebration, Dia de los Muertos, or ‘Day of the Dead’. The Mexicans believe in honoring the dead and find beauty in the macabre – the ornate Mexican sugar skull is the most well known symbol of the tradition. These bright, flora and heart-festooned totems have become popular symbols of otherness in Western pop culture over time, and are more and more frequently incorporated into everything from textiles, to tattoos, art and fashion. This weekend I actually  attended the opening of the Wildfire exhibit at Yours Truly, and fell in love with an engraved wooden skull, one of two, which were the first ones to be marked with red ‘sold’ stickers. My own house has been sharing space with skulls for some time already, and the increasing popularity of the skull motif has done nothing to abate my obsession.

A couple of weeks ago my very own Mexican death skull participated in a Dia de los Muertos shoot for Dossier, and I have the privilege of publishing a sneak preview of it today. Photographed by Antonia Steyn, the shoot was styled and art directed by my dear friend Crystal Birch (with the help of stylist Chloe Andrea), and serves as a visual compendium of local queen of print play Maya Prass‘ work over the last decade. One of Maya’s first interns back in the day, Crystal raided Maya’s Woodstock studio for the purposes of the shoot, and I really think that Maya’s surreal ruffles, neon-on-neon prints and textured boleros give the Dia de los Muertos theme a dose of lusty femininity.

Crystal accessorised each look with insane Ida Elsje jewellery and head pieces (I’m a huge fan – do yourselves a favour and go check out her Church Street studio!), which were recently shown at both the Africa and New York Fashion Weeks. Frida Kahlo-esque braids and matte neon eyes by One League make-up artist Nandi Fourie play up the bewitching symmetry of 16 year old model Katryn Kruger‘s delicate features.

Keep an eye out for the full shoot in Dossier soon – let me just say that Crystal created an epic tiered ball gown of a dress from a mass of Maya Prass ruffled skirts and it is a sight to behold.

Happy Halloween, love Kate & Alix.

This is Alix-Rose Cowie and I at the Haunting of City Hall Halloween bash on Saturday night. Alix went as a Harajuku girl and I went as a voodoo geisha. We met on the historic City Hall balcony for a photo opportunity over Sailor’s Grave cocktails to the tune of Cut Copy, surrounded by the living dead.

Happy Halloween!

Go buy the November issue of Wallpaper*, now!

A month or so I was given the incredible opportunity of contributing to the November issue of Wallpaper* Magazine. For the last two weeks I have haunting the aisles at Exclusives and other purveyors of good magazines, and it is officially out! It’s a huge honour for me to read my name (middle name included, of course) in the pages of a magazine that I associate with impeccable taste, strong writing and an appreciation of all culture.

The November issue features Wallpaper’s top 20 reasons to be in countries the likes of France, Portugal, China, Canada, Sweden, and, of course, South Africa. I interviewed and wrote about four Capetonian creatives/platforms that I think are doing things a little differently.

Get your pods on the latest issue of Wallpaper* to find out why Crystal Birch, Cindy Poole from The Summit, Jenna Bass and Hannes Bernard from Jungle Jim and Murray von Hirschberg from Enmasse are giving the rest of the world a reason to keep an eye on our country.

Velvet Crush

Topshop’s Velvet Crush boutique is currently killing me softly. I’m always a sucker for a lush slick of velveteen, and the Deco-meets-grunge undertone of the collection is oh so Stevie Nicks (Lord knows I have a considerable thing for Fleetwood Mac,too).

Midnight blue velvet brothel creepers, velvet short shorts and ruby red lace ups? My very own Gypsy-era dream.

Mary Katrantzou x Topshop

I spied this epic collaboration between high street honey Topshop and the inimitable high priestess of print play, Mary Katrantzou, on Style Bubble this weekend and it was like a little hit of adrenalin.

The collection will consist of 10 pieces and will be released in February 2012, with frocks like this tulip-shaped belle retailing for £350 – pretty much as close as us civilians will ever come to caressing a Katrantzou.

Start stockpiling those pennies, ladies!


Desirable new beauties by local jewellery designer Oh Dear Megan. I like the balance between the delicate chain and the chunkier geometric pieces, as well as the play on symmetry and assymmetry. Available in silver and gold from Mungo & Jemima.


#21stCenturyGirl: Amber Jones

Here we go – the next installment of #21stCenturyGirl!

Meet Amber Jones (if you don’t already pore over her fabulous blog), another fashion-obsessed local with a leaning towards the digital and an accessories fiend after my own heart.

Read Amber’s lovely blog / Follow her on Twitter

Teddy Girl.

My penchant for mixing masculine and feminine styling recently led me to the so-called Teddy Boys; a subculture of rebellious young Britons that emerged in London in the 1950s as a form of post-war expression. The Teddy Boys or Teds, as they are sometimes referred to, married the stylistic dandyisms of the Edwardian period with strong ties to American rock ‘n roll. The Teds became the first group of youngsters in the history of England to differentiate themselves in this way, and as the movement gained popularity, it gave way to a lifestyle characterised by rival gangsterism, sharp dressing and music culture.

The Teddy Boy getup centered around the iconic drape jacket, often bedecked with velvet collars and pocket detailing, drainpipe trousers, exposed socks and skinny ties paired with gleaming Oxfords, chunky brogues or suede brothel creepers – the exact kind beloved by fashion forward culprits like Susie Bubble today. The Ted coif – the iconic duck’s tail – was another hallmark of the era, and this symbol of rock ‘n roll attitude remains the choice of dapper modern gentlemen today.

The girls, of course, were not to be left out. Teddy Girls, or Judies, as they are also known, worked the look in drape jackets, sleek pencil skirts, cuffed jeans, cameos, espadrilles and jaunty clutches. Their style later evolved to incorporate the American influence of full circle Pink Lady-style skirts, sassy ponytails and toreador trousers. Typically of working class descent, the Teddy Girls were factory workers who spent their time making their trademark clothes and rejecting the conventions set out for them by the time.

In the 70s, and again in the 80s, rockabilly music and a resurgence of Teddy Boy styles was fueled by the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, who added a little more glam rock to the look. Ted revivalists continue to pay homage to the original trappings of the 1950s style, in some cases driving 1950s cars, wearing only 1950s clothes, and stockpiling 50s-era collectibles.

I find the Teddy Girl style particularly alluring. I love the unapologetic stylisation of the look, and the confident statement that the women that wore it were making. I find myself incorporating various aspects of the Teddy Girl and later rockabilly styles into my look – a letterman jacket here, a neck tie there, and of course, my perennial devotion to rockabilly staples: red lips and cat’s eyes.

Over the past year or so the influence of the Ted movement on street style has been marked – duck tail coifs, drainpipe pants, wingtips, creepers, neck ties and dandy styling are all visibly popular, from Seattle to Seoul.

As blogger Cartoon Heart observes in her Resort 2012 round up below, the Teddy Boy style holds as much influence over the masculine as it does over the feminine. With unisex footwear and clothing on the rise, and the irreverent mixing of traditionally gender-specific clothing items, it seems the Teddy Boy androgyny was way ahead of its time.

Fascinating to novelists, musicians and filmmakers since the movement first came about in the 1950s, Teddy Girls are still inspiring styling today. I love this aptly titled editorial, Teddy Girls, which was shot by Liz Ham and styled by Jolyon Mason for Oyster Magazine in 2010.

It’s modern and old all at once.

All vintage Teddy Girl images by Ken Russell

Old Faithful

In my first week at college they made us do all manner of awkward ‘icebreakers’ and get-to-know-each-other exercises. You know the kind: say your name and three things no one else knows about you, or even more cringeworthy, state your name and accompany it with an action that best illustrates your mood. So 90s.

One such exercise involved us each filling a shoebox with personal articles which would then be handed over to someone else in the group to deduce things about our personalities. This particular exercise actually had me interested – sure, you’re going to put in a couple of wanky things that make you look suitably cultured and interesting, but it really is telling to note the things that people want you to know about them.

The shoebox that I received contained a single, beaten up old trainer – scuffed, with worn down soles and fuzzy laces. What did it say about its owner, Johannes? That he was unpretentious, outdoorsy and not too concerned with fashion. ‘You got everything right,’ said Johannes, ‘but you missed one thing.‘ What was it? The fact that he is extremely loyal. He had been wearing the same pair of shoes for years and had no plans of swapping them for a new pair any time soon. I’ve never forgotten that.

My own old faithfuls, my suede Country Road ankle boots, have reached a similar stage of character building. I have officially worn through the sole of the right one, right down to the ground. The veneer on the heels has been superglued back into place, the buckle straps, I lovingly refurl into place on a regular basis. They’ve been to huge rock concerts, interviews, dinners, on dates and to festivals. I’ve worn them so smooth in the sole that I routinely avoid near-spills in public places. During winter I lusted after a pair of Chelsea boots which were to become their replacement, so I thought. Not the case. Now, just before their official first re-soling, they remain my first choice.

I feel proud to be so invested in my old faithfuls. I still routinely wear a pair of low-heeled leather Crayon wedges that I bought when I was 17, despite friends and family telling me to chuck them on a regular basis. I see a good, solid shoe as something that is hard to come by. When you find them, with a little love, care (and possibly, a sense of humour), they will last you a lifetime.

Bow Peep

I allowed my blue velvet bow tie its second debut (it will be worn many times, and each time will be known as a debut) to Woodlands Eatery for dinner on Saturday night.

The blue lushnesss was paired with a vintage polka dot shirt (which has the most unbelievable cut for a shirt: full in the sleeve, tight in the cuff, slim in the waist and sexy around the hips), cuffed indigo skinnies, bondage heels, my new soulmate bag and Show Orchid by MAC lips (a touching farewell gift from the amazing girls at 36Boutiques).

I look pretty smug in this photo – I blame it on the bow tie.

Vintage Binge

This weekend coincided with payday and a visit from my parents, which meant lots of food (homefangled ginger cookies, champagne and camembert, in no particular order), lots of laughs and of course, a little shopping. My mom was already mooning over a pair of 50s-esque vintage Prada heels she had spied at Stock Exchange, so I allowed myself the indulgence and had a browse.

I walked out with a really soft navy silk blouse splashed with bright blurs of blossom. It has fetchingly drapey sleeves and I see it was a) denim short shorts and ankle boots a la Alexa or b) skinnies to work. The sunshine-yellow beaded necklace is the result of a project that employs struggling women in Knysna to create jewellery and it was a gift from my maman.

My mom walked out with the chunky little Pradas, which, we told my toe-tapping father, are an investment piece (obviously). They have a Marilyn edge to them and are truly sassy, in the good, old-fashioned sense.

Breakfast at Superette compelled us to pop in at The Cat’s Meow in Woodstock – as one does – and I found my mini bag soulmate, hip yet regal, waiting for me on a shelf amidst attention-seeking lurex and puffed sleeves. I smoothed my hands down its little leather body, caressed the tortoiseshell handle and rivet detailing, and instantly started plotting an outfit around its sleek shape for dinner later that evening. At R170.00, it simply reaffirmed my belief that The Cat’s Meow is well-priced, and that Barbara and Laura’s taste and passion for vintage sets their little shopette apart.

My mom had been telling me about a secret vintage haul she had made in Knysna last week, and when she unveiled this super retro one piece in vibrant paisley and with those truly old-fashioned breast cups, I was smitten. We marvelled that girls in the 60s and 70s surely had completely different shapes to our own, with fuller hips, daintier waists and breasts like rockets. Seriously!Needless to say I tried it on and it looked and felt great – like I should’ve been poolside in the old How to Make an American Quilt movie scenes, but it is returning to Knysna in no uncertain terms.

The final item – and a truly novel one at that – was a black-as-night kimonowith a hand-painted silk lining. From the outside it looks simple and precisely cut, but the lining is a story unto itself. A hand-painted tiger and dragon, one resting on the shoulder, the other, the shoulder blade, guard some kind of totem and a serious of foreign characters. I love the idea that the entire garment hides a secret.

A most satisfactory vintage binge.

If you’re a vintage fiend or you’re looking for something special, do yourself a favour and check out:

Stock Exchange for hand-picked designer vintage one offs – find them at the top of Kloof Street opposite Manna Epicure and Caffe Milano. Go armed with either a post-payday purse or some serious willpower.

The Cat’s Meow for a broad selection of vintage accessories, clothing and a boudoir-esque space at 210 Victoria Road, Woodstock – right next to Ye Olde Biscuit Mill.