Monthly Archives: December 2010

Be my, be my baby.

My mom and I spent yesterday morning in the little hamlet of Sedgefield, raiding the small (but potent) clutch of vintage and collectibles establishments there. Sedgefield, if you’ve never had the privilege of passing through, is certainly nothing to write home about on the style front. Its inhabitants are most likely to be seen strolling or pedaling the high street in Crocs or some other form of painfully functional footwear, sometimes accompanied by a mullet, and other times, tie dye.

But Sedge, as we affectionately like to refer to it, does possess a kind of sleepy, farmer’s market charm. And it is because of this unseemly sleepiness that the vintage gems lie in wait, glistening quietly until days like yesterday, when I pluck them from obscurity, hold them up to the light, and get a little high.

Among other finds that I’m still too covetous to unveil, this gleaming little 1920’s handbag stole the show. It is sealed with a metal contraption that expands and contracts, allowing you to stash your essentials within its dainty belly. I’ve never seen an evening bag this shape and my mom and I both fell in love with it, so we plan to share it. This may be problematic, with me returning to Cape Town this weekend, but hopefully we can be mature about it (and when I say ‘we’, I mean me).

My other once-in-a-lifetime find for the day was a floor length 60’s evening gown with a paisley brocade skirt and a black chiffon bodice. The collar and cuffs are also fashioned from the brocade, and are embellished with black crystals that dangle and gleam. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes, and I’m still too overwhelmed to share anything more than this little peek. It’s part Jane Birkin, part Twiggy, part Foxy Cleopatra, and it was R30. No, really. Someone, invite me to a retro ball, now. I will wear a beehive and Edie Sedgwick eyes and I’ll do all the old dance moves.

Two other classics that have been resurrected are a pair of perfect brown peep toe heels of my mom’s, another Knysna vintage find, and these 60’s style sunglasses. Rediscovering vintage pieces that you haven’t worn in a while is almost as good as finding them for the first time. The joy and luck you feel is profound, and usually results in a glowing sense of self-congratulation. Weird, but true. I really do believe it’s fate.

That’s exactly what happened with these sunglasses. I found the groovy patterned frames in a box of abandoned old glasses at my optometrist’s office a few years ago. Between Buddy Holly classics and decaying cat’s eyes they lay, waiting to be restored to their former glory. I had them fitted with dark brown lenses and have only recently started wearing them again.

They make me feel like a shoo-wop girl.


My God.

These YSL shoes, spotted on Jak & Jil, made my heart stop.

And on that note, I thought I’d pay a little homage to Miss Nancy Sinatra, the original Boots are made for Walkin’ queen. Whenever this video comes on VH1, my dad calls me, because we love to watch Nancy and the gals groovin’ in their sweaters and stockings.

They look like the happiest girls in the world. Aint nothin’ like a sweater and stockings to get you grinning.


Black & Gold

My posts thus far this holiday have been erratic, which is no wonder, considering I am spending my time languishing like a lizard in the sun, trawling through vintage and brewing over exciting Pessimiss-related plans for 2011 (more on that to come). I have thus decided to not be too much of a maniac about it, and to post when things arise that are both pertinent and inspiring. And vintage is always pertinent and inspiring, wouldn’tcha say?

I have had such luck in and around Knysna with my vintage hunt, with one or two places still on the list to pillage. Items so far include an interestingly cut white blouse featuring fabric epaulettes, a cinched waist, and a faint white-on-white alphabet pattern (fitting for a writer, in a dorky literary joke kind of a way). Also, a cream Chinese embroidered silk blouse in a state of glorious decay, fraying at the seams and with the slightest of tears in the shoulder. And a velvet brocade clutch; lush rose-coloured flourishes on threadbare black with a gold zip.

Whilst adding the little clutch to my collection I decided to have a snoop through the rest of my mom and my vintage purses. I’ve been meaning to do a post about black and gold as a colour combination for a while, because I find it so truly glamorous, always with a touch of ghetto. As it turns out, black and gold form quite a predominant theme in our collection, so I thought I’d put them all together in a little ‘moodboard’ (say it with an affected drawl, please).

The velvet ribbed ladylike one and the dainty golden girl are my favourites. They dangle from the wrist with such old world charm.

Report back soon on any other vintage beauties I come across…


For the past few years, Knysna shoppers in-the-know have been quietly pulling their cars up outside 5 Faure Street, Westhill, knocking on the white door of the house there, and leaving hours later, their arms loaded with bags of silk scarves, Topshop and Zara frocks, the floatiest of kaftans straight from Delhi, and locally made gems that are otherwise hard to find. Having been one of the first to be inducted into this secret circle of covetous shoppers, I now begrudgingly share the secrets of the loot with you.

The Spice Studio, run by fabulous local madam, Teresa Dalton, is the Garden Route’s best-kept shopping secret. Teresa and her equally vivacious daughter, Tammy Walker, are close friends of my mom and I, and style sisters second to none. They share our passion for one-off beauties, vintage mania and flamboyant anything. And I have never met a mother and daughter with more natural taste and style than these blonde go-to-girls.

Sourced directly from a contact in Delhi, Teresa’s Spice Studio is an ornate sanctuary filled to the brim with things to look at. All artfully displayed in typical Teresa style, you’ll find ruffled silk Topshop skirts, Antik Batik beauties, Zara must-haves and Tammy’s own range of skirts, dresses, belts, jewels and headbands, Dollhouse. I personally own quite a few of Tam’s over-the-top, handmade pieces, and the best thing about them is that they are truly unique and always guaranteed to inspire compliments and/or envy.

Teresa only gets a few sizes of each piece with the aim being to produce a really exclusive shopping experience. With her great eye for detail and colour, she also knows exactly what will suit each person that visits her studio and has a knack for pairing things that makes you want to leave with half the shop. Which you often do, because the prices are excellent. Silk Topshop dresses and skirts, authentic Indian silk kaftans and other beautiful one-offs start at around R 200, which means you really can afford to do a good wardrobe top up with Terese.

Whenever I am in Knysna my first stop is 5 Faure Street, and Teresa often gives my mom and I a first peek when she receives a new stash of gorgeous goods. So far this holiday I’ve bought a dove grey polka dot Topshop tutu, a cream embroidered blouse and the lushest of fuschia velvet rosettes.

Tammy is the little blonde maverick behind some of The Spice Studio’s most beautiful items. A LISOF graduate, Tam is also a freelance stylist, fashion editor of G-Tribe magazine and owner/designer of her luscious label, Dollhouse. She runs her business from her studio space at Joburg’s trendy 44 Stanley Avenue, where she lets out space to other up and coming designers. She has also just been asked to take up a position at LISOF teaching fashion design, which she will happily slot into her busy and glamorous schedule as of 2011. Tam has inherited Teresa’s incredible eye for the beautiful and the dramatic, and she and I have lots to natter about. In the new year Tam and I have plans to collaborate on a few special little projects and I can’t wait to get started.

A stroll through Teresa’s home gives you a good idea for just how important aesthetics are to her. Heirlooms and kitsch collectibles sit side by side, all lovingly embellished with Teresa’s trademark touch. The dressing room at The Spice Studio is also home to Terese’s collection of rescued bits and pieces – broken floral tea cups, pieces of jewels, ancient dolls, ceramics and shells – all of which find their way into her home. Hand mosaiced mirrors and embellished vases are verdant examples of Teresa’s touch. Between her and Tammy, everything they touch becomes beautiful – blooming with blossoms, jewel-encrusted and eclectic.

When you’re next in Knysna, do yourself a favour and pop in at The Spice Studio.

Call Teresa on 082 850 4874 to set up a time to go browse, and go armed with cash. Because you won’t be leaving empty handed.


I have lived in three places in my place: Knysna, Grahamstown and now Cape Town.

Cape Town, granted, is what one would call cultured – Capetonians, generally speaking, have a definite interest in aesthetics, and there are stylish individuals to be seen throughout the city. The other two are slightly more questionable.

Knysna is home to two main groups of people – those that have been there forever, and those who decided that moving to the coast would be a welcome respite from the crime and traffic in Johannesburg. The ones that have been there forever will recognise you, your offspring, and their offspring for decades to come, simply because they recognise the Chauncey nose, or the Davis ears. They also, surprisingly, are blessed with natural taste. It always seems to shock visitors to our hamlet that we aren’t all clad in tie dye and tea tree. The others – the imports – are slightly worse for the wear (pun intended). The old adage ‘money can’t buy you style’ rings true in the Garden Route, for the imports are the ones with the cash, but they’re also the ones in the Juicy Couture velour tracksuits with the French pedi’s.

Grahamstown wasn’t much more stimulating in the style department. In fact, if anything it was a vacuum in which all manner of fashion atrocities were committed, unbeknownst to the outside world. We called it ‘The Bubble’. Girls in pink Uggs and distressed denim skirts ran amok; boys in matching judrons and golf shirts strolled the streets, their torsos inflated, their legs small. It made me feel pretty good during my four year university stint there, because there was literally a handful of people that gave a toss about fashion, and I was one of them. The rest succumbed to the tracksuit epidemic, and by night, wore cowl necked synthetic tops with layered mini skirts and slip-on shoes. And I cringed.

This is the problem, you see. Having spent most of my life in places that are firmly committed to all that is casual, I didn’t gain the confidence-building exposure that city-dwellers have when it comes to dressing up. Knysnarians and Grahamstonians wear flats. Everywhere. One of the only time I ever wore heels at Rhodes was to my graduation ceremony. It got so dismal that I stopped transporting the few pairs I owned between the two casual capitals. Similarly, growing up in Knysna, there was no need for heels. We were either delightfully slumming it at Tin Roof Blues, or going for dinner at the local Waterfront. Heels earned you dark stares and even darker leers.

Cape Town has thus been truly enlightening for me. When your job involves sitting behind a monitor for most of the day, heels become a serious and tempting possibility. Not to mention clubs, exhibition openings, launches, wining ‘n dining and  of course, parties. And having the opportunity to wear dressy and outlandish clothes that I have been stockpiling since I was 15 is also the business. With this personal revolution has come a new way of looking at dressing up. Never one for Tshirts and jeans, my wardrobe is gradually being gleaned of all that is dull and quotidian. And here and there, on the streets of Cape Town and the feet of stylish girls at indie evenings all over the city, I have spotted a rising tide of heels, makeup and party dresses. Not the cotton knit, stretchathon type. The really special, glitzy vintage pieces that usually gather dust and longing looks for years; the scandalously sheer; the dangerously high.

Girls seem to be taking a stand against the quintessential Cape Town casual we’re familiar with – ballet flats and day dresses with eyeliner for clubbing; jeans and Tshirts with cardis for bar hopping. And rarely, very rarely, makeup. I am all for comfort, but can’t we make it look prettier? More interesting? More reflective of our idiosyncracies? I think so. Maybe it has to do with the rising interest and exposure to global streetstyle blogs – maybe we are all realising that the rest of the world takes to the streets looking chic, rather than comfy; interesting, rather than boring. And we want to show that Cape Town has what it takes to dress alongside the likes of style capitals like Stockholm and Milan.

Well, I’m certainly in. Let’s dress up! The next time you start dragging on your jeans and cardi for a night at the movies, think twice. Dust off your heels, slick on your Cleopatra eyes, and slink on by.

The Summit

I concluded my Christmas shopping today after realising that mall-bought gifts would just not do. Three hours into my stint at the Waterfront yesterday I was wandering aimlessly and had lost sight of the task at hand – to choose meaningful, enduring gifts that will surprise and  delight my family (as Jan Brady as that may sound). I was also dangerously close to buying a monotone polka dot romper, which goes to show that you should never shop alone for extended periods of time; lack of hydration and an overwhelming influx of stimuli do nothing but cloud one’s judgement.

And so this morning I resurrectedy my search for gifts for my brother and mom – one, I found at the Biscuit Mill, courtesy of Chloe Essery’s Blackbird label and the other, I found at Haas in the Bo Kaap. They are obviously a secret, but I will post pictures of them in situ as soon as the mistletoe is down and the mincepies are in the belly.

The Biscuit Mill was a warm seething tide of bodies cruising from one stall to the next, but we did manage to secure Alibaba lamb schwarmas and Espresso Lab lattes, and then slipped into the cool shade of the design tent. Olivia fell for an interestingly cut pinny from Take Care, and then we moved on to what I consider to be the real show stopper of the design tent, Cindy Poole’s The Summit luxury gentlemen’s wear.

In the back left corner of the tent you’ll find her artfully, thoughtfully displayed leather goods – briefcases, pocketbooks, belts and ties, all too dapper for words and with an interesting, sartorial twist to each. With such a weakness for tailored men’s clothing myself, particularly anything tuxedo-esque, I had to be gingerly pried from the bow tie section, where a tan leather bow tie on a suspender strap (R700) had captured my heart. If I still have a reasonable sum of money post-holidays, then I am going to be calling it my own in January. Otherwise, we’re looking at a lean month.

But at least I’ll be the owner of a leather bowtie on a suspender strap.

Au revoir, Carine

Carine Roitfeld, decade-long Editor and doyenne of French Vogue announced her resignation yesterday.

With the meteoric rise in fame of the super-editor (think Anna Wintour, ADR, Taylor Tomasi-Hill and Eva Fontanelli) the question on everyone’s minds is:

Who comes next?