Monthly Archives: March 2011

‘It’s an Alaia.’

I stumbled upon these 1980’s Azzedine Alaia adverts and I just love them. They really speak to the fullblown glamour and excesses of that era, and to the more shapely icons of that time – the original supermodels (Cindy, Eva, Christy, etc) and personalities like Grace Jones, Tina Turner and Naomi Campbell.

Tunisian born Alaia grew up with a fascination for the female form, and his taste for glamour was fuelled by his fashion-loving twin sister and pilfered copes of Vogue. Clasically trained as a sculptor, Alaia relocated to Paris and evolved from a humble dressmaker’s assistant into one of the most sought after designers of the 1980’s. Along the way he held posts at heavyweight fashion houses Dior, Thierry Mugler and Guy Laroche.

His slinky, sensual clothing appealed to a select group of fashion-forward celebrities, including Grace Jones (who can be seen wearing his creations in classic Studio 54 snaps), Madonna, Janet Jackson, Brigitte Nielsen and Carine Roitfeld.

His successes under his own label led to a partnership with Prada, and it is said that, despite this agreement, Alaia still maintained a level of independence and integrity no longer often seen in the fashion industry. It is often the case when designers sign licencing deals with bigger groups (Halston is a good example), that the original brand is snuffed out and diluted. In 2007 Alaia succesfully bought his house and brand name back from Prada. He continues to show collections, but only as and when he has something to show.

In other words, Alaia is not interested in producing collections each season simply to drive sales and marketing. In this sense, he stays true to a kind of creativity and commitment to quality not often seen these days.

It reminds me a little of the fierce and fraught hold Valentino has over the Valentino group (as seen in The Last Emperor, which I mused on here). For Alaia, it seems, it is more about building something lasting and thus valuable, irrespective of popular demand. In The Last Emperor we see the effects that corporate control has over fashion houses in the massive popularity of ‘it-bags’ and other accessories – belts, purses, keyrings and more. Items like these make up a huge part of these big houses’ revenues. Not exactly novelty items, but certainly not couture.

And with this democratization of the brand comes another phenomenon… Designer vintage becomes more and more valuable, hearkening back to a time when each stitch counted, and when it wasn’t so much about production as it was about creation.

And so when Cher Horowitz is held up at gunpoint in Clueless and asked to lie down on the pavement and count to 100 and she says, in a shrill voice and with big eyes ‘But it’s an Alaia!’ we all feel her pain. That mini wasn’t vintage then, but it is now, and Alaia’s commitment to his craft has ensured that his vision will be preserved for many years to come.



Tears for Foals

Foals‘ live rendition of Tears for Fears’ classic Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

Soothing sounds for a Tuesday afternoon. Sounds like lying on your back looking at those patterns water reflects onto the ceiling during Summer.

{Thanks Maximus}

21 days

That’s the short period of time separating me from my first trip to London and – hold me back – my first encounter with Portobello, Oxford Circus and Spitalfields. If I wasn’t so busy I’d be bouncing off the walls. At least once I day I announce very loudly to whomever cares to listen that I am going to London and Istanbul very, very soon! People are still being tolerant. I give it a week before the eye-rolling commences.

Winter clearance sales are in full swing, and I’ve been doing some browsing. Top of my list is some kind of cape, anything velvet, some excellent tights and a couple of pairs of envy-inducing bootlings. Watch out. I’m gonna come back laden!

These are some of the beauties taking up space in the glorious ASOS Winter clearance sale (you may need to break out the ol’ credit card on this one).

Way cool

A very large picture of me, yes. But with good reason!

My blog and my Rah-Rah have received some great coverage recently. 

Local blog I heart your outfit, run by the lovely and talented Emily Pettit-Coetzee and Liza-Jayne West, gave the Rah-Rah Room a little love last week – check it out here.

And then I was interviewed by one of my favourite magazines, VISI, to be profiled on their blog. I have to say it: stoked! To me, VISI is worldclass,  stylish and a benchmark for other local magazines. I was interviewed by Remy Raitt, and she said some really cool things about me, my love of vintage and my future plans to infiltrate Vogue. Check the full post (and this  rather large picture of me) out here. VISI have just relaunched their blog, and it rocks. Follow them.

Go Rah.

Thanks to all the cool and colourful girls (and boy) that came to The Rah-Rah Room this weekend – I loved meeting you all and spending a little time talking vintage and other lovely frivolities.

If you didn’t make it this weekend (Toffie, Jazz Festival, hangover, in-laws), there are still some gems to call your own! The lovely Miss Crystal Birch kindly obliged to model some of the left over favourites for me in a high-speed mini shoot that we snapped yesterday evening. My brother, Tyler, also begrudgingly posed for one measly menswear picture. For this, I thank him.

If something catches your eye, please feel free to email me at or give me a call on 082 855 6969 to set up a little browsing time.

Lilac ruched one-piece R60.00

Pastel silk trousers R180.00

White high-waisted skirt with button detail R100

Striped nautical T-shirt R60.00

Leather backpack R650.00

Hermes scarf R500.00

Black peachskin stirrup trousers R120.00

Two-tone print shirt R110.00

Crytal Birch fascinator R120.00

Baby blue high-waisted shorts R80.00

Feather print shirt R70.00

Grey Ralph Lauren jersey R120.00

Cream pussybow blouse R80.00

Red Escada trousers R350.00

Black sequinned Antik Batik jacket R500.00

Bleached Barrington jeans R110.00

Crystal Birch bow headpiece R40.00

Black velvet trousers R170.00

Black, gold & psychedelic evening top R120.00

Grey and pink striped frock R130.00

Psychedelic peacock scarf R200.00

White military detail shirt R90.00

Silk oatmeal skirt R130.00

Black bowtie R40.00

Red wrap frock R110.00

Classic Levi’s denim jacket R200.00

Paisley cravat R60.00

Printed scarf R120.00

Art Deco earrings R50.00

Men’s plaid shirt R70.00

Polka dot bowtie R40.00

Go-Go Rah-Rah!

Don’t forget to come get your vintage fix at my Rah-Rah weekend!

This evening from 5 until 7pm, and tomorrow morning from 10 until 2pm. If you’re in the mood to browse and lounge, bring along a bottle of vino and we can have ourselves a pre-party Friday pow-wow! If, however, you’re in the mood for a more leisurely look, bring your lattes and post-payday purses for a little peruse tomorrow.

Yes, that’s some impressive alliteration right there.



Nowness: Advanced Style

Nowness is one of my favourite resources for inspiration.

Their narratives explore all different aspects of luxury and style, and often yield surprising and moving insights about the world we live in.

This short film, Advanced Style, is a visual ode to older women and icons that adore clothing and fashion; who exude a passion for sartorialism that is infectious, and whose collections of clothing are nothing short of miraculous. Nowness calls it a ‘Lesson in Sartorial Splendour’.

And splendour is the perfect word. These women are like exotic birds – eccentric, essential, addicted. They urge younger women to ‘go start playing’ when it comes to fashion, to dress according to mood and whim, and to ‘not sweat it’ when it comes to growing older. It builds character. I hope to be a fraction as fabulous as the woman that says this from behind her epic sunglasses and from beneath an outlandish hat.

The film is directed by Lina Plioplyte and produced by Ari Seth Cohen, photographer and founder of the Advanced Style blog, an ongoing tribute to older women with style. There are clearly many lessons for younger women to learn – lessons about living, dressing and not taking things too seriously.

Read a short interview with Cohen on the film here.