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.
Posted in designers, fashion, South African fashion
Tagged antonia steyn, Cape Town, chloe andrea, Crystal Birch, crystal birch stylist, day of the dead, dia de los muertos, dossier, fashion, ida elsje, katryn kruger, local fashion, Maya Prass, nandi fourie, one league, South Africa
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!
I’m lusting after these glamorous, fan-shaped clutches by local label Missibaba.
They’re so Bianca Jagger at Studio54-esque, and y’all know I’m a sucker for a) all out sequinning b) tassels and c) little bags that are just big enough for my Russian Red, cellphone and keys.
Which is your favourite?
It used to be that wearing clothing emblazoned with labels was cool – it spoke of value, taste and wealth. And somehow it seemed that this wealth was inextricably linked to this taste and this value. Money = taste = value. A strange deduction to make; easily dismantled by the old adage, oft employed in conjunction with a wistful shake of the head: ‘Money can’t buy you style’. White t-shirts shouted Calvin Klein! Armani Exchange! Diesel! Fiorucci! It was indeed the 90s, and the logo t-shirt was in its hey day. If you didn’t have one you might as well not have been a 90210 fan. You might as well have ditched your frayed denim cut-offs and your black choker with the heart pendant. Without said logo they’d look cheap. Like they came from nowhere. If it didn’t have a label it was nothing.
Somehow, some way, things have evolved. I’ve started to notice less and less obvious branding gracing the chests of t-shirts and the derrieres of jeans. Absence of label, ironically, has come to signal exactly what its polar opposite did in the 90s: wealth, value and most importantly, taste. I grew up with a mother that steered me away from branding of any kind. ‘Don’t get the printed one,’ she’d say, ‘it looks cheap’. My natural predisposition towards one offs developed into a love of vintage at a young age, meaning that labels only symbolised homogeny to me. Labels were for the masses.
The gradual shift in attitude towards labels is fascinating to me. Huge chain stores are abandoning brash branding and opting for unadorned chests, sleeves and backs. Why? So that they can be taken seriously alongside other labels. So that no one knows where it came from. Is that not the biggest irony of all? In a way it is refreshing: the cut of a garment and the fabric it is made of must now speak for themselves. Cheap, ill-fitting white t-shirts can no longer hide behind big, rhinestone-studded names. Clothing must stand up and be counted.
Not only does this shift mark a change in our psychology as consumers, it also heralds a dawning of fashion consciousness that countries like South Africa have never seen before. As retailers wisen up to the fact that the masses have more access to trends than ever before, they begin to cater to a more fashion savvy audience.
In a country where value for money is an imperative, it really is a revolution. It’s a sign that consumers, collectively, expect more from brands. And that what most people are looking for is true value – unadorned, unembellished and authentic.
Charlotte Linton, whose inspired scarves and RTW collections I fawned over here and here, has produced yet another lookbook that has me plotting artful turbans and on the hunt for the perfect, mysterious shade of emerald.
The S/S 2012 collection sees Ermantrude, Linton’s fictional muse, sail to Java to study the threatened Javan Rhinoceros and the birds of the Krakatau islands.
‘Whilst there,’ says Linton, Ermantrude ‘learns of the rich culture of the Sundanese people, researching the Wayang theatre, and the beautiful batik textiles. She also makes notes of her observations of night dwelling mammals, such as the ghostly flying squirrel and the fishing cat.’
The palette of bold, primary colours mixes with flashes of light through trees, verdant greens and ripe limes. Unusually, my magpie eye is drawn to the idiosyncratic monotone scarf – I’m dying to get a closer looks at Ermantrude’s impressions of the Javanese people and the creatures they cohabit with. Charlotte’s narratives give her collections context that transports them straight to the jungles of Java and the peaks of the Himalayas. When they return with Ermantrude from her travels they are imbued with the perfume of foreign lands, hands and custom. Truly special.
Charlotte’s latest collection consists of a mix of wool and silk scarves. The silk is, of course, my ultimate.
Lately I’ve been mixing my silver and gold jewellery together.
It used to freak me out, but I find myself gravitating more and more towards pieces that deliberately intermingle the two – a kind of pimping, metallic mash-up. I’ve always delighted in irreverently fake looking stuff, like piles of brash, yellow gold chains, and rock-sized rings, so the more crass, the better. I still have my silver and gold neck pieces separately, but they live next door to each other, like neighbours that meet for tea (or tequila) every now and then.
Local designer (and friend) Megan Fogarty from Oh Dear Megan just published sneak peeks of her summer jewellery collection, and they’re playing straight into my little low-fi, high-shine obsession.