Tag Archives: Crystal Birch

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.


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.


Look at what Miss Crystal Birch brought back for me from her Hamburg/New York adventure – a festive little Mexican darlin’ of a capelet! She told me that she bought one for herself and one for me, for fear that if she didn’t I’d try to wear hers all the time (I am notoriously persuasive when it comes to clothing and can literally charm the clothes off of friends’ backs if the need to wear a particular item strikes).

It’s not exactly right for the season, considering it was nearly 40° today, but when it’s cool again I plan to wear it over a mini with stockings, lace up ankle boots, a beret and Girl About Town lips. Yeah!

RTD 2011

Rocking the Daisies 2011 was an absolutely epic weekend of live music, happy wandering, old and new faces, bare skin and hours spent blissed out and floating around a dam with a cocktail in hand.

If you are yet to experience the hippiesque radiance of this festival, you best get your derriere there next year. I truly believe that there’s something about it that makes each and every person in attendance the best possible version of themselves for one hot, groove-filled weekend.

{Do yourself a favour and check out Shadowclub, a Joburg-based band that was easily my festival favourite. Rockabilly style, Brylcreemed hair, mad moves and Josh Homme undertones. Yes. Please. Tumi & the Volume, Jon Savage & the Nomads and, of course, Band of Skulls, get a mention for bringing it, too.}

High Places

Having talented and like-minded friends is so underrated. Yesterday I posted about Kate and Alix-Rose’s City Hall ball, and today I get to post about Crystal’s deliciously dark styling collaboration with local photographer, Kristin-Lee Moolman.

The pair have worked their asses off on a number of breathtaking shoots of late, of which this one, Carmen, is a great example. It was published just yesterday by online magazine, Hellion. Their model, Carmen-Lee Solomons, is evidently so compelling that the editorial needed only bear her name. And you can see why – her cultishly lush features are reminiscent of anime heroines – cartoon cute charged with about a million volts of hot. Add to that a parade of luxe, stand-out designer pieces and a gloriously noir texture and you’ve got some real drama.

A number of the designer pieces are from Afraid of Mice, who stock pre-owned vintage the likes of Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu that make my erratic Biscuit Mill trips just slightly painful. The real scene-stealers, though, are Oriel Barnard’s ultra glamorous Lisp pieces. The catsuit is my personal favourite – it’s Gaga meets Rihanna meets Jack White’s fantasy girl – auburn-haired, doe-eyed and nothing but black, white and red.

Crystal and Kristin-Lee are also due to style and photograph Stiaan Louw’s new online store images in the next few weeks before Crystal embarks on her transatlantic adventure.

Go go go, girls.


Yesterday I took the edge off my post-Gazelle hangover with a little visit to Miss Crystal Birch‘s farewell sale at her house in Vredehoek.

Crystal is a great friend of mine and she also happens to be a totally visionary stylist and milliner. She’s jetting off to Hamburg at the beginning of June on a whirlwind styling jaunt, followed by another in New York. The past few months have been spent clocking up more shoots than you can count with amazing photographers and models from all over the world, and always in true Crystal style: haphazard, high speed, transcendent. One afternoon she’d have a trio of topless Dutch and Estonian waifs jumping on her unmade bed, the next she’d be scooting around the city in search of pirate boots, tassels or fake fruit. The girl is a miracle. And our fortuitous meeting has been mutually beneficial to us both on so many levels – as friends, as fashion lovers, and as sisters who are doin’ it for themselves. Yes, I just said that.

Keen to offload some of the many mad things she accumulates through her styling, she hosted a sale (featuring a rail of gems from The Rah-Rah Room). I popped by to say hello and show my moral support, but inevitably, I ended up departing with a few things for myself. Including this epic darling of a striped sweatshirt, which has enough personality for fifteen sweatshirts! Super wide and cropped with tight sleeves and an irresistible funnel neck, it’s so visually witty, I just had to have it. I want to wear it over my new red and white striped H&M frock – a beauteous stripe overload. Its width calls for something really sleek, so the uber fitted H&M stripe will be perfect. I also like the idea of the two primary colours together, as well as the profusion of different stripes. There’s nothing like print with print, right?

I also left with a black mesh dress that is entirely transparent and which no doubt had a pair of glorious Brazilian breasts pressed against it quite recently… I don’t plan to wear it like that, but I do think it will work well with some interesting layers. My final purchase was a little white blouse with geometric cut outs and an unusual hemline. The pictures I took of them didn’t do them justice, so I will post them once they have been incorporated into an ensemble.

PS: I had a request from a reader to do more outfit posts, so this is me trying to do just that. I do feel slightly awkward about things like the truly 21st century ‘self photo’, but I am unfortunately mired with a flatmate who also happens to be my brother. The same brother that rolls his eyes when I ask him to take a snapshot of me, and whose idea of a good angle is my idea of hideous. I really need a gung-ho, snaphappy friend with an epic camera permanently on hand, like all those other bloggers out there! Until then I will surrender to being a 97% 21st century kind of a girl (in 20th century vintage).


I’ve blogged about my genius milliner/stylist friend Crystal Birch many times before – here and here and here . But you can consider this an official punt.

One of her hats is featured in this month’s issue of Elle Decoration, alongside two other ‘rising fashion stars’, David West and Christopher Strong (two of my other local favourites). For some reason they got her name oh so wrong, which freaks me out. Especially since the spelling they chose is closer to Chrysler than it is to Crystal, but let’s just assume that all they were thinking about was how this talented girl is blossoming into an export that we can’t not acknowledge… a chrysalis, perhaps?

I like it! Because she is butterfly-like – colourful, intriguing and individual. Remember this name.