Saturday night brought on heaps of anxiety, as well as large amounts of excitement. The moment we all spent endless hours preparing for had finally arrived, and we knew it would be over before there was even a full chance to acknowledge it.
I paused to collect my thoughts only briefly in a chair at Salon Myo. There was an hour left until doors opened at the Belly Up and I was shocked at the sight I saw before me in the mirror. I had long, black hair extensions that went down to my belly button. My pale Irish skin was lightly tinted and aglow from the spray-on tan I had gotten earlier that day. And my makeup was caked on heavily, my eyes looking larger than ever with fake eyelashes attached. I rarely even remember to brush my hair in the morning and I typically only wear makeup once or twice a week. And the spray-on tan? Well that was entirely out of character. I was staring at a very different version of myself in the mirror, but I was intrigued by the transformation.
Preparing for this night has taken a great amount of my time in the past month.
So much so that this is the second time I’m writing about it in my column, because frankly, very little else has been on my mind as of late. Often times during the month, friends would ask me why I decided to get involved in such an intense project since it was taking up so much of my free time. I suppose part of the reason was because I was excited to get on a stage and strut my stuff. But really, I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to be involved in something this extensive. For me, it was a privilege, not a chore.
We spent night after night mastering the choreography, memorizing our blocking and familiarizing ourselves with the music. But getting to know our characters and the story behind them was the real challenge for me, and the real reward. Each person had a story from the emotionally abusive bad boy to the shy girl overcoming depression. It centered on all of our struggles, but showed how community, love and acceptance could help to ease those struggles.
I took on the character of the loner, the outcast that got bullied. Part of the reason that character was incorporated into the show was because of one of the beneficiaries, the Aspen Hope Center, a nonprofit in the Roaring Fork Valley that works to help those in emotional crisis and to decrease the stigma of mental illness. The Hope Center has found that bullying is a large problem in schools in the area. Volunteers and employees from the center spend a lot of time talking to children and teenagers about ways to prevent it. I hadn’t experienced much bullying when I was young, however, as I began to take on the role of the loner, I started to feel like this character, recoiling in front of a large group when they stared at me and often staying oddly quiet during rehearsals.
Others came alive in their characters. Some had never even been on stage before and were down to their bras and underwear in front of a captive audience, shaking their asses confidently. No matter the person’s story, I was so impressed with how we were all able to own our characters, taking on both their weaknesses and their strengths.
We are lucky to have such a philanthropic-minded community. A list I received a few months ago from the Aspen Community Foundation has more than 400 nonprofit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley on it. There are endless opportunities to get involved and make a difference. This particular mission, Aspen Cares, benefitted Aspen Hope Center, Telluride AIDS Benefit, WestCap, AspenOut and Aspen Community Health.
By the time the show was over on Saturday, we were all on cloud nine. Adrenaline and excitement were high and we were eager to celebrate together. It felt so rewarding to see how 30-plus people started as individuals and ended the evening coalesced together as one supportive unit. We had found love and acceptance in a group of young Aspenites who had little idea what they were getting into when they auditioned a month ago for a fashion show.
More so than the cast growing together, we helped to identify and support organizations that have made it their mission to help people overcome mental and sexual struggles similar to the ones we presented on stage.
I felt lucky to be a part of the show because it reiterated something to me that I often forget: Love and friendship have the power to conquer all.
I hope our audience was able to take that away from the evening as well.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/plus-size-formal-dresses
It is this ability to adapt and change form that has inspired fashion designer Lara Klawikowski’s latest range.
“Fungi has a way of morphing its texture and silhouette to a certain shape in an unpredictable and unexpected way. That has always been a signature of my brand… nothing folds in a way that it should but it folds exactly how it should, ending up being a beautiful and structural piece,” she says.
Klawikowski will be showcasing her range at the annual Wear SA gala dinner, “Fashion and all that Jazz” on Thursday. Held ahead of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival at the weekend, the affair is part of the Wear South African campaign that encourages support for locally produced products.
I meet Klawikowski at her studio in Woodstock where she is working on her range that involves six different looks.
The futuristic-looking dresses, in colours such as red and yellow, are made of tracksuit cord sewn into chiffon.
“Adding cord into a delicate fabric such as chiffon completely alters the shape. Normally chiffon is floatly, but with the cord it becomes very structural and very sculptural, moulding itself into a unique shape. It has an organic feel on the inside and outside,” she says.
“I’m very excited to see how people will respond to these dresses. They’re not something you see every day at stores or even on runways.”
The designs are for that fashion-forward thinking woman with the ability to style the garments in different looks, Klawikowski explains. “She is definitely aware of what local designers are doing and is willing to take a risk. If she wears this, people are going to stare. Also, the designs are for someone who is quite informed and who enjoys talking about fashion in a constructive way. A person with an understanding of garmenting and fabrication, (with) a deeper understanding of design.”
Also taking part in the fashion show are other emerging designers, Ernest Mahomane and Ricci Janse van Rensburg of Ricci JvR, and design schools, Cape Town College of Fashion Design and Northlink College.
For her showcase, Ricci JvR says she drew inspiration from the nomadic lifestyle.
“The inspiration for this collection can be summarised in one word – ‘Resfeber’, a Swedish word describing the restless race of the traveller's heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a ‘travel fever’ that can manifest as an illness.
“For me it is all about combining textures… Layering and textures are extremely important.”
Ricci JvR focused on comfortable clothing, layered and styled effortlessly.
“The silhouettes are relaxed, soft and draped with roomy, romantic volume,” she says. “I don’t design for a specific body type or person… the design process and realisation of each piece is important. Therefore, I focus on individual pieces at a time. I do, however, try to design diverse pieces, ensuring that no matter your taste, you would find something in the collection that would suit your style.”
Ricci JvR says more and more people now support local designers.
“I think this shift came largely because more effort was made to inform the public of the talent that we have in South Africa and the benefits of buying locally,” she says.
“Also, with a lot of international designers looking to Africa for inspiration, it has definitely boosted the overall image of the industry. There are so many different factors and opinions that contribute and influence this, but I think creating awareness is the best place to promote local designers.”
To this end, the designers, as part of the Wear SA campaign, will also be staging fashion shows at different shopping malls across the city until the end of April.
“A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to attend fashion weeks… This is a way of letting everyone else see the work that local designers are producing,” says Klawikowski. “I would like to see more South Africans buying local products… as something that they can wear, that can be part of their lives and lifestyle. The Wear SA campaign is a excellent platform to promote local designers to South Africans.”
Joburg designer Ernest Mahomane says “People don’t buy international brands because they are better than our local brands. International brands put up massive campaigns for their products and all you see are those ads… to a point that you would think local brands do not exist.
“This is when we need to get big businesses investing in our local talent and using the same strategy. The more people are confronted by local brands, the more they will buy them. Big businesses should give a helping hand to new talent – not by offering small prizes in creativity competitions, but by offering business mentorship and financial support.”
For his showcase on Thursday, Mahomane has put together a range that is “simple, wearable… keeping the everyday woman in mind”.
“I definitely didn’t want a heavy look, but at the same time I wanted it to look layered. And when it comes to fabric, nothing comes as durable and as comfortable as cotton. Most of the range is made from locally produced cotton,” he says.
Explaining the link between fashion and jazz, Herman Pillay, chief executive of the Trade Call Investments Apparel Group, the creative hub for designers and clothing manufacturers, says that the liberation of fashion through music started in the early 1900s during the post-war economic boom.
“In the 1920s the new evolving American youth culture led the way to an increase in consumer demand for fashion. The conservative, mannequin-like, tightly corseted fashion sense of the late 1800s was in desperate need of radical transformation. Jazz music ignited the fuel for loose flimsy fabrics and fits that would allow the wearer to flow into the rhythm of the music,” says Pillay.
“The blues, ragtime and swing jazz styles brought about a fresh and unique form of art that depicted the collaboration of jazz and fashion which still exists on our catwalks today.”
According to Khalid Abdulla, acting chief executive of ESPAfrika, the event managers and producers of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Wear SA Fashion show and gala dinner perfectly complement the total offering of the jazz festival weekend.
“We are very proud to be associated with the fashion show and gala dinner and believe that this event, like the established jazz festival, will become another highlight on Cape Town’s fashion calendar,” he says.Read more at:MarieAustralia formal dresses 2014
Designs are everywhere
From left: Neeta Ambani, her daughter Isha Ambani, Shabana Azmi and Sonakshi Sinha, and Saif Ali Khan (second from right) and Karisma Kapoor (third from right) at the closing runway show of Fashion Week in Mumbai
THE grand finale of the fashion week will be remembered for some wrong reasons, and plenty of good ones. The diarist is witness to the camaraderie shared by some of the biggest names in the business, especially in the backdrop of the last minute change in the venue and the consequent chaos. Rohit Bal, for instance, was completely hands-on with the preps, setting up the ramp for his fellow designer from Kolkata. So was Narendra Kumar, who, along with Bal, was intent on letting the show go on. Nari gets another thumbs up for his spontaneous samaritan act. During the finale, one of the background models, who was meant to take position near the brand signage, appeared to have fainted. Nari, who was one of the few to have spotted her, rushed in to help her with the medical attention she needed. All this when all eyes was on the show stopper. We liked that.
Skeletons and closets
SO this former minister, who is now in the eye of a major controversy that has cast an ominous shadow on his career, may have to brace himself for yet another scandal blowing up on his face. The diarist has learnt that during his tenure with an international organisation in the West, he had a two-year-long rollicking affair with an artiste with an exotic lineage. The affair may have ended when the gent was chosen for a more serious political role back in his country, but the artiste is not willing to forget or forgive in a hurry. We hear, details of the said affair may be made public very soon. Once that happens, this bambi-eyed former bureaucrat may need the help of some serious spin doctors.
Eat, pray, love
IT seemed like a happy bunch of ladies, who were out to lunch at a suburban five-star. Susanne, Gayatri Oberoi, Sonali Bendre and a couple of their gal pals, truly let their hair down over a leisurely lunch. There was plenty of laughter and good natured banter that accompanied the salads and soups and sandwiches. And in case you are wondering, they were not really discussing the men in their lives or their absence. Well done.
THE pav bhaji is going places. Word just in, the dapper Siddharth Poojari, who heads the Sukh Sagar chain of restaurants is one of the food partners for the classy Dubai Tennis Open. Not only that, Poojari, whose Amrut Whiskey has been turning hard nosed connoisseurs of fine whiskey into converts, has reportedly partnered up with an international luxury brand. Watch this space for more.
PS: Congratulations are in order for Anoushka Shankar and Joe Wright who became proud parents to their second baby boy last month. The couple have named their child Mohan. Their elder son has been named Zubin. Anoushka's half sister Norah Jones too gave birth to a boy last year.Read more at:www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2015 | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-brisbane