Showing posts from March, 2018

Trade Beads

How did Coco Chanel put it? There are colours and there are non-colours. The latter are black and white and they are the most elegant. You can do everything with black. I combined a simple black dress with a necklace of bright blue trade beads, a blue belt and a blue felt handbag. The black accentuates the blue strikingly.

When I am in Cape Town I always look for trade beads. Some are hundreds of years old and date back to the times when Venice was dominating the commerce with Africa. Nowadays we associate glass beads with African handicraft. Strangely enough they first moved the other way. They were shipped from Europe to Africa as payment for African goods like ivory and precious wood. The skill to make beads from coloured glass came from Italy. I love to wear these tokens of a to- and-fro between Europe and Africa.

I had found the green one in Victoria. The small Zimbabwean town is closest to the mighty Victoria falls. Mosi-oa-Tunya, The Smoke that Thunders are they called by the…

Forever New

Who would not like to be 'Forever New'. The name of that clothing chain store suggest that you are always up to date at least fashion wise. Is it Australian or Indian or South African? Who cares. I came across their store at the Tygervalley Centre in Durbanville. It first attracted me because of the similarity with Forever 21 which I had encountered in Tokyo’s fashion district Omotesandō recommended to me by my Swiss friend’s designer son who uses to buy silks in the side lanes. The name of the shop brought a nostalgic smile onto my face. I certainly cannot claim to belong to their target group at least not until eternal youth will be invented. Forever New enticed me to have a look, though. Even at 80+ you could connect. There will always be a bright new day. That’s what the French daily Le Figaro is suggesting every Monday in their fashion column Neuf comme un lundi / New Like a Monday.

My new look had to be light blue like the sky on a sunny morning. I chose a swinging stri…

China Meets Haute Couture

No better way to combine an evening dress made of vintage duchesse with rose applications from the now defunct Berlin Haute Couture label Schwichtenberg with a plushy tightly fitting spencer from a street market in Shanghai's cavernous underground. Berlin-Friedrichstrasse meets Shanghai Metro. After I had succeeded in crossing the murderous traffic on the street leading to my subway station without being run over I dived into the never ending underground shopping lanes. Sheer bliss! Fortune readers rubbed shoulders with high fashion and with mouth watering delicacies.  The old fashioned Schwichtenberg bolero is getting a new life with jeans and a slightly crumpled shirt.

Irma Stern and I

Her Jewish family emigrated from pre-war Germany to South Africa where she became one of the best known painters of her time. The elegant lady with the flower bouquet on Irma Stern’s aquarelle reminds me of my mother’s Berlin youth when all the office girls wore gloves and every season a new hat. In our more casual times you have to dress up to match. I chose powdery pink accessories and a light grey tulle skirt from Naf Naf, France to be on par with Irma’s lady.

Irma Stern was one of the first artists from South Africa to travel to other African countries. Her portraits of African women and Middle Eastern merchants made her famous. 

A New Take on Batik

Somehow I was never all too keen about batik. I thought it is just a piece of fabric with blurred colours which is quite complicated to produce given the poor result. Even after I had bought on a whim of a batik summer dress in Penang, I didn't investigate further. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Then I came upon an arts school in Yogyakarta dedicated to batik as a form of art. Their exhibits got me hooked. There was the volcano Mérapi among the rice paddies and the farmers working their fields. Some of Java's vulcanos are still active. They are as beautiful as they are dangerous. I witnessed the devastation caused by the latest outbreak of a vulcano near Jodjakarta. 

On the blue image people are going about their daily business on the market surrounding an elephant and passing a pagoda. These markets are no fairy …

Clever Klûk

Cape Town's star designer Klûk doesn`t need much to make you look elegant. In German his name sounds like a message meaning clever. He can clad you in a minimalistic slightly body hugging piece of sand couloured fabric. That’s it. The cut makes the master designer.

For a casual outing add a light blue or a pale pink jacket like I did at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town’s striking brand new gallery of African art. It evolved in a former silo around the collection of Jochen Zeitz the former owner of Puma.

Take the same dress in black und you get a different look. Chloé's blouse from Zürich nicely underlines the black-and-white theme. Te Swiss designer Oscar Rom ade it for the French Haute Couture house.

Deconstructed Dirndl

A dirndl is a most com

Flowery Flow

No Cape Doctor today. The wind that is blowing nearly constantly from the sea in summer is taking a rest. Instead one of the hottest days in Cape Town. I shall have to dress up for a garden party. Thank goodness I bought a whiff of a chiffon wrapper at topshop some time ago in sultry Singapore. A silken underskirt is doubling as summer dress and I am ready to brave the heat.

Fast forward and the same heat a couple of months later at a lunch party in the French countryside. There seems to be no escape nowadays. The wrapper stayed behind in Cape Town and would definitely not have been appropriate for the pasta feast at the Dordogne, anyway. I stick to the flowery flow, this time in the avatar of a vintage dress from a brocante in Marmande.

These charming flea markets are a popular pastime for the French. Every weekend in summer one or the other small town will put out tables and neighbours will bring their grandfather's clock, a shining copper bowl for making jam, a pair of glass…

Charmer Goethe

German’s national poet had a reputation as a womanizer in his time. His poems on beautiful females are legend. As a septuagenarian he was thinking of getting engaged to Ulrike von Levetzow at her tender age of seventeen years.

A friend presented me with the Goethe puppet. I am still wondering what his intentions may have been. When Goethe is looking at me with his piercing brown eyes I try to be in form. A classic low cut black dress, black-and-white pearls and a light overcoat seem appropriate.

Is he following me or am I following him from the University of his home town Frankfurt where he adorns the wall of the foyer to the Maltese-German Circle in Malta? Who knows.

Ich bin bei dir, / du bist mir nah, / und seist auch noch so ferne!

At Home in my Tent

I could wear that dress from morning to evening.
It is the most comfortable wraparound and it fits
even for going out to a dinner with friends. A lady
I met at a vernissage in Cape Town even asked me
where I got it from. She had worked in the fashion
industry, so she said. I had to admit that it is not a
special brand.

Amazingly enough it came from an insignificant
shop in a suburb and is a no-name Made in China.
I don’t mind. I just love my tent of a dress. And
the fashion conscious lady didn't mind either.                             I got the blue version for her.