A few weekends back über-PR Glamazonians Jenna and Jacqui McArthur invited me to attend what was by far the hottest ticket in fashion this year for about 150 fashion insiders and members of the media who gathered to celebrate the much-anticipated opening of Salon 58, Jackie Burger’s new venture. Yes, to be clear there have been a few fashion industry events before and since this one but they are never as exclusive or centred around anything other than posing and preening for fellow instagrammers and bloggers.

Doyenne and woman of the moment, Jackie Burger just before the launch of Salon 58. “I have been planning this day for three years,” she said. “As everyone knows, I am an admirer of Coco Chanel, not just for her fashion but because she was a woman who was not afraid to take risks. Salon 58 is the expression of one of my dreams, to create ‘some place of magic’, as she once said, where we can kick off our shoes and connect while enjoying one of life’s ultimate pleasures, that of good company.”

Guests were treated to a fashion show with a difference featuring South African women who have each built a powerful brand based on their originality and style. They were Anet Pienaar Vosloo, Jena Dover, Jess van Wyk, Doreen de Waal, Pnina Fenster, Jenna Bruwer, Lizma Van Zyl, Lindiwe Suttle, Leonie Von Hase and Asanda Sizani. Also on display was the Salon 58 x PICHULIK series of striking portraits shot by photographer Kristin-Lee Moolman. They show Anet Pienaar Vosloo, Jenna Bruwer, Doreen De Waal, Juanita Daniel, Jackie Burger, Mellissa Muringani and Lindiwe Suttle wearing once-off earrings created by jewellery designer Katherine-Mary Pichulik.

Suttle opened the morning’s event with a heart wrenchingly emotive and haunting rendition of La Vie en Rose accompanied by Stanislav Angelov on the accordion. My arms still prickle with Goosebumps when I think of how talented this woman is and wish we would see more of her. The show at the same time served as the launch of designer Elaine du Plessis’ new label, Drotsky, and included a navy pinstripe suit consisting of flowing wide-legged trousers and an off-the-shoulder top, loose black trousers with a draped cream raw silk top with concertina pleats, a floor-sweeping wine-red column dress made from a heavy knit and a flowing white cotton shirt dress. All the garments were representative of Du Plessis’ design aesthetic that encompasses classic cuts, quality fabrics and immaculate detailing.

Milliner Dean Pozniak is currently working with Burger to create a signature hat to be called the Jackie Burger, a process he calls “a labour of love”. Burger, who is known as a tireless champion of new design talent, will showcase carefully selected items such as these at the salon where she will host one-on-one tête-à-têtes (personal style consultations) too. Also on the calendar are seven soirees per year, each with its own theme and collaborators. Saturday’s event doubled as the first such soiree for 2015.

Stellenbosch’s historic PJ Olivier Arts Centre, where Salon 58 has its offices, proved to be the perfect setting for the relaxed, stylish event that Burger described as “a gathering of friends”.

“Although salons are a new concept in South Africa, they have been around in Europe since the 17th century. In a time when women did not have much scope for self-expression, salons provided them with opportunities to learn, be creative and simply to converse about matters other than the daily grind, things that they find interesting and stimulating. In a similar way, Salon 58 will be a type of ‘live magazine’ that provides edited and curated content to encourage women to express themselves in new ways,” says Burger of the salon concept. “An essential part of this is a woman’s personal style and fashion sense.”

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