So here’s a little-known fact about my history with Jackie Burger: many years ago a senior marketing manager of a global luxury brand, while impressed with my curriculum vitae at one point asked me outright in the interview: “if I were to call Jackie Burger, what would she say about you?” Needless to say, I didn’t get the job with the company and it was through no fault of Ms Burger’s that she hadn’t heard of me. I did manage to go on and work as a consultant successfully for many years with the brand afterwards however that question remained with me. As Gatsby believed in the green light, so I believed in Jackie.
But now, six years later I find myself at my second Salon58 soirée entitled #AwakenWinter hosted at the PJ Olivier Centre of Arts. For those not in the know, every few months South Africa’s doyenne of style gathers the best and brightest of fashion, music and art together for intimate conversations around particular themes intended to enrich and enliven and challenge the invited guests to think of something more than just the now. And in true style, it was as if Ms Burger herself had whispered in the right ear that the Oak lined roads of Stellenbosch changed their canopy almost overnight and walkways and roads were carpeted in luxe shades of gold, rust and ochre enchanting the town.
For me, AwakenWinter was a call for inner reflection during the months of winter, to take stock of where and who we are. Like a gardener who prunes and hacks at dead brush that has died off in the cold, semi-dark months to make way for spring’s new shoots of growth this soirée was Ms Burger’s way of hacking and pruning some of our old thinking shaped by experiences and ideas and brought us into the light. Whether it was the dedication by Yvette de Villiers or Abigail Rands (of TRENDTank) but their words articulated something that has resonated with me for some time now: take the time to slow down and that sometimes the process is more important than the product.
I’m not sure if it was the harvest table by Abigail Donnelly, whose culinary genius I have missed since leaving Woolworths seven months ago, celebrating the farm to fork principal of heritage vegetables and recipes of slow-cooking quality ingredients enhancing the flavours and layering them in combinations that are reminiscent of childhoods spent at the table on your grandmother’s farm or rare dance performance by Kristin Wilson that invoked nature and our role within the cycle of life but the idea that we are an evolving sentient discovering our own way in life stuck with me for the remainder of the afternoon and late into the evening.
Salon58 #AwakenWinter was also a celebration of street fashion, a style that perhaps Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele herself pioneered with that iconic photograph by Mario Testino of Michaela Bercu in Christian Lacroix couture and jeans which scandalised and shocked the world of fashion back in 1993. Now denim has become such a staple of any wardrobe, couture or otherwise, that it is hard to remember that Levi Strauss were the original. These days it’s about mixing them up or dressing them down in any style that whether it’s with season must haves from KlûckCGDT, AKJP Collective, Danielle Margaux or Missibaba which is the point of democratised fashion. The only rule is that there are no rules – it’s up to you!
Though I never stayed for the gallery installation showing, the need to get back to the Mother City for another engagement, I was impressed of the little I saw by Jani Goussard in association with Annie Sloan, Eugenie Marais or Modesta by The Farmer’s Daughter and was seriously blown away by the Robin Sprong Wallpaper and object d’art by Ceramic Matters that were on display in the Salon’s anteroom. A creative collaboration like this isn’t the success of one but the many who contributed to the day from Alwijn Burger who was creative director, Juanita Kotzé who curated the concept and dance to DeeJee Kruger and The Aleit Academy for the excellent food and drinks service throughout the day.