The most hectic week of the Cape Town social year is over! Forget about the days between Christmas and New Year, the Nokia Cape Town Fashion Week always proves to be many times more demanding and festive. While the models manage to stay fresh and glamorous, the rest of us poor mortals end up looking like we fell off the end of the ramp by the end of the 5-day event.

Cape Town Fashion Week says that it’s the largest gathering of fashion talent in Africa (although its rival, SA Fashion Week in Joburg, might claim the same). About 50 designers showcase their wares, and the expo attracts fellow African designers from Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania. This fast-expanding fashion expo grew out of the Nederburg Designer Collection and is in now its fourth year. With what seemed like countless shows, dozens of after parties to booze and schmooze at, and the networking smorgasboard of the year, I left with enough goodies in my media gift packs to give presents to at least 12 extended families.

The week went well. Most of us journos felt that things were a lot more streamlined and less ostentatious than in the past. No more shopping expo (damn!); no YDE after-party (bugger the new owners, Truworths!); and a very dull, low-key final Gala Highlights Show on Saturday night (Patrice Matsepe and his wife and my gorgeous friend, Precious Moloi, were the only well-dressed celebs and billionaires who cared to attend). Even Danny K and Mandoza didn’t make the final night special.

This year, the event definitely signalled a move from fashion frivolity to a week focused more on the business of fashion. Sad, and definitely less fun, but the way of the world: Even the international House of Versace has had to change its branding and shed its former flamboyant glamour and couture style in favour of mainstream simplicity to survive.

My highlight of the week was seeing one of SA’s biggest glamorous fashion directors slipping a CTICC champagne glass into her Louis Vuitton handbag one night in the plush media centre. You go girl! Amandla!

So what is happening on the fashion front? While admittedly everyone is doing their own thing, and inventing their own themes, there are certain common threads that hold it all together and show what the true fashionista should be adhering to.

Current styles:

  • Victorian (a return to formality and detail)
  • 1980’s (yikes! Get out the lamé; stretch fabrics; and big moussed hair!)
  • 1950’s (waistlines return, as does impeccable grooming- thank God!)
  • Street (more 80’s!!! Wear chains; deconstructed garments; lots of detail and accessories)
  • African chic (definite Afristocracy stuff and by far the most creative and beautiful)
  • Polka dots (glad this is back)
  • Bling, bling, and more bling!
  • Accessories
  • Glamour and ostentation (enjoy it now as the war in The Middle East may dramatically change and influence fashion trends)
  • Must haves for Men:

  • Jackets
  • Tweeds
  • Tailored velvet jackets
  • Winkle picker designer shoes
  • Jewellery (lots of it)
  • Hats and caps – accessorize darlings!
  • The man bag
  • Big bold belts
  • Stripes
  • Deconstructed Denims – only wear decent labels and brands
  • White closed shoes
  • Big rings
  • Military
  • Epaulettes
  • Smart and dressy
  • Tucked in evening shirts
  • Nautical
  • Colours:


  • Grey – the new black
  • Silver – the elegant new black
  • Black – will never go away
  • Maroon – thanks Madonna
  • Pink – just for the moffies?
  • Summer:

  • White
  • More white
  • Black
  • Brights in every colour
  • Orange (big in Paris at the moment)
  • Tropical colours
  • Now for a few special awards that I’d like to present. The winners worked real hard to earn them:

    Nicest personality of the week:

    Gerry Ranselli (CTFW Spokesperson) – what an ambassador.

    Biggest personality of the week:

    Magda Koetter – M.D. of Uwe Koetter Jewelers, and absolutely fabulous, dahlink!

    Coolest person at Fashion Week:

    Sam Wilson (Editor of Women24) – we love you Sam!

    Rising Star designer and someone to watch out for:

    Kim Govaars – X&O – his designs are so professional and his style is consistent and excellent.

    Hairstyle of the week:

    Malcolm Kluk – sported a glued on Mohican, which he actually managed to carry off!

    Most successful brand with international potential:

    Hip Hop – fun, funky and has huge mass appeal. Their branding is superb. Check out their new denim range

    Most professional show:

    Kluk and CGDT Рthis team knows how to deliver 100% professionalism all the time. We can all learn from them. Full marks for d̩cor; showcasing international trends; quality of garments and calibre of audience.

    Best newcomer:

    Kobus Dippenaar Atelier – beautiful dresses; glamour and sophistication; implementation of international trends.

    Most diligent journalist:

    Fashion and style guru Neil Doveton from Mens’ Health. 100% for attendance and showing the boys how to dress.

    SA Fashion Institution:

    Gavin Rajah – has come back from conquering Paris and is a local hero.

    Best gay role models:

    Malcolm Kluk and Christian Gabriel Du Toit – happily involved; highly successful and the nicest boys on the planet. Aah…

    Joburg’s own fashion extravaganza, the 10th SA Fashion Week, kicks off this Thursday at the Sandton International Convention Centre.

    John French

    Marketing and media personality, John French, sometimes rushes in where angels fear to spread. The results can be amusing.

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