So, Saturday night finally arrived after 48 hours of reading other people’s tweets about the Durban fashion event of the year, the 031 Collection. If you haven’t the foggiest what I am talking about, read my post about it here. This is the review.

As you may have guessed by the title of this blog, I am interested in fashion (although not obsessed, I must point out) and I was really quite excited about this event. I often feel as though nothing really interesting ever happens in Durban. Now, I’m not being disloyal to my beloved city but part of Durban’s charm is her predictability. That being said, a bit of a shake-up is always good and the 031 Collection was expected to be just that.

After a slight hiccup with the parking arrangements (it is always a good idea to check if there is rugby before planning an event on a Saturday in this area) we walked into a marquee all a flutter with well-dressed people and we soon made our way into the show area. I was pleased to see that our seats were in the middle section, one row back from the ramp. As shallow as it sounds, the little Mr Price goodies on the seats made us feel as though we were in Paris!

It was exciting to observe the people walking in and I admit to getting a bit of a thrill out of seeing Elle editor Jacki Burger taking her seat just opposite us and next to several other well known magazine editors and writers. Durbs is often left out of local magazines’ coverage so it was encouraging to see their support.

My first tweet from the 031 Collection was “The atmosphere is thumping” and it certainly was. The show began with a slightly odd dance routine: the performers dressed all in black with bars of black paint across their eyes seemed a little out of whack with the rest of the show and I breathed a sigh of relief when the first collection started – Mr Price’s Agyness Deyn-styled pieces. The first outfit down the ramp was a baby pink, sequinned jumpsuit which made everyone smile. It continued with lots of bohemian, relaxed outfits beautifully accessorised as expected. The bunches of flowers hanging loosely upside down from the models’ hands and trailing on the ramp gave the collection a lazy, Indian summer feel. Apparently, we can expect to see these outfits in Mr Price stores soon.

The first New Designer (ND – another clever, subtle reference to Durban) finalist was Belinda Morgan and I loved her eclectic combinations of florals, leather, lace and very structured pleats and folds and I am still thinking about a particular leather waterfall jacket…

I won’t bore you with a description of each collection, but I will talk about the ones I loved. Leigh Schubert is a favourite designer of mine and I have several of her creations in my wardrobe. I also love Sara Trickett’s brooches and headbands and there are a few of them on my dressing table, too, so I was delighted by a collaboration between the two for the 031 Collection. The delicate flowing gowns adorned with Sara’s exquisite details were truly beautiful and made me wish I had places to wear dresses like them.

The other new designers I particularly liked were Claire Mackenzie and Jaqui Munsami. Claire’s collection was full of nostalgia with its ice-cream colours, capes and ribbons and I could see myself swanning about Nice and Monaco in one of her designs. I liked the drama of Jaqui’s designs – all leather and feathers, pink and black.

The new designer that didn’t particularly impress me was, to my surprise, the winner, Cindy Armstrong. As I was watching her collection come down the ramp, I had a sense of deja vu and lacked any passionate feeling towards the clothes. Well done to Cindy for impressing a noteworthy panel of judges, though – the fact that I disagree with their choice probably underlines my fashion-pleb status.

Getting back to the established designers, I enjoyed the Holmes Bros’ styling and fun coreography and felt that the characters of a 21st century Grease would have felt very at home in the fifties-inspired yet modern designs. I hope to see this collection in their stores as I have my eye on one dress in particular. I was surprised by Terrence Bray’s offering to put it mildly. My first encounter with his designs was a friend’s magnificent dance dress more than 10 years ago and I was expecting more of the same on Saturday. I was definitely not expecting a very provocative collection of underwear being showcased under the label Brayve. The S&M inspired pieces in luminous colours shocked me at first (especially as there was more male flesh on view than usual) but the more I think about it, the more I think it added an edge to the show, which I liked. Let’s face it, fashion shows are not about wearable!

My final comment on the clothes had to be saved for Francois Vedemme. I seem to be in good company when I say that his collection was the piece de resistance of the show. I literally felt my heart flutter at his gorgeous, gorgeous gowns and I think every woman there felt the same way. One of my favourite books is an out of print novel by Paul Gallico called “Flowers for Mrs Harris.” It is about a London charlady who comes across a Dior dress in the cupboard of one of the houses she cleans and she falls madly in love with it and saves for years to be able to go to Paris and buy a Dior dress of her own. I was able to relate to her feelings when Francois Vedemme’s dresses came floating down the ramp. I wanted to reach out and touch and examine each exquisite detail and those dresses are still populating my dreams, day and night.

On that note and a sigh, the show was over and I left feeling very proud to be a Durbanite. I think that initiatives like this one prove to us locals, more so than the rest of the country, that we really are a place packed with talent and potential – we just have to show off a bit more. Congrats to everyone involved in the 031 Collection!   

My 031 Outfit

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