Hot horses and stylish folk
THE countdown to the Durban July has begun. The event is all about fast horses, but it is also just as much about fashion.
Finery and high fashion have long been synonymous with this biggest race meeting in the African sporting calendar, after all.
Fashionistas will descend on Greyville Racecourse once again. Each year, the event attracts more than 55,000 people, A-list celebrities and politicians, among regular racegoers eager to share in the glamour and media attention of this heady occasion.
After a rather conservative 2011 Durban July "Royal Affair" theme, this year's "A Material World" was a joyous relief for fashion connoisseurs. The theme, inspired by the COP17 conference held in Durban last year, is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of going green.
The event is also an opportunity for the ladies to debut their latest, perhaps even custom-made hats, fascinators and outfits.
On the day you can see very different interpretations of the theme. Some will be very simple and others as extravagant as carnival costumes. One thing is for sure, this is the party to see and to be seen at.
How is the theme to be interpreted?
Fashion critic Alexis Tshangana says the place will be awash with eco-friendly and earthy-coloured clothes.
"Most people will use recycled materials to make a statement. Organic fabrics and flowers will be the order of the day. The bottom line is that everything has to look stylish and fashionable. If you are not sure of your outfit, consult a stylist to avoid being the joke of the event."
Tshangana adds that some people mistake the event for a fancy dress, rather than a high-fashion occasion.
Top DJs from exclusive nightspots will be at the Vodacom Durban July to entertain people at the after-racing party.
This annual horse and fashion extravaganza is a fertile ground for gossip writers and bloggers because anything can happen at Greyville at the after-parties.
The most sought-after marquees include the Vodacom marquee, which attracts South Africa's A-listers, who include the president. Guests at the Vodacom marquee will be entertained by award-winning DJ Black Coffee and singer-songwriter Arno Carstens. They will be playing with their own virtual band, which is made up of a 12-piece orchestra, as well as of a two-piece outfit with Mbongeni Zibane on percussion and Mahlatse Rina on keys.
Afrotainment Lounge, Millers Marquee and MTV Base Lifestyle Oasis Village usually attract the youngest and trendiest crowds.
Fashion lovers will also feast on the latest creations by heavyweights, including David Tlale, Gideon, Suzaan Heynes, Leigh Schubert, Colleen Eitzen, Brenda Quinn, Andre Martin and Zama Mathe. These designers will show creations that have all been inspired by the theme, "A Material World".
For the 33-year-old designer who hails from Nongoma, KZN, showing her label Zarth, made up of her name, Zamakhosi Ruth Mathe, alongside celebrated designers, the event is a real treat and a moment of pride.
"It's a platform to show your creativity, bringing new elements to the fashion world, giving other designers ideas. And with thousands of people coming - who wouldn't want to show their work," says Mathe, who draws her inspiration from our diverse culture, lifestyles and modern life.
Her Zarth label includes bridal, evening, cocktail and traditional wear.
Mathe says: "The fashion extravaganza will see beautiful people wearing designs with a 'green' message behind them."
The Durban July takes place at Greyville next Saturday (7 July 2012).