When Editor of Vogue International and fashion critic Suzy Menkes landed in South Africa last week she visited two of South Africa’s talented creatives.
Her first stop was at Laduma Ngxokolo of Maxhosa studio in Johannesburg, then a stop at artist Nelson Makamo’s studio.
She describes their works as “very exciting and inspiring”.
This, coming from one of the most respected fashion voices in the world, is a huge moment for SA and African talent as a whole. African talent is in the international spotlight, with fashion designers Thebe Magugu (South Africa) and Kenneth Ize (Nigeria) recently selected as finalists for the 2019 LVMH ( a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate headquartered in Paris) awards, the world is watching.
Menkes is in Cape Town this week for the Condé Nast International ‘Nature of Luxury’ Conference (#CNILux). Hosted and curated by her, its a first of its type to take place in South Africa.
The event has travelled the world, taking place in intriguing and diverse locations – from Lisbon, to Muscat, to Florence, to Seoul. The programme identifies the key topics that matter to the global luxury industry.
The ‘Nature of Luxury’ theme aims to explore the artisanal skills and creative talent on the continent, whilst examining the broader landscape of the global luxury market, as well as sustainability, among other things.
High calibre conference guests and speakers include Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci, Naomi Campbell, Jewellery experts Nicolas Bos, President and CEO, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Alessandro Bogliolo, CEO of Tiffany & Co.
I met Menkes on Tuesday during a casual intimate round table discussion. Her trademark exaggerated pompadour hairstyle with a contrasting bob is even more striking in real life. Her voice is soft as she greets and briefly shakes my hand.
Menkes explains that she has been advocating for the conference to come to Africa for some time now. “There has never been a conference that deals with the subject of luxury in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Many people couldn’t think of luxury and Africa in the same breathe;” she says
So why now? ‘The promise of Africa is such an important thing…Its something that I have believed in for the longest time". she says.
“The conference focuses on more than just about luxury, Its much more about how we live, who we are, encompassing more of the superficial effects of clothing and make-up; this is not a conference about where we will Louis Vuitton open a store next. What we are talking about is the changing face of luxury, what luxury means today;
“Its not about the handbags and the scarves, there are other things as well. There is definitely a shift in luxury to include, the business of living well and living a healthy life. This is not a fashion conference. It’s a conference looking at many aspects of the world of beauty, dress,
good health right through Africa,” she adds.
Touching on the next big trends in the world of luxury, fashion and beauty, she says “The opening up of the world of beauty and the world of fashion
to become more inclusive and also, more importantly, the whole world of living. How we live is something that I believe is going to dominate the 21st century,” Menkes explains.
“The nature of luxury is changing… now, we are in a situation where something that is personal, being touched by human hands is becoming more important than luxury as in a label" she says
Bespoke and personalised items are becoming more popular, Menkes says.
“Sometimes in mindful ways not just putting your initials on a item. But choosing colours and designing it your way”, she adds.
* The luxury conference is held at the Lookout Hill . Visit 2019. www.cniluxury.com for more information and on social media