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Patrice and Me

Patrice and Me

by Rémy Ngamije, images by Simon Deiner / SDR Photo / 18.08.2010

The Convention Centre’s bright lights intuit my bank balance and dim on my entrance. Slender billionaire playboy, Patrice Motsepe, mute BEE poster boy, is arriving soon so the welcoming blaze is being saved for the real money. At the Media desk, I gush with politeness. The heavily mascara’d receptionist recognises a newbie. “Don’t worry,” she says. “It’s not like The Devil Wears Prada!“ it’s just Cape Town Fashion Week.”

The Media/VIP lounge sports photographers and journalists – and no VIP’s. A smattering of beautiful things. Androgynous creatures from a postmodern dream. At the bar the bartender looks at my crinkled bank note like its a fresh turd – before telling me drinks are free, until the tab runs out.

I have on a black dinner suit and a pair of white Nike Air Forces (and I’m smiling) – is that why I feel stared at by the other “VIP’s” in the lounge? Robert Downey Jnr wears sneakers with his suits. Everyone is dressed for the Durban July. Hairstyles resisting replication by James Cameron’s best CGI animator, leather and khaki shorts worn by grown men with blazer and tie, shiny formal shoes. Tall, wispy looking women, in creations that would be laughed at by my middle class comrades, do not even make anyone smirk. Me in your basic twenty-two-year-old-student-out-for-a-night-on-the-town-in-formal-but-not-so-formal-clothing am out of place. I am the freak.

Then my ass is groped. Briefly, almost unnoticeably, hands cup my buttocks, assessing – I spin around ready to elbow the nearest offender in the face. Two muscular beefcakes with arms bigger than my legs say hello. The welcoming committee. Ass and greet. Fair enough.

Cape Town Fashion Week

Finger foods pass by. Good to see the haute-bourgeoisie fight for chow like the rest of us. The menu is Spartan by my non-model standards. All veggies and fish. A voice announces that the show will start in a few minutes. The bouncer asks for my pass. He must have worked quite a few clubs back in the day because he looks at it in a Home Affairs kind of way. He points at my tiny Nikon Coolpix L10. I display it proudly. And he asks if I seriously intend to call myself a photographer with that? So I haven’t got one of those giant telescopic penises professionals are sporting. Eat me. Bemused, he steps aside.

The arena is softly lit. Nameless electro house thonks. All of the best spots along the runway are taken. Penises cocked and ready for the perfect shot. I squeeze in next to a small woman with a camera that could double as a stilt and keep mine in my pocket. A nipple in cold air – I am exposed. “We all have to start somewhere,” she says. We shake hands and settle into the show.

Cape Town Fashion Week

Adverts then a half-naked, skinny creature flaunts a buttock in your face. The Craig Port show wisps by – an ample supply of nipple fodder to keep me interested. Stoned Cherry with Love Moment is amazing though. Bright and vivid. Even the Motsepes, escorted in earlier by the 56th Armed Cavalry, clap. The Southern Sun Swimwear show is all Clifton dolls with crankshaft hips. Swing right, and stall. Will one of them run out of mechanical power and freeze on the catwalk? I leave disappointed.
The shows pass quick – twenty minutes each. Hardly R150 worth of sweat and nipples. We want someone on the cover of TIME to appear for that much skrilla. We want magic. Is this what women feel like in bed – dissatisfied? The crowd seem buzzed. Cape Town doesn’t mind paying that much for a twenty minute show where Big Nuz or HHP don’t even perform!
Photographers soon pack up shop. It’s all over baby. I amble off – boobs in my head. Then a strong hand clamps down on me. Another muscular arm on an even more muscular shoulder. I pray that if my glutes are going to be assessed, this one does not decide to take it further.

The Hand tells me to watch where I am going. Face to face with Patrice Motsepe – my Nikes seem to have landed on one of his tiny polished Italians. Frozen by the hand on my shoulder and locked momentarily in place by my rapid mental calculation of the eye-watering settlement facing me for the unlawful infringement of Patrice’s shoe, I try to apologize. Raising both hands in a weird expression of supplication. Hau sorry baas! He blinks and walks on. Motsepe has left the building. My dusty tread there on his leather like a sign of the people.

Cape Town Fashion Week

*All images © Simon Deiner / SDR Photo.

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  1. violent boogie says:

    what an utterly useless industry…fashion that is

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  2. Clinton Marius says:

    Bwahahah! Brilliant article.

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  3. Tangerine says:

    I fucking love this account of fashion week.
    It’s retarded how important these industry people think they are ,”Sorry, your name is…?”
    I felt like I was walking around completely naked with two dicks instead of tits at the David West Show, those were the kind of looks I was getting…
    This was so nice to read. Thank you.

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  4. Preston says:

    Well said! The Southern Sun Swimwear show was most uninspiring and to think these designers are top of the SA plateau…. Don’t get me wrong, I left after the show thinking ‘was that it’?

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  5. Tatenda says:

    hahahaha outstanding writing skills u enlightend my mind and took me straight to the show with the same nerves u had good stuff

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  6. Finn says:

    The fashion industry in South Africa is dismal.

    Can the real Karl Lagerfeld please stand up?

    Some of the self important designers and celebutants lack substance to say the least. Achieving ‘greatness’ in a tiny pond like SA. Even the ones that have lied to the South African public by telling them they have ‘shown at Paris fashion week’ are dismal. Talent is raw. Money is cheap. But fuck, substance is everything.

    Only country in the world where the general public can buy tickets to fashion (civilised fashion weeks are for industry professionals only) and bring their children and grandmothers.

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  7. Remy Ngamije says:

    I can see why it is that people get into fashion. Like music, it is interesting and it takes a lot of creativity. There are a lot of positives that can be said about it. The bad thing though is how pretentious it is – especially here in Cape Town. People try to emulate the Pradas and D&G’s of Europe that have been around forever. That kind of thing, the reputation and the ego takes a lot of time to produce. In SA, it feels as though they are trying too hard to be over the top – it alienates people.

    The Stoned Cherry show was awesome. It felt like it was embracing you as opposed to making you feel like you had peed on yourself on the school playground…The rest of the shows were just wack. 20 minutes for a show…Pathetic.

    I liked the fact that it was a new experience, but I was not amazed at all. Thanks for the positive reviews.

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  8. Charles says:

    BRILLIANT!! Thoroughly enjoyed this review. I worked in the marketing and advertising industry and had the same feeling when attending some soirees for high-end launches. Certainly the fashion industry is infinitely more pretentious than marketing/advertising…but still…

    I’m looking forward to your next article, this was great!

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  9. ToM says:

    @ Finn.. So true .. the fashion industry is dismal… great article!

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  10. Rémy Ngamije says:

    Once again, thank you for the positive feedback.

    @Charles: High school dances are much better I think – at least there you have friends. And when someone acts like a stuck up bitch, you can always point out to them that they have failed woodwork. 🙂

    @ Finn: The fashion industry just needs a serious wake up call…

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  11. Ivan Ayliffe says:

    “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” Oscar Wilde.

    Sorry, can’t do better than that.

    Here’s to Fashion Weak 2011.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    it’s an industry about……clothing. get over yourselves you fucking useless douche bags. talent, creative, blah fucking blah bwahahaha….an industry built on peoples’ insecurities, slobbered over, er, i mean..staffed by insecure people.
    All of you involved in it in any way, shape or form can go and sit on a stileto…repeatedly…

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  13. Roger Young says:


    You wear clothes right? That you buy? That you choose? From clothing outlets? Yes?

    This qualifies you for some stiletto sitting yourself seeing as you to are involved in it.

    (To bring it full circle, I stole this argument from ‘The Devil Wears Prada”)

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  14. Anonymous says:

    i wear jeans and a t-shirt. only. the price determines what i choose.

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