Great venues for fashion week

 

The classical facade of the Rand ClubThe classical facade of the Rand Club

JOBURG Fashion Week will see Joburgers visiting places in the CBD that they may not normally visit – like the Rand Club, or the Johannesburg Art Gallery, or the Fashion Kapitol, or the Bus Factory, or Nelson Mandela Bridge.

At the Rand Club, that bastion of exclusive male togetherness, giggling fashion models will be slipping into designer outfits in its dark corridors, while applying make-up and hair spray, which is likely to see its members blushing and clucking their tongues in dismay.

For 80 years women had to slip into the club through a back entrance in Fox Street, around the corner from its grand front entrance in Loveday Street. Only in the late 1980s were women allowed in the front entrance. And it was only in 1993 that women were allowed to become members, and even then they haven't rushed forward in large numbers.

The present Rand Club was built in 1904, on the site of two earlier clubs. The first was built in 1887, a year after Johannesburg was established. It was a single-storey building of wood and iron, with a wraparound verandah. Two years later, that building was torn down and the second Rand Club was built, this time in Elizabethan style with turrets and long wrought-iron balconies running around the two-storey building.

The present, attractive four-storey building has beautiful stained-glass windows, lovely chandeliers and Africa's longest bar counter, in gleaming wood. Dining rooms, a billiards room and a library are decorated in antique furniture, with gorgeous sweeping-to-the-floor curtains, richly patterned carpets, fireplaces, Persian rugs and brass and copper fittings.

This rarefied atmosphere is sure to make anyone's designs sparkle.

Johannesburg Art Gallery

One of the city's quiet treasures is the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), located on the corner of Klein and King George streets in Joubert Park.

The impressive entrance to the Johannesburg Art GalleryThe impressive entrance to the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Comprising 15 exhibition halls and sculpture gardens, it houses collections of 17th century Dutch paintings, 18th and 19th century British and European art, 19th century South African works, a large contemporary collection of 20th century local and international art, and a print cabinet containing works from the 15th century to the present.

The initial collection was put together by Sir Hugh Lane and exhibited in London in 1910 before it was brought to South Africa. Lady Florence Phillips, an art collector and the wife of mining magnate Lionel Phillips, established the first gallery collection using funds donated by her husband.

The building was designed by Edward Lutyens and was opened in 1915. It was extended in the 1940s with the addition of east and west wings. The north facade was added in 1987.

Recently, the gallery has actively acquired more artworks by contemporary South African artists, including traditional African pieces like necklaces and bracelets made of beads. Works made of rock, wood, tyre, wire, cement, clay, ceramics, bronze and metal have also been collected, reflecting the diversity of South African artists.

Fashion Kapitol

The Fashion Kapitol is the heart beat of the Fashion District, a stylish square with 30 shops providing space for the city's upcoming and established designers.

It contains Joburg's first public outdoor fashion ramp; it also has a small amphitheatre. Several buildings were demolished to make room for the venue, which also has an arcade linking Prichard and Market streets.

In offices upstairs, Gibs Business School and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship opened a week ago, bringing an intellectual focus to the district.

The Kapitol takes up most of the block, which is situated in the heart of the district; the district itself comprises about 26 blocks on the eastern edge of the CBD – boarded by Market, Kerk, Von Weilligh and End streets.

There are over 200 fashion-related outlets in the area, including cut, make and trim operators, a budget clothing retail industry and the studios of several established designers, some of whom include Clive Rundle and Bongiwe Walaza, who has just opened a shop in the Kapitol.

It's the obvious venue to open Fashion Week.

Bus Factory

At the turn of the 20th century, Newtown was known as Brickfields. The rich clay in the area made brick making an immediate choice of livelihood for some newcomers to the town.

The Bus Factory is a centre for arts and crafts, as well as the headquarters of the JDAThe Bus Factory is a centre for arts and crafts, as well as the headquarters of the JDA

Soon small shops opened, offering townsfolk a range of trade – from banking to a brewery and eateries. But bubonic plague reportedly broke out in 1904, and the authorities cleared the suburb and set it alight. A new suburb was established in its place, called Newtown. Today, it is today the city's cultural precinct.

The Bus Factory was built to house the town's double-decker buses. It's a voluminous, airy building, a creative space, designated in 2001 as a cultural building. The Artists' Proof Studio has space in the factory, as well as the Photo Workshop Gallery, Drum Cafe, Imbali and Vaca, two craft stores.

In June 2007, the Johannesburg Development Agency moved in. It took the eastern interior corner of the building for its offices. Its new space consists of two floors with striking red facebrick, wooden doors, wooden balconies and large windows dominating the design.

A double-volume atrium is the focal point of the new structure, with meeting rooms, a gym, table tennis and a pool table completing the facilities for staff.

It's the perfect space for young designers to spread their wings and fly, safe within the tall ceiling of the Bus Factory.

Nelson Mandela Bridge

The City bosses aimed to combine two things when they built Nelson Mandela Bridge: to honour the country's best-loved citizen, and to encourage citizens to come into a rapidly rejuvenated city centre, especially the cultural hub of Newtown.

The largest cable-stay bridge in southern Africa, it was officially opened by Mandela in July 2003. Construction took two years and cost R38-million. It is 284 metres long, 42 metres high at its northern point, and 27 metres high at its southern tip. It carries traffic in both directions.

And at night with its elegant lights changing colours, it takes on a magical feel, reminding Joburgers of why they love their city and its famous citizen.

It's the perfect venue for gorgeous models to show off the city's designers, and for Joburgers to celebrate their city.

 

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