Exciting!!! Our invitation to the most anticipated event on our annual social calendar has popped up in our inbox; the Vodacom Durban July 2019, Africa's most prestigious horse-racing event which always takes place on the first Saturday of my birthday month. With two short months to go, I immediately started to work through my wardrobe in my mind, blissfully contemplating which of my exquisite dresses would make the cut - until I heard about this year’s theme...
The Vodacom Durban July 2019 theme is ‘African Couture’. Mmmm... Not what I expected. Why do I always seem to be stumped by these often vague themes year after year? Last year, it had something to do with the telecom company’s brand colour, red, but I ended up clashing in pink instead. My outfit had cost R7000 and I haven't worn it since! This year, I have zero plans of going out in search of something new. Either the perfect dress is hidden somewhere in my closet or... I’ll just rebel and forget about adhering to the theme altogether. Where to start...? I’ve never worn traditional African garb before and I really don’t want to splurge on a new dress that I’ll only wear once and never again.
Hubby had a lightbulb moment and I actually can’t fault his suggestion. He reminded me of a bespoke leather dress, crafted especially for my tiny frame, by South African designer Suzaan Heyns. I literally wore this unique little dress once to a Milan Fashion Week event in September 2017 and it’s been couped up in a protective cover ever since. Reintroducing my fish-scale inspired dress, exquisitely crafted from countless hand-applied leather pieces, and wearing it again on home turf will be a delight; it will gain much-deserved exposure at the VIP paddock, and the best part is that I save $$$ by reusing a dress that’s both ‘African’ and ‘Couture’!
Now if you intend on looking like a million bucks at the races, but you don’t plan on following the theme much or spending a million bucks on an outfit for just a few short hours, then check out these affordable VDJ race-day dress recommendations:
This classic mermaid design is always in vogue. The earth-toned beadwork lends a dose of African flair, so complete your look with a matching hat and wedged heels, and voila...!
Durban’s weather in July is usually mild and hospitable, but considering that the race takes place smack bang in the middle of winter, the wind chill factor can’t be dismissed. Lose the trouser of this long-sleeved eastern ensemble and wear the dress alone with chunky-heeled pumps. The brown/orange combo is as African a palette as you can get, and being in a city with a strong Indian influence, this fusion look ought to be a hit.
There’s nothing African about this garment, so let’s just say that it’s for an angelic rebel; a woman who goes against the grain and doesn’t mind standing out for all the right reasons. For starters, it’s not a typical ‘dress’ but the delicate lace and slim silhouette will pair beautifully with a wide-brimmed hat or understated headgear. Be ultra daring and keep your under-garments to barely-there necessities - that’s if you don’t mind basking in lingering stolen glances.
Now this striking Italian garment has got ‘race day’ written all over it! You just can’t go wrong with a short cocktail dress that offers flexibility, luxury and femininity, so whether you’ve got plans to rock the dance floor or just mingle without the nuisance of maneuvering a long skirt, then look no further. If you’re not the shy type, remove the added fabric and show off a bit of cleavage.
Think ‘Nubian queen meets Sun Goddess’ and go bling or go home! This fully-sequined dress is incredibly versatile as much as it is impossible to ignore. Show off a great pair of toned legs and accessorise your look with strappy sandals, a gold Ndebele-influenced neckpiece and a Nefertiti-inspired turban.
This dress makes the cut because of the Egyptian-inspired beading along the neck and hemline. It’s stitched from a stretchy fabric so a contoured fit and all-day comfort is guaranteed, plus the off-the-floor hemline won’t sweep up grass and mud. The plastic sequins will dazzle in the sunlight, and practically, these also protect the pale-hued fabric from dirty surfaces and dust.
Also not traditional African in any way, this bespoke design - created by a South African designer - is undeniably a showstopper! Aside from the elegant figure-flattering fit, the rich red is Vodacom’s brand shade after all, and will without a doubt be appreciated by loyal corporate big-shots in the VIP pavilion.
Umayya Theba, 'The Mayyarani'