Sunday, February 17, 2008

Country Couture Party

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It was Luca's 30th birthday party this weekend - he's a suit we work with, and he decided to have a bash out in the country in a wineland area called Riebeek Kasteel (Riebeek Castle). It's an interesting drive getting out there - first you drive past Century City (the Southern Hemisphere's biggest shopping mall... I reckon it probably rivals Vivo City), then you drive past oil refineries, then you drive past ostrich farms (signs on the road say "Don't Hoot - Ostriches getting laid!"), and just when you think it's gonna be a weird, drab industrial town, the valley clears and you're miraculously amongst vineyards ("Welcome to Shiraz country").

The theme for the party was "Country Couture", so I dug out all the denim I could find.

We thought we'd make a weekend out of it, so Kelly's art director, Michael, managed to find this cute little B&B called "Cape Francolin Art Hotel", run by an artist David, and his dog, Clive (Clive's name is also painted on the hotel signboard). This place is the sweetest little spot and very hard to describe... it's part art gallery, part workshop, part home, part guest-house. The house is crammed full of odds and ends, and there's a story to every piece displayed on the walls, in the corners, in the shed...

David says his claim to fame are the armchairs he's re-upholstered in coffee sackcloth (or gunnysacks, whatever you call them) and he also uses his home as a gallery space for other artists... there are wrought iron candelabra chandeliers hanging from his ceiling; chairs made out of what used to be pitchforks; pitchforks used as weathervanes/ windsocks outside in the garden (it looks like a cemetary of pitchfork weathervanes); a textile showroom in the roof of the house (the upstairs is literally covered in cushions upholstered in a riot of flowers, with stacks of floral textiles and upholstery samples. Laura Ashley would be proud.) There are jars of jam lined up in his larder, with all kinds of different china and porcelain - different colours, styles and textures... I guess he's what you'd call a stylish packrat. There's lots of stuff in the house, but it's not like it's messy or dirty in the least... everything in the house looked like it was beautifully art-directed for a shoot, yet it wasn't.

The Art Hotel is right next to a vineyard, and the pool is literally overlooking vines of grapes... and on the other end of the house, there are springboks grazing next to sheep. Next to the pool, there's a mulberry bush that has been fashioned into a lounge, and it's completely comfy to laze there all morning as we did today. It is as bizarre an experience as it sounds... but David is the sweetest and most accommodating host, even laying out a bottle of wine for the 4 of us to enjoy at the end of the day!

The party itself started off gently, with people rocking up in cowboy stetson hats and denim, but it got messy after dinner - we headed off to the only club in town, a shack-discotheque called "The View"... the resident DJ was playing with his arm in a cast, but he was in top-form, spinning a horrendous mix of Euro-trash and a medley of '80s pop hits REMIXED. Needless to say, we were decimated by the end of the night. More photos in album below.

"Yee har, giddyup cowboy!"

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