In the last week of September, Poetry hosted guests at the Winchester Mansions in Sea Point for their Spring Summer 18/19 showcase. All of the years I’ve resided in Cape Town and I have yet to add Sea Point to my frequent hotspots. For good reason, everything is so beautiful there, you feel urged to spend money!
Upon arrival, Winchester Mansions, a quaint looking hotel, was decorated in white orchids. Guests were served bubbly and an assortment of hors d’oeuvres. Walking in, I did my best to spot a familiar face…admittedly, this took a while. Eventually, after spotting a few familiar faces, I got to work preparing for the showcase.
Poetry Spring Summer 2018/2019 collection
In the time I’ve lived in South Africa, I’ve never quite identified with the fashion by Poetry. Whether it was the mannequins styled in ways that looked very distant to my personal tastes or something else, nothing spurned me into a store. On September 20, however, I had no choice but to look at what was on offer. Surprisingly, there were quite a few items that tickled my fancy.
From what I could see, there were floral prints galore, espadrilles for days, and well executed a-line cuts for Africa! Nothing says frumpy more than an ill fitting a-line garment; as my mother would say, “You look humpty dumpty!” The models carried their looks well. However, at the end of the show I noted that some guests already had pieces from the collection. Their Instagram feeds may have looked lovely, but seeing the same Poetry garment at an event simply makes the piece look tacky. Alas, this is just one of the downsides of commercial fashion.
The window shopping experience
Nevertheless, I truly appreciated that there was a strong element of design to each article of clothing. Days after the showcase, I took the time to go to the Canal Walk Poetry store. As much as I enjoyed how garments hung off the models, I needed to experience the clothes up close and personal. In terms of quality and garment construction, I was impressed. The price point was also agreeable (if we stretch the term).
In South Africa, I have come to accept that the weight of textile industry’s shortfalls is paid by consumers. Clothes in SA are expensive! However, Poetry’s collection featured items in different price groups, and their items were competitive in the current market.
At the showcase, their entire homeware collection was not on display; even though it was this particular collection which most tickled my fancy. Pots for plants, pretty teacups, interesting trinkets stole my attention in-store for about fifteen minutes. I wouldn’t furnish an entire apartment with one of their sets for every day use, especially for the first time apartment owner/dweller. Instead, their sets are for special occasions, especially if you have clumsy housemates who tend to break things without telling you.
The question of diversity
Modupe Oloruntoba articulated it better, however it goes without saying that fashion must be diverse, it must transform. I did count how many models of color were walking at the Poetry showcase, and I was marginally pleased. In a country like South Africa, I shouldn’t have to struggle to find representation in fashion…not in Africa at all.
At the same time, while sitting among friends, I thought aloud, “I wonder how these clothes look on plus sized womxn.” My friends and I went back and forth about how it’s not hard to have images of garments on different sizes. While I relish the day that it’s standard practice to see plus sized models on the runway, on the day of the showcase I conceded to hoping for press images featuring larger sized womxn. There were none. No official images online, none on their Instagram feed. I barely saw any plus sized womxn in their tagged Instagram images.
Overall, I’m a new fan of Poetry. Their clothes are stylish, with a hint of “I vacation in Europe during the southern hemisphere’s winter months” glam, and playing by the beach ease. Right now, their branding doesn’t strike me as fully transformed and diverse; but with time, I believe this will change.
Images by Half & Halve (@halfandhalve)