Carol Bouwer is nothing if not multi-talented. From being thrust into the limelight as a teenage TV star, she soon cemented her position in the industry with leading roles in front of the camera, as well as delving into the numbers game behind it with the creation of her own television company, Carol Bouwer Productions.
Along the way she’s travelled the world, grown into a much-loved local celebrity, and started a family. Today, happily settled in her home on the mountain slopes above Cape Town, she has interests and investments in everything from media to women’s empowerment. But she’s also not shy to indulge in her fair share of glamour, launching her own line of covetable handbags and learning to love the “sport of kings”.
Proudly passionate about her hometown, Bouwer sprinkles her inimitable style onto your weekend break in the city.
What’s the most inspiring thing about Cape Town?
It’s not a particular place; it’s the energy of the city. All the people are so distinctly different, and how they choose to entertain themselves within the city is so varied. It makes it such an exciting place to be. We’re all Capetonian, yet we each enjoy different aspects of the city in our own way.
I’ve just arrived in Cape Town. Point me in the right direction for sunset and bubbly?
You should come to my house! Aside from that, I think nothing beats the sunset at a beautiful place called Moondance Villa in Fresnaye. It’s where you want to take someone special. Just go, you will thank me. If I want somewhere with a younger Cape Town vibe, I’ll go into the city to Villa 47. Another really special place for me is the Vista Bar at One&Only Cape Town, enjoying cocktails mixed by the best bartenders.
Tell us about your perfect weekend in the city.
For my husband and I, weekends in Cape Town are all about culture. But I’d start by making my way to the beautiful coffee spot of Giovanni’s Deli in Green Point. I love to sit there with my coffee, go through the papers, and enjoy great conversations with people I don’t know.
Then, I’ll hop in the car with hubby and make our way to an art gallery, perhaps the Norval Foundation in Constantia, to enjoy some beautiful art. In the evening it’s the theatre. We are spoilt for choice with theatre in South Africa, in Cape Town in particular, so perhaps off to the Artscape to catch a performance.
Interesting, your excitement at chatting with strangers, as Cape Town has a reputation for being unwelcoming to people of colour. What’s been your experience?
Cape Town is what you allow it to be. Yes, it has a reputation for being “cliquey”, but I’m the kind of person that decides how a place is going to treat me. Cape Town is a beautiful place if you want it to be, so a lot of places I go to are very cosmopolitan. When it comes to race, I believe that we bring ourselves into those spaces, and those spaces remain untransformed because we refuse to engage with them. If you remain silent and decide to cower they will continue to keep you out. We have to learn to fight to be where we want to be.
Which are the most glamorous soirées of the year in the city?
We have so many wonderful events in Cape Town that lend themselves to high glamour. For horseracing I love the glitz of The Met and the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (both in February 2021). But the Cape Town Art Fair (19-21 February 2021) has also become an appointment fair for art lovers throughout the world. It’s a wonderful gathering of like-minded art collectors, and whether you elect to buy or not, just being in that environment is fantastic. There’s a cosmopolitan element to the fair, but also a real business side to it.
Aside from a Carol Bouwer handbag on your arm, where would you shop for something to wear?
From Sindiso Khumalo (at Merchants on Long) to the wonderful pieces by Rich Mnisi, South Africa has so many amazing designers who, in the last three to four years, have shown themselves to be equal to the best in the world. I also love Marianne Fassler, Malcom Kluk and Mozambican designer Taibo Bacar. Another favourite is Stefania Morland, who represents the best of Cape Town fashion.
In and around Cape Town, which restaurants have caught your eye lately?
It’s so wonderful to have Michelin-starred South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen opening up his Jan Innovation Studio in Cape Town for pop-up dinners. Especially for South Africans who aren’t able to travel, he’s brought all of that experience to his new space in Kloof Street.
Otherwise I really love Gåte at Quoin Rock, in the Knorhoek Valley outside Stellenbosch. The chef there is in her twenties; she’s travelled the world, and produces the very best cuisine. I love how she’s experimenting with flavour and textures, that cuisine has become fearless, and how she’s using it as art. I also love the fact there’s a young woman chef giving the boys a run for their money!
After months of lockdown, what do you miss most about your hometown?
Mostly I can’t wait to get back to the galleries and museums that I took for granted. I also want to try new foods at the different restaurants that I never explored before because I’m such a creature of habit. I am absolutely dying to go to Wolfgat (in Paternoster, on the West Coast); the stories I’m hearing about the food and the experience sound incredible.