Paris — so the Audrey Hepburn line drilled into our fomo-fogged heads goes — is always a good idea. But if your name is King Charles III or Olivier Rousteing, timing plays a crucial role in the robustness of this contention.
Back in March, services ground to a halt and piles of garbage lined the streets — the symptoms of opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms — ensuring that Paris was an entirely bad idea, and Charles’s first state visit as his late mother’s replacement was postponed. And so it was that, when I spent a week in Paris last month for the launch of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami, the king was back.
Although this time around it was, for him, an excellent idea, given the ensuing pomp and le tapage by a nation not famed for its enthusiasm for outsiders, his presence made getting around the capital a nightmare for the rest of us. All streets of any consequence were closed, all trips not taken on foot or by bicycle were at least 30 minutes longer, and the Champs-Élysées teemed with more crowds than the usual crowded standard. Charles had shut down Paris, but the queues at the Eiffel Tower were still long — go figure.
On the morning of my arrival in the city of light, Rousteing, the house of Balmain’s creative director, announced on Instagram that a truck carrying 50 new looks had been hijacked, adding to the statistics that see this crime up by 3.5% in those parts. Hysteria ensued, with just a week to go before those garments were set to go down the runway at Paris Fashion Week. The hysteria lived adjacent to exasperation and disbelief, as fashion fiends pondered the motive for the crime: where would these people wear these items or to whom could they flog their nicked gear? I imagined a lone mastermind narcissist, parading the looks to multiple automated cameras in their own private basement lair where they also display their ill-gotten Renoir and Vermeer. But that’s me.
September may have been covered by a cloud of theft, but Rousteing’s SA tribe seized upon a morsel of joy at the subsequent announcement of the first Balmain store opening at Sandton City’s Diamond Walk and, on the day we sent this issue to print, the Balmain Paris Fashion Week show went off without a hitch.
In our fashion story, we eschew our less-clad summer interpretations (you know we love a good swimsuit) and go for the serenity, stillness, and dreaminess of an endless summer in flowing linens and soft silks. Tatenda Chidora’s images strike an easy balance between fashion and art, in similar ways to his broader body of work, seen most recently at FNB Art Joburg.
The late and much-eulogised Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has for decades been one of multiple-award-winning critic and author Bongani Madondo’s obsessions - and he has many. Remarkably for one so prolific, his location of Basquiat’s mystique and cool, in a political/sartorial universe of his own making is Madondo’s inaugural piece for Wanted. Lastly, talking about great writers, I am delighted that our regular contributor, Dr Wamuwi Mbao, has agreed to make our relationship official, as we debut his new column, “Against the Current”.
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