Col­lect­ing Beauty

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Christo Va­len­tyn Images © Mai­son Mara

Afew years ago, while on a busi­ness trip in the South of France, I un­ex­pect­edly found my­self with the larger part of a day free to do as I pleased. Hav­ing seen ev­ery­thing I wanted to in Nice, I hopped over to Monte Carlo in the prin­ci­pal­ity of Monaco. The play­ground of the rich, fa­mous, and royal, it’s a tiny part of our planet that I have al­ways been fas­ci­nated by.

My love for the ocean re­sulted in hours spent just star­ing at the mul­ti­tude of yachts and su­per yachts docked in the har­bour, while the petrol­head in me squealed in de­light with ev­ery su­per­car that roared past. Nat­u­rally, the fash­ion­ista in me spent the rest of the time gawk­ing at all the fab­u­lous de­signer brand shops lin­ing the streets. All in all, it was a fab­u­lous (al­beit typ­i­cally touristy) day in Monte Carlo.

In hind­sight, the thing that fas­ci­nated me the most was how a street filled with de­signer cloth­ing was the norm in Monte Carlo. It re­minded me of the old adage that true style and lux­ury isn’t os­ten­ta­tious and in-your-face, but sub­tle and el­e­gant. To this day, the el­e­gant streets of Monte Carlo, with nor­mal shop win­dows and small signs next to the doors, re­main the pic­ture of style and el­e­gance that I keep with me.

This is the same feel­ing you would get when you turn into Jarvis Street in Green Point, Cape Town. The more mod­ern vis­age of the Cape Quar­ter on your right may dis­tract you, but if you take a step back and fo­cus on the left, the fab­u­lous old houses could eas­ily dou­ble for a Euro­pean street scene. You may also no­tice a spe­cific white house with a large, but un­pre­ten­tious black sign read­ing “Mai­son Mara”. If you’ve never stopped and vis­ited, I urge you to do so the next time you are in the Green Point precinct.

Owned and man­aged by Kelly Withey, Mai­son Mara is a con­cept store birthed from Withey’s many so­journs be­tween Cape Town and Paris. She grew up on lo­cal soil and moved to Paris to study fash­ion de­sign, but while there, she dis­cov­ered that her pas­sion ac­tu­ally lay in buy­ing. Mai­son Mara is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of this pas­sion. It is a space that rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing she wanted to bring with her from Paris.

Mai­son Mara presents ready-to-wear women’s wear, ac­ces­sories, and cos­met­ics, all hand­picked by Withey. It’s not just about the beau­ti­ful clothes, though – you can also find can­dles from Costes and Lola James Harper at Mai­son Mara, as well as cool fash­ion mag­a­zines like Pur­ple, Pop, and Spleen Fac­tory, not to men­tion the best art books from Phaidon.

With Sum­mer around the cor­ner, Withey has added a wide se­lec­tion of new items to Mai­son Mara that presents lovers of beau­ti­ful things with an op­por­tu­nity to build on their favourite looks and to add new favourites to their col­lec­tion. This very con­cept is also true for Withey.

Nar­row­ing down her favourites for the new sea­son – all of which are avail­able at Mai­son Mara, of course – the first item she high­lights is the Veja Hol­i­day sneak­ers in Nude. “They are mind­fully and eth­i­cally cre­ated in Brazil from leather which has a

low im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment,” she says. “I like sneak­ers that you can pair with a dress to give your out­fit a bit of an edge, but are still fem­i­nine. The fact that they are eco-friendly just makes me love them even more.”

But what about those beau­ti­ful sum­mer evenings when sneak­ers need to make way for some­thing a bit more el­e­gant? “My dream go­ing-out shoe is the Mau­reen leather heel with pointed toe and leather arched straps by Malone Souliers,” Withey says. “Apart from their ob­vi­ous aes­thetic qual­i­ties, they are just so com­fort­able. In­spired by cleav­age, they are both sexy and el­e­gant.”

Sub­scrib­ing to the idea that one’s wardrobe ba­sics should be up to date, Withey is a big fan of Petit Bateau. “I can’t live with­out my Petit Bateau ba­sics,” she em­pha­sizes. “The brand of­fers the best qual­ity cot­ton T-shirts and tra­di­tional marinières, and they are truly time­less – I have the round-neck cot­ton T-shirts in ev­ery colour and stripe avail­able. They match with ev­ery­thing and are kind to your skin.

“I also love hav­ing a ver­sa­tile jacket to wear with lay­ers in Win­ter or over your shoul­ders in Sum­mer,” she adds. “This sea­son the Kenzo Khaki Bomber is my favourite. It fea­tures an off-cen­tre front zip panel, and I love the fact that you can re­move the panel to wear it open.”

Be­cause Withey’s per­sonal style re­volves around sim­ple styles that com­bine into a sleek, mod­ern aes­thetic, it comes as no sur­prise that she con­sid­ers a state­ment bag a must-have. This sea­son, she is head-over-heels in love with the J.W. An­der­son medium-sized Pierce Bag, which is avail­able in dusty pink as well as in black and white – Withey’s per­sonal favourite. “Monochromes match so well with denim and sim­ple tees, and the size is per­fect – it’s big enough to be an ev­ery­day bag with­out turn­ing into a suit­case.”

Withey’s love for all things beau­ti­ful is in­spir­ing and strangely con­ta­gious. Mixed with her own im­pec­ca­ble sense of style and a keen eye for time­less el­e­gance, th­ese el­e­ments merge in­side Mai­son Mara to cre­ate a trea­sure trove of amaz­ing things hid­den in plain sight in the heart of Green Point.

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