Surviving a life on the auction trail…
LAST WEEK marked SA’s first MasterCard Style in the City, a fashion extravaganza at Cape Town’s Waterfront.
The glam gala dinner that launched it (in heels, naturally) included TV make-over gurus Trinny and Susannah, swearing like sailors, calling everyone darling, and enchanting most of those who attended.
There was also a fashion show and an auction of red dresses, each of which had been designed by a top talent and modelled by a women’s magazine editor.
Happily, this included me. And while I’m under no illusion about any kind of modelling career, a girl’s got to get a thrill from swanning down a ramp in a scarlet Jacques Lagrange creation that combines her two fashion fantasies: 1950s Italian starlets and Jessica Rabbit, the animated vamp who memorably declared, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”.
Even more amazing than the adrenalin-infused model moment, complete with make-up artists, bright lights and borrowed diamonds, was the auction.
It was for a noble cause – The Heart and Stroke Foundation – but, unusually, I applied fiscal-and selfdiscipline and resisted the urge to wave like a mad thing.
The late lamented shebeen king Lucky Michaels once told me that he believed everyone had the same number of virtues and vices.
“Some of us concentrate them and some spread them out,” he pronounced.
Praise the Lord, I’ve never had a problem with crack, alcohol or gambling, but auctions...
Well, I’ve bid on everything from jewellery (great) to gilt eagle-framed mirrors (I know, I know – at the very moment when a trusted interior designer friend was hysterically mouthing “Don’t buy them, they’re horrible!” the gavel fell and the monsters were mine).
At an auction just after that, I begged fellow guests to check that I sat on my hands. It went wrong and next thing I knew, I’d bought… well, I wasn’t sure exactly what, but there it was… Sold to the confused looking lady in black!
My crowning misguided auction experience was the Fancourt Ball a few years ago. Fuelled by two glasses of wine and a vat of party spirit, I placed the first bid on the first lot. After all, it was for a children’s charity.
Up for grabs and starting at R11 000: three months’ access to the resort’s renowned fairways.
I had no idea whether this was a good or a bad deal for golfers. But it turned out to be a particularly bad deal for me. An ominous silence descended.
“Whose bid was that?” the auctioneer peered into the gloaming. A spotlight was trained on my stricken face.
“You don’t play golf,” he said, instantly intuiting that I actually run away from tennis balls and have to be reminded that tries, not goals, are scored in rugby. Then his eyes lit up, “Oh,” he said, “it’s for your hubby.”
Alas, no resolution there. I wasn’t married and even if I were I would never spend R11 000 on his golf.
In one of those nightmarish out-of-body experiences, I gave myself a firm talking to.
“You’ll have to borrow from the bank. This will teach you not to be reckless. Count yourself lucky it’s for a good cause.” But in a parallel universe, a cry escaped.
“Somebody, please help!” I wailed. “I only did this for the children!”
And, miraculously, somebody did. Perhaps my gallant knight was hoping somebody would help him, too. It turned out that he didn’t need to pay for access; he was already a Fancourt member.
So you won’t be surprised to hear that he drank heavily for the rest of the night and that he still hasn’t responded to my thank you letter.
But on the off-chance that he’s reading this, I just want to say – gallant knight, it’s safe to get back into the water.
Hit the auction trail! Attend charity dinners!
I’m not a danger any more and you aren’t obliged to bid for a thing.
But just in case you’re feeling generous, there’s a fabulous red Jacques Lagrange dress… And it really, really is for a good cause.
Fenster is the editor of the fashion and lifestyle magazine Glamour.