Cape Town is a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain. Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the mountain’s flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela, which is now a living museum.
Cape View Clifton
There’s luminosity about the Cape View Clifton, a cliffhanging building with huge views over Clifton’s four beaches below and the Atlantic beyond. It may be the Atlantic’s reflection as it’s beamed up and into the sea-facing suites, each with its own balcony and magnificent views. Or maybe the crisp, cool interiors – all white lacquer, creamy linens and pale, tailored accessories – have their own effervescence. Rooms here are big and airy, their stylish decor just a light touch – which is really all you need in the heat. This is contemporary beach house-style living and its modus vivendi of “less clutter is best” hits all the right notes. So take your shoes off. Wear white. Or cream. Be like the decor: effortlessly chic. Enter at the top, at ground level and descend through six floors to the gravity-defying deck and breakfast in the shade by the lap pool. Have a snack or a drink inside at beautifully appointed tables where the service is immaculate. On the lower floor, the apartment -like two- or three-bedroom suites each have a private jacuzzi and there’s provision for self-catering.
Stefania Morland eschews blindly following trends creating, instead, singular, playful pieces that remain classic and timeless. The designer, who has been working in the fashion industry for over twenty years, opened her intimate fashion store and studio on Kloof Street in 2005. She works with only the finest hand-selected natural fibres – delicate silks, linen and cotton – sourced from around the world. At the centre of her collection is a love for layered pieces and expertly constructed garments that can be worn in more than one way to create a more complex look. Her attention to detail – hand stitching, reinforced seams and raw edges – are particularly appreciated by her numerous fans.
With one of the most stylish interiors in Cape Town, Hemelhuijs is a delightful cross between an interior design workspace, showroom and restaurant. But owner and chef Jacques Erasmus is simply doing what comes naturally as one of the city’s pre-eminent food, interior and homeware stylists. Everything is for sale here – from the minimalist furniture to the aesthetic crockery. Seasonal freshness and unexpected tastes are at the heart of every dish on the menu: try the avocado and orange salad with gorgonzola and macadamia nut praline or the coconut fried calamari with a watercress and pine kernel salad accompanied with truffle mayonnaise. Another winner for its seamless blending of contrasting flavours is the chicken with marzipan farcie. Warning: the homemade bread served with little bowls of olive oil lying in wait for patrons at each table is a delicious meal in itself, and the grains of seaweed salt as good as bonbons. The small but carefully selected wine list has standouts such as Springfield’s Wild Yeast Chardonnay. Alternatively, the beetroot, apple juice and fresh ginger cocktail will put a spring in your step after a long-haul flight or late night out. For vitamins with a kick, try iced hibiscus tea with Cointreau, ruby grapefruit and bitter lemon. Or organic vanilla rum with scooped granadilla and naartjie (tangerine) juice.
The Stevenson is a wake up call for art collectors on South Africa’s explosion of contemporary talent. First the founder, Michael Stevenson, upped the ante on local 20th-century landscape and figurative masters when he bought a Gerard Sekoto valued at R15,000 for R125,000 at auction; today, over a decade on, conceptual art and photography are the gallery’s focus. But art collecting in South Africa is still rather “an old man’s game” according to some gallerists – a J.H. Pierneef landscape may now go for millions of rand, but a neorealist nude photograph is not what most South Africans want in their living room – so Stevenson touts its stars at Frieze New York and London, Art Basel in Miami and Paris Photo. There is Nicholas Hlobo – a protégé of Anish Kapoor who has exhibited at the Tate Modern – world-acclaimed photographers Pieter Hugo, Guy Tillim and Daniel Naudé; and dynamic sculptors such as Will Botha and Ian Grose. Another rising star here is Zanele Muholi, known for her brave, exuberant photographs of lesbian couples; South Africa was one of the first countries to allow gay marriage, but gays are not always appreciated in the townships. The front of this vast, airy gallery is devoted to artists’ monographs published by Stevenson; browse these then work your way round the lofty rooms, rather like the New Museum in New York. Artists such as Francis Alÿs, Rineke Dijkstra and Thomas Hirschhornthat that Stevenson is bringing to South Africa through its Forex (Foreign Exchange) projects will feel right at home here.
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