Friends of Tresemme hair brand at the Greyville Racecourse for the Hollywoodbets Durban July on Saturday. Photo:

Friends of Tresemme hair brand at the Greyville Racecourse for the Hollywoodbets Durban July on Saturday. Photo:

Rosetta Msimango/CityPress


Uncomfortable as winter is, South Africans look forward to July as this is the month that is synonymous with high-end fashion and rubbing shoulders with celebrities, entertainers, social media influencers and other public figures at the HollywoodbetsDurban July.

Glitz, glam and face beats are the order of the day in this horse racing phenomenon that is also accompanied by the best entertainment in the country and possibly the continent.

Jockey JP van der Merwe and his horse Oriental Charm on their way to winning yesterday’s race at the Greyville Racecourse in Durban

But 127 years into the first Durban July, are themes still a thing, and more importantly, are the attendees still adhering to these?

READ: Glitz and glamour at this year’s Durban July

This year’s theme was Riding the Wave, and a lot of people interpreted this as water as is evident in the arrays of blue shades on the ground. In celebville, it seems the theme still carries meaning as was evident in the outfits draped around the stunning bodies of Jessica Nkosi,Big Brother Mzansi 2021 housemate Liema Phantsi and others.

However, my observation of the general public was that South Africans are pushing the fashion envelope in the boldness of how they express themselves outside of the theme. The conversation in the shuttle from the hotel room to the racecourse was themed “the algorithm likes what it likes”.

Shane Botha and Candice Steyn at the racecourse

Regardless of themes and regulations put forward by event organisers, if a certain colour, fabric or style is what is trending at the time that their event is scheduled to take place, the people are more likely to follow trends than adhere to themes.

Lifestyle and fashion influencer Tumi Powerhouse’s opinion was that South Africans still adhered to themes to a degree, but their relevance was a whole different discussion.

She said:

I saw a lot of blue so people are adhering. Themes are great but let them not define how I dress, or how I should show up. What if I don’t like anything that has to do with waves? My interpretation also of waves may not necessarily be what people would perceive to be fashionable.

A Durban July returnee, Tumi Powerhouse expressed concern over what she said was the growing inclination among South Africans across genders to simulate Nigeria.

South African girls, guys, they, and thems dress absolutely amazing, she added, however, in recent years there has been a huge Nigerian influence that seems to have taken over. This can be witnessed in the style and colour schemes that some of this year’s Durban July attendees showed up in.

My colleague Rosetta Msimango and I struggled to capture photographic content, especially that of some of Mzansi’s favourite celebrities due to logistical issues at the event.

Swazi Shabangu was also dressed to the nines

However, our shared opinion was that most attendees were underdressed and apart from splashes of blue that were rather few and far between, there was very little care towards the theme. For the most part, people looked like their outfits and make-up were cut from the same cloth and put together by people who shared the same DNA.

We attend quite a few of these together, my colleague and I, and evidently, the TRESemmé team did the pots with my make-up because never before has she ever had something half as nice to say about my appearance as she did at the Durban July.

PHOTOS: Durban July brings back the glitz and glam

Marquees are convenient for the purposes of sitting pretty and relaxing among beautiful people in gorgeous garments, but the chaos makes for a nightmare when it comes to keeping up with the horsing action. Between the DJ securing their bag, the human traffic and the content creation that takes place inside the confines of the marquee, the monitors that are meant to keep the public updated on the race may as well be declared obsolete. The fact that the tags from the various marquees don’t grant you access to the actual race is also problematic, then again if all and sundry had access to the main event, this would potentially be a logistical nightmare for the organisers.

An unidentified reveller spared no expense in looking the part at the annual event

Black and white was actually more dominant than the Ride the Wave theme this year. Some gentlemen pulled up in pink suits, some youth made their not-so-grand entrance in jeans and some fashionably lazy folk even rocked up in chinos. Some people’s excuse was that themes are open to interpretation but when the creator blesses the earth with a denim wave, I am definitely going to be first in line to take that content.

One thing about Durban weather though, she is the queen she thinks she is because, for all intents and purposes, this is a high fashion event. It would be tragic if the weather compelled people to layer themselves in thick coats and boots instead of showing up in their most stunning version of themselves.

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