Blooming Garden Day celebrated at Kat van Duinen Design, with Babylonstoren and Blomboy!


Yesterday I attended a Garden Party to celebrate today’s  Garden Day, an annual celebration of the enjoyment of our gardens. The Avant-Garde-n celebration was held in the Boutique and Gallery of designer Kat van Duinen and artist Kelly Gough at the Old Biscuit Mill.

I received the invitation from Lauren Shantall Pty Ltd, and my friend Llewellyn Lambert and I decided to dress up in floral outfits, in honour of today. The Garden Party was held at the recently renovated boutique and gallery of Kat van Duinen and her partner Kelly Gough. The boutique was recently revamped from scratch, to a design created by architect Ivan McCarthy, whom I had last seen when he was a waiter at The Test Kitchen, and before that at Tokara, making money then to pay for his six-year studies! Ivan explained that his design allowed for everything inside the boutique to be movable, allowing for flexibility in its presentation. The boutique is in the Old Biscuit Mill. 

Kat van Duinen has also recently opened a boutique in the new Silo District in the Waterfront, close to the Zeitz MOCAA museum of contemporary African art. This boutique space was also designed by architect Ivan, and the outfits offered here are more sophisticated and luxury, compared to those at the Old Biscuit Mill, which are more comfortable linens and cottons. 

Kat told us that she is of Polish origin.  We received a professional looking gift bag, and inside was a very discreet card, with a simple description of what Kat van Duinen stands for: ‘Manufacturers of high quality African-inspired garments, using natural materials designed to fit modern lifestyles. Uncomplicated and functional’. 

We were served a glass of Saltara MCC on arrival, poured by Kelly Gough, who recognised me as a Facebook Friend. He is an artist, and his works will be hung in the shop, doubling up as a Gallery too. Kat shared that Kelly had recently hosted a successful exhibition of his work, and that most of it had sold out, and therefore more works will be added over time. 

Garden Day is an unusual Festival, in that each individual is invited to celebrate his/her garden, be it a sizeable or small one, or even just a collection of pot plants. The Garden Day website explains: ‘Most of the year we plant, water, weed and mulch – work, in other words. Garden Day is a time to toss down that spade, invite family and friends around, kick back and celebrate your garden with them’.  This is the second South African Garden Day. The Garden Day website refers to a new free ‘Gardening with Babylonstoren’ App, which supplies gardening information, provides gardening tips, and allows one to gain gardening advice from top local gardening specialists. 

To suit the Garden Day theme, Babylonstoren had set up a beautiful table with ingredients to make fruit teas, including lemons, ginger, mint, as well as a variety of flowers from the famous Babylonstoren garden. Gundula Deutschlander wore a beautiful skirt made with a garden-inspired fabric, and a Kat van Duinen blouse, accentuated with a flower in her hair. She prepared the Fruit Teas, and we were offered a Rose Tea (left), a Mint Tea, and a Lemon and Dandelion (good detox properties) Root Tea.  

We were encouraged to try the floral sweet treats, the chocolate tarts and lemon meringue tarts made by Martjie Malan, who owns M Patisserie in Stellenbosch, a temple to sweet treats to buy or to eat with Tea or coffee. Martjie is the talented sister of architect Ivan, and came second in the first season of Koekedoor. The tarts were beautifully decorated with caper flowers. 

The highlight was a demonstration of how easy (or so it looked) it is to create a flower crown, created by the floral expert Blomboy, as Alwijn Burger is better known. I had not previously met Alwijn, but had seen his name mentioned in posts by Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen of JAN restaurant in Nice, and he told me that he is doing the flowers for the launch of Chef Jan-Hendrik’s series on Via TV soon. Kat’s young daughter Charlotte wore a creation made by her mother, with a rooster feather boa, and had her hair pinned up. Alwijn talked us through the steps of creating Charlotte’s stunning hair decoration, tying a pink band around her head first. He added a branch of this and a flower of that, pinning each to the ribbon, to make it hold. The final creation of Erika fynbos, roses, and even some green orchids, was covered with pink mesh, and some flowers added over it, as a final finishing touch. Charlotte looked perfectly dressed to go to a head-turning society horse race! 

This was one of the most unusual events I have been invited to, not only in being able to try on a Kat van Duinen creation, with a promise of a personalized dress consultation with Kat in her Silo District branch, but also to celebrate such an unusual Garden Day festival with a garden-inspired event. 

Disclosure: we received a bottle of Saltara MCC Brut Nature with our Media pack. 

POSTSCIPT 15/10: There can be no greater gift for Garden Day than the rain falling today, and forecast for tomorrow. 

POSTSCRIPT 17/10: Today I popped in at the Kat van Duinen store in the Silo District at the Waterfront, and succumbed to a gorgeous gold silk dress. I got goosebumps when I saw this painting by artist Kelly Gough. 

Kat van Duinen Design, Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, Cape Town. Tel (021) 447-6582 Twitter: @katvanduinen Instagram: @katvanduinen

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Twitter: @Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram:@chris_ulmenstein


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