Black is (or was in January 2011) clearly the new black, especially if it is black on black, short, and on skyscraper (black) heels. And it was into this sea of black that I ventured in grey and denim! I was attending the Luxury Briefing Conference in London in January – an eminent gathering of top trend and luxury gurus in the magnificent Royal Institute of Great Britain. My mid-grey coat, dark skinnies and black boots might as well have been fluoro lime hi-shine lycra. Of course my trusty wheelie-wheelie yielded a long-time favourite little black dress and heels for day two of the event. And I merged then into the milieu as desired.
This got me thinking of how just a few fundamental ‘elements’ have come to denote style, taste, confidence and even status. For women, these essentials include a perfect, crisp white shirt, an immaculate Little Black Dress and a pristine pair of black ‘heels’. The concept of classic style and luxury, as epitomised by the Little Black Dress (or LBD to its fans and friends), can always be relied upon as a mark of quality, even integrity, regardless of changes in style and era. It’s a classic that reinvents itself from a base level of confidence that it is so right so often, especially when flawlessly designed and executed. It will always be a measure by which one’s choices can be judged.
So, metaphorically, understanding one’s LBD could be applied to any human, brand or business: When the pressure’s on, or when the agenda isn’t clear, or even when it’s just really important to move forward with confidence and clarity – what’s your LBD? What are the essential, integral qualities that have served you, stayed relevant, held agile through celebration and tribulation? What aspects of your core are reflected in your selected outer cover?
Hmmm … so what is Cape Grace’s little black dress and what is our way of reflecting it? Aside from Table Mountain and beautiful Cape Town’s Waterfront (which we can’t claim to ‘own’ unfortunately), Cape Grace’s LBD has to be in its human DNA. We inherited a beautiful philosophy of humility, gratitude and generosity (or ‘grace’ translated literally as ‘undeserved favour’) from our founding family, the Brands. The ethic of warmth and joyful service that shines from our chauffeurs, florists, housekeepers, porters, reservationists and waitrons still remains.
One of the first moments in which I experienced this first-hand occurred about halfway through my first year with Cape Grace: It was a Cape of Storms-type winter, we were re-fashioning the hotel floor-by-floor, the conditions were stressful, tricky, busy and challenging all round. I arrived at a scheduled meeting in one of our newly re-fashioned penthouses to find a fashion show by the housekeeping staff. They not only modelled their new uniforms-to-complement-the-new-décor; but they’d conceptualised, designed, costed and stitched every item themselves too. They modelled the line with a swish of a feather duster here, and a mock polish of a table top there, and just a very few quickly-clamped giggles and flourishes. Women with families, shift-work and commuting, and what could be thought of by many as among the least gratifying daily task-loads of any worker, had found time, energy and delight to produce their own LBDs. They’re still wearing their beautiful, practical and stylish new uniforms now, nearly three years later.
- Words by Cape Grace’s Head of Sales & Marketing, Carol Stent