“Welcome to my private little intimate dinner. Everybody that’s here is here for a reason, because you’re either cool, fun special or great… or a little trendsetter. Basically you’re here because you’re the shit. Thank you for coming all the way to my home town to help me celebrate the launch of my collection, adidas Originals by Rita Ora. We’ve got an exciting 26.5 hours of Unstoppable fun lined up for you, so I hope you’re ready!”
– Rita Ora
Following our interviews, our 26.5 hours with Rita continued with the Influencers Dinner, where myself, eleven other bloggers from around the world and other publications like Vogue, Grazia and Elle enjoyed phenomenal sit-down at an old Notting Hill theatre, which was transformed for the occasion. I was extra impressed when seeing the very special effort they made to prepare halaal food for me for the five-course meal. The table was set with Pastel Pack iPhone 5 covers for all of us, Polaroid cameras to capture the night and paper doll cutouts of each range (I used to LOVE paper dolls!), while the collection was displayed throughout the space.
It was here where I really got to know and hang out with some super cool girls like Michal and Mayra from Eve Without Adam, who are based in Berlin and transformed their blog into a creative agency; Evelien Tomaszewski, a fashion editor/writer/blogger for Grazia in the Netherlands; as well as the incredible Alexis Knox, an international DJ, stylist and brand ambassador for adidas Originals UK (she’s styled Rita, Iggy, Nicole Scherzinger, Miley and Ciara!); Soki Mak, another renowned UK-based stylist; and the lovely Maria Pizzeria from the UK/Thailand had me laughing and inspired. Then there was Rita of course, completely chilled to be hanging out with all of us, floating from table to table chatting to everyone, cutting up the paper doll versions of herself and her range, and being the best host to her guests. I think that was the overall highlight of this whole trip for me. Everyone was just so NICE. Everyone sat with everyone. Everyone was friends with everyone. I never saw a single side-eye, heard a single bitchy comment, experienced a single ego or ever felt unwelcome, even though I was in the presence of so many established people. In SA our fashion industry is so small, filled with competition, bitchiness and exclusion – and I am by no means innocent. Experiencing such humility and kindness was both humbling, inspiring and a real eye-opener as to the type of person I want to be.
The second best thing about this night was finally getting to wear my Margiela X H&M deconstructed leather jacket. I bought it in Frankfurt about two years ago, and valued it as a prized artwork in my closet. I never ever wore it. The construction was just too special to be at some underwhelming Cape Town launch or fashion week. I knew people wouldn’t get it, and would wonder why Aqeelah’s jacket had unfinished cut-outs at the armpits. As I chatted to Rita at dinner, she stroked my sleeves and back and said, “I love your coat, it’s Margiela for H&M, right?”, at which point I tried to act completely chilled like I wear Margiela all the time, like I’m used to celebrities rubbing me and like I didn’t treat this piece as if it was made of unicorn hide.
She really was the coolest girl, and it’s hard to believe she’s only 23. There’s a very good reason why I actually have very few photographs of her. She was so relaxed around everyone, that taking anything other than a single, ordinary picture with her made me feel creepy. Maybe it’s just the Cape Townian in me that respects a celebrity’s space. Before the Unstoppable events, I followed Rita for a long time on social media because I always found her overall aesthetic interesting and noteworthy, before I even started to enjoy her music.
I think it’s now safe to say experiencing her company and talent up close has transformed me from a vague admirer to a bit of a “Rita Bot” :)