My Oscars Best-Dressed List for 2017

I haven’t done a fashion-related post for a while, so I simply couldn’t miss the opportunity of rounding up my favourite fashion moments from this year’s Academy Awards.

Aside from the Best Picture Award mix-up (which I happened to catch live on television, in the early hours of the South African morning…and, yes, it was #superembarrassing) the most entertaining part of the whole event, for me, was of course the fashion.

So, here is a list of my top ten Oscar looks from this year’s red carpet arrivals and Vanity Fair after-party appearances.

No 10 | Kirsten Dunst

The blonde actress rocked the red carpet in a black Christian Dior Haute Couture gown. But, what really got this look onto my list was her incredible choice of accessories (diamond necklace & earrings both by Japanese fine jewellery brand, Niwaka) complemented by perfectly on-point hair and makeup.

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No 9 | Jennifer Aniston 

OK, we all know Jen always wears black. To every event. Always. And, yes, it wouldn’t kill her to deviate a tad. But – because it’s Jen and I am still an embarrassingly-obsessed Friends fan – I simply couldn’t exclude her. Plus, I reckon her body deserves an Academy Award of its own. The girl’s 48 years old, for heaven’s sakes.

PS This plunging Atelier Versace gown was previously worn by Jennifer Lopez at Radio City Music Hall, which makes me love Ms Aniston and her refreshing devil-may-care approach even more.

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No 8 | Amy Adams 

The red-haired fashion maven stunned in this glamorous yet super modern Tom Ford show-stopper. Those curls, reminiscent of old-world Hollywood, were pretty impeccable too.

PS Amy wore a pair of our Paka Paka earrings to the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Premiere in March 2016, so the girl clearly has taste and she’ll have this aspirational South African jewellery designer’s loyalty for some time to come.

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No 7 | Alicia Vikander 

Love this festive black number (by Louis Vuitton). Adore this actress. Obsessed with this Bulgari necklace (and the way she teamed it with that casual, innocent little top-knot). The strappy heels are winners, too.

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No 6 | Hailee Steinfeld 

This dress is dreamy, romantic, ethereal perfection. Nobody does high-voltage evening glamour quite like Ralph & Russo. I particularly love how she’s matched this very feminine dress with fiercely made-up eyes (I make no secret of my penchant for a (very) smokey eye). Just ask my go-to makeup maestro Renee De Wit.

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No 5 | Hailee Steinfeld 

Hailee got into a much more seductive number, also by Ralph & Russo, for the Vanity Fair after-party.  This look was sultry, sexy and sheer, yet just enough mystery remained to keep things elegant and glamorous.

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N0 4 | Thandie Newton 

I must admit I had never heard of this designer before spotting Ms Newton in this glittery rock-n-roll sensation, but Italian luxury brand, Schiaparelli, is now firmly on my (and probably everybody else’s) fashion radar. As the fabulously OTT celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe would put it, “this look is everything”.

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No 3 | Jessica Biel 

This form-fitting metallic Kaufman Franco gown and Jessica Biel’s body were quite simply a match made in Hollywood heaven.  The dress, the body, the necklace and of course her drooling husband, Justin Timberlake…the whole darn package was just one big fabulous feast for the eyes.

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No 2 | Chrissy Teigen

Let me start by saying, I love this girl. Chrissy was one of the first celebrities to buy one of my Paka Paka rings, right out off the floor of our Los Angeles showroom. Let’s just say that gave me (a very humble and grateful) spring in my step for a few days!

I was also lucky enough to meet the insanely talented and delightful Zuhair Murad (who designed this sensational dress) when I was wedding dress hunting in Paris last year. I am in love with each and every one of his designs and this one is no exception.

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No 1 | Emma Stone 

And the award goes to…the girl who got The Award (Best Actress, La La Land). Yes, she is probably at the top of every other best-dressed Oscar list out there, but credit must be given where credit is due. The 28-year-old star owned the red carpet (and the night) in this golden delicious 40’s inspired Givenchy gown, complemented by the perfect Hollywood hairstyle and impeccably painted brown-red lips (she wore NARS Audacious Lipstick in Mona, in case you’re wondering). The height of red carpet magic.

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Hope you enjoyed my best-dressed list! I’ll definitely be drawing some inspiration from these glamorous gals for my next black-tie event.

Love, Clare.

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Jo-Ann Strauss on Finding Balance, Handling Self-doubt & Flirting with George Clooney

jo-annstraussglobalcriticJo-Ann Strauss is one of those girls it would be easy enough to hate. Not only is this former beauty queen and university graduate a self-made media mogul and one of South Africa’s most iconic faces, but she is also married to an almost uncomfortably attractive surgeon (her very own McDreamy) with two gorgeous toddlers filling their home in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town. Oh, and I forgot to mention, she’s had personal interactions with the likes of George Clooney and Nelson Mandela – yep, that should do it.

However, as someone who has known Jo for a few years now and seen her go from strength to strength without ever losing sight of what really matters, I can see why she is (on the contrary) adored by so many: both those that know her on a personal level and the South African public, at large.

She exudes that rare and delicate combination of aspirational glamour and down-to-earth authenticity that simply makes her, well, impossible to hate. Instead, she can’t help but inspire. It’s for that very reason that I asked Jo to share some of her personal stories with us, right here on The Global Critic. Of course, being the supportive friend that she is, she graciously obliged (whilst being out of town for work on a super tight schedule).

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Despite her insanely busy life, Jo-Ann always makes time to pause and celebrate life’s special moments: this was taken at her birthday lunch in 2015 at the fabulous Grand Beach Cafe in Cape Town.

Jo-Ann, you stepped into the spotlight in 2000 when you were crowned Miss South Africa. Many beauty queens are one-hit-wonders and disappear from the scene after their reign, yet you have steadily maintained your position in the spotlight. Was this always the plan?

jo-ann-strauss-miss-south-afric-768x768I never planned on staying in the spotlight, so this was not quite a focus for me. Before I had entered Miss SA, my long-term goal was to work in the media industry, so I knew that the pageant would be a good move strategically and I leveraged my contacts and networks accordingly.

I had initially planned to become the MD of a huge media company. Now, when I look at how things have turned out, I enjoy the flexibility that being a media entrepreneur affords me, as I have time to travel and spend time with my family.

What was the first step you took towards fulfilling your dreams of working in the media?

After my reign as Miss South Africa, my immediate priority was finishing my Bachelor of Commerce degree at Stellenbosch University and so that’s what I did. My career in media actually started during this period. When I wasn’t in class, I was television presenting, while other students had jobs as waiters and waitresses.

What was your very first job in television and how did you land it?  

My first job in television was for the SABC lifestyle show, Pasella. I started working on 1 April 2001 and thought it was quite an apt date (being April Fool’s Day) as they had me in a ballgown and stilettos, prancing about in the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn. But, like everyone else, I first had to audition.

Were you nervous as a newbie television presenter or did it come rather naturally?

I had been exposed to some television work through Miss SA, so I was ok, but not quite a natural.

From there, how did your career evolve to where it is today?

After my time at Pasella, I started presenting for Top Billing and ZDF, Germany’s largest television channel. From there, my reach into the media world steadily expanded: I started my own television production company, became an ambassador for large international brands like Lux and Samsung and launched an online presenter search (www.socialstar.me), which quickly morphed into a huge social media competition and has been running for three years now.  Through this, I have helped many youngsters break into the media world, including Mishka Patel who has presented for Pasella. I am currently producing a new reality series, to be unveiled soon.

Everyone has dreams. What do you think differentiates those who have dreams from those who go out and make them reality?

I live by a mantra, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” I think some people wait on others to fulfil their dreams. That way, their dreams remain dreams.

It would be easy for the public to look at your life and assume you have it all: a gorgeous husband, two healthy kids and a dynamic career. What makes you human and what do you struggle with from time to time?

I am constantly struggling to juggle everything and am so grateful for my husband being a supportive man … and a damn good-looking one at that;) When I have moments of self-doubt, which I do, he pours me a big glass of red wine and tells me to put on my big-girl panties! Overall, however, I do feel super blessed and say thank you every day.

What are your moments about self-doubt about? 

I had a major impostor-complex as Miss SA, as I never felt I was the prettiest girl in the competition. I experienced some hurtful media scrutiny from radio DJ’s who said some nasty things about me, when I was still 19 and wearing the sash. But, I soon adopted the attitude that I simply couldn’t let others’ perceptions of me detract from my own truth and living my life. I am older and more confident now, but I definitely still have my moments.

Who have you most enjoyed meeting during your career as a media personality?

I was honored to have met Nelson Mandela a few times; his humility made a lasting impression.

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Name some other celebrities you have had the opportunity of meeting. 

George Clooney, Bono, Kim Kardashian, Elton John, Heidi Klum … there have been quite a few, so it’s impossible to list them. An “occupational hazard,” I guess;)

Which celebrity surprised you the most and why?

George Clooney was hilarious and so kind. He threw in some unexpected answers to my questions, containing the odd sexual innuendo, which made me blush. But, luckily, I managed to hold it together and make him blush in return with a few witty retorts.

What is Kim Kardashian like in person?

jo-ann-kimkardashian-clarewiese-globalcriticI met Kim at a fashion gala in Monaco. She was initially quite aloof, but after she realised we were seated at the same table, she became curious and a bit more chatty.

She was actually quite sweet, but I understand why she is so stand-offish.

Thousands of people were staring at her every move and her huge engagement ring. This was just after she became engaged to Kris Humphries.

What is the craziest interview question you have ever been asked?

I was asked which celebrity I’d want to sleep with.

And…what was your answer? You can’t leave us hanging!

I said Angelina Jolie. I figured I might as well make the interviewer’s jaw drop too;)!

If you could interview one person (dead or alive) who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d interview Reeva Steenkamp and ask her what happened that fateful night.

What has been your favourite fashion moment of all time?

My wedding dresses. I had asked my friend and one of my favourite local designers, Gideon, to design them and he created three incredible dresses that perfectly reflected my personality.

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Who is your fashion icon and why?

Jessica Alba. She understands subtlety and effortless style.

What are your best spots in Cape Town?

Which beauty products can you not live without?

I love everything from La Mer. Their Renewal Oil is amazing. I also love The Mist and, of course, their iconic Crème De La Mer.

Finish these sentences:

  • I never leave home without my Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone. It takes the best pictures.
  • I would hate to be in a closed room with a praying mantis. I’m terrified of them!
  • My favourite book of all time is The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho.
  • My favourite movie of all time is Zoolander.

Is there a down-side to fame in South Africa?

I think maybe the fact that it’s not as financially rewarding as in the States, but on the flip-side, it’s also not as intrusive as elsewhere and you can still live a “normal” life.

You recently started a blog about the challenges of being a mother in modern times.

I started my blog, Modern Mommy, in 2014 and try to spend as much time as I can on it, but it’s hard to focus fully on it as I have a few other businesses and a family that require my attention. I would however like to use my blog as a tool to empower “mompreneurs” and share useful tips with other mothers. I have been encouraged by the response the blog has received thus far.

What is the biggest challenge facing modern mommies today and how do you handle being a mom, a businesswoman, a friend and a wife?

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-18-33-21The challenge is the guilt. You feel guilty when working too much and being away from home. When you’re at home with the family, you feel guilty for not working. Even now, as I am sitting, typing these answers (at 05h35), I am trying to make sure that the tapping of the computer keys doesn’t wake up my baby.

There are simply not enough hours in the day, so I work when I can, often sacrifice my beauty sleep and rely heavily on concealer and eye drops!

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your mother?

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

If you could teach your kids one indispensable lesson about life, what would it be?

Be kind.

What are your rules for living a well-rounded, happy life?

There are no rules, but I try to make a conscious decision every day to focus on that which makes me and those important to me, happy. You can’t please everyone, so it’s pointless trying.

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