Editor, stylist, entrepreneur and
now salonnière, the South African visionary has a tête-à-tête with Nataal about fashion and female empowerment
With her lustrous silver hair, signature slick of scarlet lipstick and penchant for manly tuxedos, Jackie Burger would not be out of place as the heroine in a 1950s Hollywood movie. But there’s nothing old fashioned about this formidable woman. She’s cut an influential dash through South Africa’s fashion industry for decades. And having ended her long tenure at Elle last year, she continues to break fresh ground with Salon 58, a series of authentic events in intimate settings around Cape Town. Each one brings together artists, designers and writers for shared conversation surrounded by style, beauty and food. Here the award-winning editor shares her words of wisdom with Nataal.
“My life has been a culmination of serendipity. I graduated in sociology and worked in a commercial retail for 15 years. I was then approached by Fair Lady to reinvigorate the title, which hosted the SA Fashion Awards. In 2006 I was offered an opportunity to work on marketing and branding at Elle and became editor two years later. My proudest achievements during that time were setting up an internship programme and the Elle Rising Star awards. Nurturing the potential of young minds is a value that sits strongly in my soul. When you’ve been blessed with a rewarding life, you must use your wisdom to give back.”
“In 2012 I visited Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment and was struck by the ambience of her salon where she received guests. I started researching and discovered this incredible chapter of 17th century history when women mobilised themselves through social engagement in lounges. This resonates with me. In our fast paced life where communication happens on digital platforms, it’s easy to forget the importance of having one to one, opinionated conversation. So I married my time in publishing with the principles of a salon. The easiest analogy is to call it a live magazine.”
On the Salon 58 experience
“Each salon has a theme - Noir, Magic, Allure - that I curate local content and collaborators around. It’s a place of substance and discovery where you leave having afforded yourself the time to share in the essence of creativity. It also fosters a community of sustainable entrepreneurs in South Africa who support each other and their consumer.”
On some of her favourite designers
Black Coffee uses innovative pattern cutting and prints.Simon & Mary is a traditional company producing impeccably made wool hats with swag.Black Betty offers earthy gold and diamond jewellery. Daddy & Fox is a young company focussing on luxurious sleepwear and accessories. And Nicholas Coutts makes one of a kind, hand woven scarves.”
"Salon 58 is a place of substance and discovery where you leave having afforded yourself the time to share in the essence of creativity"
“I’ve never had a big wardrobe. I grew up on a farm surrounded by the beauty of seasonal abundance and the idea that it’s more important to make than to own, which I still apply to my style. I’ve gone through cycles but as I’ve grown older I’ve achieved a level of self-acceptance. Now I rely on the emotion of wearing a certain colour, pattern or piece of jewellery. It’s about the exuberance of dressing for your creative self each day, so it might be a vintage suit, a white shirt or a turban. I love the old world glamour of Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. Today’s trailblazers such as Tilda Swinton and Lauren Hutton also live their strength. And at Salon 58 we’ve honoured the likes of Anet Pienaar Vosloo, Jena Dover, Jess van Wyk, Doreen de Waal, Pnina Fenster, Jenna Bruwer, Lizma Van Zyl, Lindiwe Suttle, Leonie Von Hase and Asanda Sizani.”
“Before I left Elle, I launched the Women In Society project, which looked at the issues surrounding women in South Africa. There’s now a lot of emphasis on youth culture, which is booming after years of oppression. And there are certainly wider opportunities from a socio economic viewpoint. But in reality we are still a patriarchal society and women struggle to have the conviction of knowing that it’s up to them to make the change. Women are everywhere - the nurturers, the breadwinners and the educators - so it’s time for us to celebrate ourselves and be unified. I hope that all of the wonderful influencers out there today empower us to achieve whatever we set out to do.”