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Meet the Glamour Women of the Year

South African women making their mark in a range of fields will be feted at the annual Glamour Women of the Year banquet.

The event will be held at the Southern Sun Hyde Park in Hyde Park Corner on Saturday, October 1.

Crystal Kasper and Palesa Mahlaba of The Duo Desk, who won The Next Big Thing award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Jerri Mokgofe

Here are the eight stars...

THE NEXT BIG THING: Crystal Kasper and Palesa Mahlaba of The Duo Desk

For most us of, turning up at events in the same outfits as someone else would be cause for embarrassment or irritation. But for Crystal Kasper, 28, and Palesa Mahlaba, 29, it was the spark for a creative new venture.

"Crystal and I met two years ago. She was my assistant when I was fashion editor at True Love," says Palesa. "When I went freelance, she helped out, and it was around that time that we found ourselves showing up for shoots and events coincidentally dressed alike."

Inspired by international bloggers like Cailli and Sam Beckerman, who were making twinning a trend, Palesa and Crystal set up their Instagram account, The Duo Desk (@theduodesk), in June 2015.

They made a strong and striking team. Palesa, with her background in fashion and PR, had 64k followers on Instagram (@simplypalesa), and Crystal, with her background in marketing, had her own blog, New Hipster, as well as 48.1k Instagram followers (@newhipsterstyle). Within six months, the pair were hosting events, giving trend talks and collaborating with brands like Sunglass Hut and Witchery.

Next up in their strategy: a website focusing on fashion, lifestyle and beauty as well as an online consultancy for social media marketing and PR. Despite the appeal of twinning, however, Crystal and Palesa also want their individuality to shine through.

"The difference between fashion and style is that style isn't influenced by others," notes Palesa.

Crystal adds, "My personal style is constantly evolving as I discover new things about myself."

THE GENEROUS SPIRIT: Brigitte Reeve-Taylor

glamour women of the year

Brigitte Reeve-Taylor, who won The Generous Spirit award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Sebastian Voigt

Dance teacher Brigitte Reeve-Taylor was driving into Cape Town in 2011 when she saw a desperate puppy on the roadside. "He had no fur and could hardly walk," she recalls. "And I just couldn't leave him there - even though it took 90 minutes to catch him, so that I could take him to the vet. I was happy to see him healed and later adopted by a friend, but I couldn't stop thinking about other vulnerable dogs."

And that was how Brigitte came to combine two of her great loves - dance and dogs - to establish Dancers Love Dogs, a charity drive that funds sterilisation programmes which reduce over breeding, strays and suffering.

Brigitte's commitment as well as 35 years' experience in the dance world proved to be an irresistible mix. Cape Town's Artscape Theatre, 400 dancers, Computicket and even the poster printers gave their time, space and services for free. And three months later, the Dancers Love Dogs gala was a total sell-out - and 600 dogs were sterilised as a result.

In fact, it was all so successful that the next year's performance was moved from the small theatre into the 1 400-seater opera house. And in the five years since its inception, this annual event has raised R1.3 million and has funded 7 500 sterilisations.

THE READERS' CHOICE: Kamini Pather

Kamini Pather, who won The Readers’ Choice at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Sebastian Voigt

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve food, and my grandmother and mother were always in the kitchen, with food bringing us together," says chef and SAFTA award-winning TV host Kamini Pather.

But it was only when she left her home in Durban to study copywriting in Cape Town that the 32 year old started cooking herself. "I had my own kitchen for the first time and I wanted to experiment, so I began googling, 'What's the most difficult recipe?' and made things like choux pastry. I wanted to push the boundaries," she says.

This led Kamini to audition for season two of MasterChef SA in 2013. "For the first test, I prepared yoghurt panna cotta with curry fruit salad and honeycomb tuile. After it was tasted at Cape Town's Cullinan Hotel, I was told that I'd made the top 100. Three challenges later, I was in the final 16.

"I didn't expect to get that far, but knew if I was going to do it, I had to do it properly. But it's just as stressful as it looks - early mornings, high pressure and working six days a week. It was survival of the fittest."

And Kamini did more than survive - she won. "It was surreal, and the win opened up a new world to me, from doing demos at expos to inspiring people to cook."

But her biggest dream was to do her own TV show, and that's how Girl Eat World came to be. "I met with bloggers from 10 cities in the world, and they became my insider guides, showing the viewers and me their cultures and countries through food."

THE CREATOR: Nandipha Mntambo

glamour women of the year

Nandipha Mntambo, who won The Creator award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Jessica Hunkin

One of our most extraordinary artists, Nandipha Mntambo, 34, has a string of accolades to her name: the Mellon Meyers Fellowships at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2003 and 2004, Brett Kebble Art Awards Curatorial Fellowship in 2005, Wits/BHP Billiton Fellowship in 2010, and the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2011.

That's not to mention 47 group shows, 15 SA solo shows and exhibitions in Washington DC, New York, Frankfurt and Paris. And yet, ironically for a creative whose sculpture, photographs, videos and performance art are described as beautiful, provocative and potent, Nandipha didn't anticipate the extent of her own gifts.

"Growing up in Joburg, I enjoyed making art and my parents encouraged creativity, but I didn't think I was good at it!" Nandipha explains. "And when it came to university, I couldn't decide between forensic science and fine art.

A last-minute decision led to the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art, where her stellar talent was soon so evident that Michael Stevenson, one of SA's leading gallerists, took a swift interest.

Nandipha's focus on female identity reflects in multimedia works that incorporate resin, cowhide and mesh. "The animal-human divide fascinates me and I love juxtaposing hide with the female form, using my own body as the mould," she says. Her internationally acclaimed 'Transience' exhibition, for example, included oil paintings, hide sculptures and a video homage to the female bullfighter Marie Sara.

THE MEDIA STAR: Kriya Gangiah

glamour women of the year

Kriya Gangiah, who won The Media Star award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Kevin Mark Pass

Jacaranda FM DJ and Mela TV presenter, Kriya Gangiah's radiant smile, endearing personality and great looks make it difficult to imagine the 27-year-old ever struggling with confidence.

"Growing up in Pretoria, I was that awkward kid with a uniform that was too big and hair that was too crazy curly," she laughs. "I was a bit cooler in high school, because I got SA colours for water polo, but I also did debating and drama, so I was still geeky."

But what was left of geeky vanished in 2007, when Kriya began studying information science at the University of Pretoria - and seized the opportunity to join Tuks FM. "I've always wanted to get into radio," she says. And not only did she get into radio, but at 17, she was the youngest person at the time to have become a presenter on SA's most listened to campus radio station.

Two years later, she decided to try TV, and auditioned for Craz-e. "The producers wanted a 16 year old, and I was 20, so I wore dungarees, odd socks and two ponytails to look younger. I made it and stayed on for four years, also presenting Shiz Niz, Frenzy and Sistahood, which won me a 2013 SAFTA nomination for Best Talk Show and Best Youth and Children's Programme."

Gigs at Highveld Stereo FM and Ballz Visual Radio followed, and in 2014, Kriya joined Jacaranda FM on The Lounge. "It's sometimes daunting to be in the studio, but the immediacy of radio is such a rush," she smiles.

Next up for this rising star? "I want to open my own digital agency," Kriya says. "And my big goal is a move into an entertainment TV talk show. Being a woman in the media industry means we can create opportunities to ensure that we reach any of the goals we set."

THE BUSINESS BRAIN: Karabo Mathang-Tshabuse

women of the year

Karabo Mathang-Tshabuse, who won The Business Brain award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Darren Gwynn

Karabo Mathang-Tshabuse is one busy 30-year -old.

The first woman to be recognised and licensed as a soccer agent by the SA Football Association (SAFA) and a presence on the BBC UK's list of 100 Women of 2015.

Her day starts at 4am and includes law studies at Wits University, running her soccer agency, P Management, and parenting two daughters Lufuno (eight) and Lutendo (six) together with her husband Josy.

The Soweto-born entrepreneur was raised by soccer-loving parents, attending her first match at five, but her hobby turned serious during her university studies in media and international relations.

"I used to go to games with Josy (now my husband) and my friend Nonhlanhla Nkosi, and with so much soccer talent in SA, the three of us saw a business possibility in our passion. We started P Management in 2007 - we played around with words like 'pro' and 'player', and 'P' was the compromise - hosting coaching clinics and recruiting players," she says. "Nonhlanhla was a marketing manager at Kaizer Chiefs, and helped us book coaches for clinics."

A year later, she took things to the next level, completing a FIFA exam that gave her official agent status. When Nonhlanhla left P Management to pursue other interests in marketing, Karabo and Josy set up offices in Joburg's Newtown. And then, in 2014, she began studying law, so that she could be expertly informed in her work.

As for sexism: "Being a woman in this male-dominated world meant people didn't always take me seriously. But there were also benefits in that, as I stood out and seemed intriguing. It's great to have opened the door as the first female soccer agent. Now I want to mentor, share my experience and see more women enter the industry."

THE DIY QUEEN: Julia Anastasopoulos

 glamour women of the year

Julia Anastasopoulos, who won The DIY Queen award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Sebastian Voigt

"As an actress, I was always interested in creating some kind of comedy that celebrated the quirkiness of SA characters," says Julia Anastasopoulos, 33, the talent behind the media sensation Suzelle DIY.

"I didn't know what exactly to do with my idea, but my fiancé Ari, who is a director, motivated me to film an experimental pilot. We knew the pink wall in my Cape Town flat would be a perfect backdrop," Julia explains.

The name Suzelle was inspired by her character's bold personality, and the DIY theme came about because DIY was trending at the time, Julia has a knack for it and, as she says, "DIY is just like acting in that both involve creating something from nothing."

The immediacy of online media appealed to Julia and Ari, and on 7 May 2014 they posted How to drill a hole without making a mess to Facebook.

"Our family and friends loved it, so we posted videos on Instagram. When the 15-second limit proved to be too short, we created a YouTube channel."

The introduction of Suzelle's sidekick Marianne, played by Julia's BFF Gina Collins, on 12 August 2014, struck comedy gold, with 10 000 views on the first episode in which she featured. Since then, there have been 56 episodes, and a new character, 'Ryno in the Bush', and guests have included chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen and Professor Tim Noakes.

"I had no expectations of Suzelle in the beginning. She was just a fun experiment," says Julia. "But she's changed my life and has given me the opportunity to spread joy via crazy, SA-flavoured comedy."

Now, with over 18 million YouTube views and 100 000 subscribers, a Comedy Central TV show, a book out, SuzelleDIY: The Book (Human & Rousseau; R280), a movie in the works and a production company, Sketchbook Studios, it's hard to imagine that Julia spent 10 years balancing acting, illustration and design work in demanding creative industries.

Then again, as she notes, Suzelle's life philosophy is, "Do it yourself because anybody can." Julia explains, "That's become our life philosophy, too. We made a success out of an idea by doing it ourselves with what we had."

THE STYLE ICON: Jackie Burger

glamour women of the year

Jackie Burger, who won The Style Icon award at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year awards. Credit: Niquita Bento

With her platinum crop, red lips and signature blend of vintage and modern, masculine and feminine looks, Jackie Burger has been influencing and inspiring SA style for over 25 years - and she has the career to prove it, with experience as a fashion director, magazine editor, marketing brand manager, wardrobe advisor and curator for the Design Indaba Expo.

The winner of SA Style and Africa Fashion awards, Jackie was studying sociology at Stellenbosch University when she discovered the two elements that have become leitmotifs in her closet ever since: "the allure of vintage and the appeal of menswear." In the years that followed, she added SA designers to that mix, becoming a renowned proponent of local talent.

It was in a moment that encapsulated all of those influences and interests that Jackie devised the next step in the creative cycle of life that she holds dear.

"I had been working with a business coach and considering new initiatives, and I was visiting the Parisian apartment of my icon, Coco Chanel, when the idea came to me," she recalls. "Thinking about Chanel's pioneering spirit and the history of salons, I thought, why not create my own space, a place where women can gather to converse, exchange ideas and gain knowledge."

The result was the groundbreaking Salon 58, launched in March last year. Situated in a glorious space in Stellenbosch's PJ Olivier Art Centre, this is where style comes to life at soirées that feature inventive catwalk shows, intriguing panel discussions and sensual experiences that celebrate femininity and camaraderie.

All in all, it's been quite a journey for the Western Cape farm girl who once saw trips to the town of Worcester as a thrilling opportunity to buy magazines and "see how smart women dressed."

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