Written by Emma D'Arcy
I typically absorb plenty of style inspiration when I travel. Colour. Texture. Designs and fabrics from around the world make their distant journeys into my wardrobe and my home. Silk blue wide leg trousers from Lisbon, colourful striped summer t-shirts from Byron Bay, a treasured gold ring from Chicago, beaded turquoise bracelets from South Africa… you get the picture! Beyond my wardrobe, my home also displays a wide collection of memories and experiences captured on camera and framed, or wooden carvings and paintings. In every continent that I have visited, I always leave with new style inspiration and a greater appreciation of the people and country I have explored. On one of my last adventures before the pandemic, one chance encounter reminded me that no matter where we live in the world, whilst our expressions of style, our lives and cultures couldn’t be more different, we all find ourselves with very similar human hopes, dreams & challenges that we face.
South Africa has been on my list of countries to visit for years. When the wedding invitation arrived for one of my oldest friends, I planned the trip of a lifetime so I could make the most of the opportunity to see a region of the world I had never visited before. At the spectacular setting of a secluded Wine Farm in Tulbagh (not far from Cape Town), friends and family witnessed the beautiful bride Alex exchange vows under a tree canopy and we dined by candlelight under the stars – a memory I’ll never forget. And as for the wine… we enjoyed tasting a selection of South Africa’s finest (a cool glass of Montpellier Viognier was particularly delicious) and naturally I shipped caseloads home. After exploring the vibrant Cape Town, Stellenbosch and surrounding region, I flew to Hoedspruit enroute to Klaserie Nature Reserve where I experienced safari game drives for the first time. It was at the end of my trip waiting for my taxi that I met a brilliant local business woman dressed beautifully in a smart, well cut outfit and glamorous shades (it’s all about the detail), who introduced herself as my driver to the airport before my long flight home.
During the drive, I regaled her with stories of the magnificent wild animals I had witnessed up close – all of which she had seen working as a ranger herself, (one of the first female rangers in the region), amongst other jobs she worked whilst caring for her children. A similar age, we talked about our respective careers, industries and the shared challenges we have faced. Whilst we live just under 10,000 kilometres apart – we still bonded and laughed over similar triumphs and hurdles in life – enjoying each other’s company on that drive in the mid-morning African sun. Once our journey was over, we swapped details and took a moment to say farewell and good luck. The positive ‘glass half full’ attitude she exuded was infectious.
This particular chance encounter reminded me that we’re all different, but the same. Every one of us has stories from around the world (and closer to home) that confirms this I am sure – if you cast your mind back, you’ll find your own memories of people you have encountered and shared a smile or a moment with. So unsurprisingly, my wardrobe has become far more colourful since that trip – the brighter and bolder the colour the better! And I’ll be returning to Africa to learn more about the continent, it’s endless red sunsets and magnificent wildlife in the not too distant future. As we tentatively take steps towards a new world we can appreciate more than ever the inspiration that travel brings to our lives and our personal style. And beyond that, consider how we can make our everyday human interactions count, wherever we might find people on our travels.