When Khanyi Dhlomo opened a plush designer boutique here late last year, it revealed as much about the national psyche as it did about the local fashion industry. As South Africa’s first black television news anchor and the former editor of a popular women’s magazine, Dhlomo was the kind of elegant, self-made, high-profile entrepreneur who many believed could fill a lucrative gap in the city’s retail mix.
From mutinous McQueen handbags to lacy frocks by Baby Dior, Dhlomo’s store Luminance instantly brought a fresh point of view to the top tier of the imported fashion market. A few other pioneering boutiques like Callaghan Collezioni and Grays had loyally served the South African elite over the years, but new retail destinations in a multibrand format were rare in Johannesburg. So, on opening night, the suave interiors and white-gloved service at Luminance duly impressed new and old money alike.