/ 19 November 2022

Proteas, delicious food and fashion combine at the Zeitz MOCAA Art & Opulence Gala

Img 1585
View from below: the Atrium looks gives the spectacular view of the museum’s silo’s. (Photos by Nicki Prium and Larnelle Bakala)

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) + Gucci gala promises to be a night celebrating black joy, art and opulence. The aesthetics of the evening brings Gucci’s menagerie of dainty, pink floral aesthetics to the beacon of bold African art. 

The atrium at the heart of Zeitz MOCAA will pulse to the rhythm of African beats and will be adorned by the gallant fashion worn by the evening’s guests. The Ocular Lounge is the quintessential sophisticated dinner venue that will bring together Gucci’s soft pinks and Italian sensibilities and the boldness of optimistic African art. 

The setup for the gala kicks off at 2pm the day before the gala, and continues through the night. Despite the exhaustive setup for the gala and party, the atmosphere is energetic. Stevie Wonder’s All Night Long plays over the speakers as teams paint to the rhythm, adding their last finishing touches. You can tell something special is about to happen. 

King Proteas arranged for the Zeitz MOCAA + Gucci gala dinner.

On the ground floor, there is a hustle and bustle vibe as teams bring in the evening’s sound and lighting setup in a fast-paced in-and-out fashion. Flight case after flight case is wheeled in while large frames and tables follow suit. 

From the looks and sounds of it, the museum’s atrium promises to be the heart of the party where some of the night’s musical guests like DJ Stunna, NV funk and DJ Zinhle will be purveyors of groove. 

Lush Gucci Garden

The gala dinner takes place in the Ocular Lounge on level six. It is flexible enough that it suits its ever-changing programme of events and visitors. There’s a large, open space for the larger tables and display pieces; a lengthy bar to pick up a drink, and couches along the cushion windows for more intimate vibes. 

“3 minutes! 3 minutes! Pack up! Pack up!” shouts the sound and lighting manager as his team completes their final checks in the dinner venue. He sounds like a train conductor ushering his team forward en route to destination Gucci. 

Perched in one of the building’s iconic cushion windows is a collection of flowers that are destined for the Gucci Garden wall that will be the backdrop of a Gucci pink couch, where guests will get their photos taken. 

Indigenious and seasonal flowers are provided by Lush Flowers from the trendy neighbourhood of  Gardens, Cape Town. Lush is Gucci’s florist of choice as the house sends flowers from Lush to their most important clients, says Daniela Paton, a florist from Lush. 

Ranunculus, king proteas, lacey flowers, roses, peonies, and pincushions are all on display throughout the Ocular Lounge. Pin cushions that grow on the mountains hang from the rafters to form pincushion chandeliers. The peonies, roses, and lacey grasses are arranged in funky, fluid ceramics by Capetonian ceramicist, Jade Paton. 

African design with a Gucci edge

With sweeping views of the city, the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, and Silo District as the backdrop to the dinner portion of the gala, balance is key between the aesthetics of the Italian fashion house and the institution’s values that support African artists. 

“The design is all about Africa with a Gucci edge,” says Kathy Page Wood, Creative Director of Farm Design who is behind the decor of the gala. 

“Things started to get so serious. But Africa is all about colour, prints and texture. It’s very exciting,” says Wood.  

One of the themes of the When We See Us exhibition, – the focal point of evening’s celebrations – is Joy and Revelry, and reads, “Life calls for enjoyment, sha! We know how to hold a party”. The decor of the evening has references to the exhibition interwoven throughout.  

Furniture in the Ocular Lounge is soft, dusty Gucci pink and a dark rich black, a nod to the exhibit’s celebration of black joy. The dish clothes have printed roosters with pink ostrich feather trimmings, there are sequined cushions, and silk textiles inspired by Mali embroidery. 

There are five lounge pods where people can sit together on pink couches in addition to the dinners’ sweeping dinner table where guests enjoy a menu designed by celebrity chef, Reuben Riffel. 

Guests will strike a pose in front of the Gucci Garden wall of flowers.

“It’s soft furnishings with African wax prints on steroids, but with a Gucci style,” says Wood. 

In addition to the food on the gala’s dinner menu, canapes and oysters will be roaming around the party, says Carla Van Tonder, operations manager of the Ocular Lounge.

The wine of choice for an evening at the Ocular Lounge comes from Lourensford in Somerset West. For the gala’s festivities, the wines of choice are pinotage and chardonnay, nods to the wines and grape varieties of South Africa. 

What would a night of art and opulence be without great tasting food to match at the first ever Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa’s fundraising gala in collaboration with Fashion brand Gucci to celebrate black art and art history.    

With the museum situated in the heart of the Mother City, who better to put the menu together than Cape Town based award winning celebrity chef Reuben Riffel? Growing up in Franschhoek and working in a restaurant Riffel developed an understanding and appreciation for the culinary industry. The celebrity chef is known for his simplistic approach in creating scrumptious meals yet identifiable. 

And Riffel has done just that to create a fine dining experience for guest’s at the event themed Art & Opulence celebrating the ways in which black people see and represent themselves in the world. Providing a simple three course meal in which he’s made sure to include vegetarian options while including some ingredients synonymous with South Africa.

Riffel has made the starters with a surprise ingredient known to Cape Town while adding a sweet and sour flavour or twist to it. With the mains being hearty yet flavorful with a creamy and rich approach merged with the fruity kick to it it’ll compliment the starters well. But the course most exciting to try will be the dessert offering which promises to tingle the taste buds of all the wine lovers, but also guests who enjoy a simple sweet treat. 

Reuben’s menu for this evening’s dinner is curated for  food lovers who enjoy a less experimental approach for food lovers who enjoy an experimental approach to food but love the feeling of recognizing what they are eating in a newly imagined way. He’s included a lot of local ingredients in his menu for tonight’s dinner making the guests experience a taste of what he brings to his own restaurants. There’s a sense of intentionality in keeping the menu selection simple to celebrate the beauty in local foods making guests feel like they’re experiencing something they know and love in a versatile way.