“I grew up in West Africa before moving to France to study fashion,” Withey says. “After working in Paris for a few years, I decided to open my own business in Cape Town, and Maison Mara was born.” The concept store is built within an old house, “to create a homely feeling,” says Withey. “These days, shopping in big malls and department stores can be quite impersonal. We liked the idea of going back to old values, knowing our customers by name and what they like.”
Withey has tapped into something millennials who travel are also looking for: authentic experiences. So, Culture Trip tapped her for advice on everything from fall’s most on-trend looks, to the essential wardrobe and beauty items a well-traveled millennial woman ought to own.
Culture Trip (CT): What are some of your favorite looks for fall?
Kelly Withey (KW): This season, I feel the trend is all about being stylish yet practical. Contrasting volumes also work well this season, like wearing a mini dress with a waxed raincoat.
CT: Outside of seasonal trends, what are some of your favorite looks for the millennial woman?
KW: I love a pleated skirt with a light knit. Another favorite look, is a pair of slouchy silk trousers with sneakers and an oversized shirt.
CT: What are five essentials a well-traveled woman must have in her closet?
KW: A well-traveled woman should have:
1.) A white shirt, every woman should have one and if you buy a good quality cotton or silk one, it will never get old.
2.) A pair of slouchy black trousers. I like when they are cut like a jog pant, but in silk with a tuxedo-stripe finish down the side. It makes them timeless and elegant.
3.) A pair of jeans that suits your body perfectly.
4.) The perfect little black dress and if you can’t find the perfect one, you should get lots of different little black dresses. They work for almost every occasion and always make one look thin.
5.) A cashmere sweater, they are wonderful for traveling and layering in winter or wearing with a cute skirt in summer. I would like to have one in every color but navy, grey and beige are a good start.
CT: Please name three wardrobe staples a woman should have by the time she’s 30.
KW: By the time she’s 30, a woman should have:
1.) A beautiful coat; this season I am lusting over a single-breasted, camel, cashmere coat.
2.) A statement bag. You can wear it every day with any outfit and it will uplift every look whether you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a cocktail dress.
3.) I like the idea of owning a beautiful watch that you will keep for the rest of your life.
JDD: Who are some of your favorite designers and why?
KW: My favorite designers are J.W. Anderson, Marni, and Malone Souliers. [Each of these designers offers] quality and attention to detail. Every piece is thought out in the most meticulous way. Their styles really set them apart from other designers, which is important in this era where so much is available to us.
JDD: What are your beauty product essentials?
KW: I don’t like wearing make-up so I need to take extra care of my face, I use the Malin+Goetz detox face mask, Jojoba face scrub and oil every Sunday to treat my skin after the busy week. And I use Embryolisse as a daily moisturizer and SPF.
Stylist: Jeandre Venter
Model: Francesca Van Oudtshoorn from Fanjam
Photographer: Nathalie Bardin
Hair and Make up: Suaad Jeppie
All garments from and shot at Maison Mara and are up on the website.