Tucked in the wine-scented mountains of Stellenbosch there is an elegant space where beautiful people gather and treat themselves to fine food and fashion. This place is Salon 58, founded by former Elle editor Jackie Burger. The Insider caught up with Burger to find out more about her elegant salon, and get to know the ever-stylish, ever-busy woman.
The words Jackie Burger have become a well known name in the local fashion industry. What is the story behind Jackie Burger? From your early beginnings to the woman we (think we) know today.
My decision to pioneer my own business venture called for many moments of introspection and reflection; probing tipping point moments in my life, my career and my personality that captures my essence. Seizing the courage to venture on my own required this very sobering self discovery – what stood out for me was the honesty and integrity of my upbringing, the spirit of community I experienced growing up in the country and an innate curiosity that I was born with – always considering the alternatives of the status quo. My early years at a farm school taught me creativity and allowed me to explore my sense of adventure; high school was all about forming [an] opinion and feeling challenged, and university brought freedom of expression. At the time I did not see the context of my forming years but know now that each cycle of life prepares us for our calling – it requires a loads of hard work, authenticity and conviction.
You’ve transitioned from being a brand manager, a fashion editor, a brand consultant, and now the founder of Salon 58 while remaining within the realm of the fashion industry. What do you love about what you do now?
Salon 58 is the culmination of so many experiences and opportunities; an edit of business and industry highlights, skills and personal attributes gleaned in almost 35 years in the industry I love. I feel privilege having the grace to share all this with the inspiring talent of collaborators and the incredible support of the Salon 58 audience – all generously affording me the beauty of hosting innovative and authentic salon experiences.
What inspired you to establish Salon 58 in a country that, until now, had no culture of spending the day at a salon?
I was absolutely inspired by the legacy of the Parisian salons and some of the trailblazing salonnières and their contribution to the cultural growth and society at large. The vision of hosting gatherings, offering curated content premises which allows the audience to actively engage and participate, filled me with so much passion; I simply had to drive it to fruition.
Having visited Coco Chanel’s salon in Paris, what do you think makes Salon 58 unique?
Perhaps likening each salon soiree to showcasing a “new collection” – each one very considered to create beautiful content and to inspire conversations and ideas that continues beyond the Salon activations. In addition, the platform for like-minded collaborators to synergise and create unique experiences in a spirit of co-creation.
Salons being the province of the French, have any of your Parisian counterparts and salonniѐres come to experience your salon?
Take us through a typical, curated day at Salon 58?
Each day is different and very varied – the common threads are daily interactions with the Jenna McArthur PR team who manages all the Salon 58 PR and communications, as well as being the driving force behind the soirees. I try to read and research content ideas daily; meet with potential collaborators and attend designer shows, exhibitions etc. to stay on top of the arts and culture movement. Some days I even get time to work on my book.
The Awaken Grace event in August must have been exciting. What inspired the theme? And how was it received?
Looking back it feels like a pivotal moment from both a personal and business angle – I witnessed a certain fluidity which I had hoped for…a coming together of intention, a synergistic content aesthetic created by the collaborators and a sense of deep appreciation and understanding from all present. The theme was inspired by a personal yearning to live a more meaningful and conscious life, finding beauty in the everyday as well as treating each other with dignity and understanding.
Let’s go back to your days in publishing. Those in the industry know how difficult it is to get into fashion publishing houses. How did you do it? And what do you think aspiring fashion writers, editors and creative directors need to do today to stand out to the likes of Elle?
My journey is perhaps a bit serendipitous; but entailed commitment and hard work. It was a choice I made and a dream I pursued with honesty and conviction; knowing that it would require personal sacrifice. It was never about the glamour of the industry, it was always and will remain about my passion to be a part of something that I am inspired by, wish to learn from and share with others. In order to succeed, we have to be realistic about the challenges of the industry; agile in our thinking and actions, and always be a scholar of our industry.
There is this idea that fashion editors are difficult, demanding and extremely discerning, often being likened to Anna Wintour, and the fictional Miranda Priestly. What do you think is the biggest misconception about Fashion Editors?
I think the industry at large is perceived as fickle and the outer manifestation of the fashion world is one of glamour, egos and pea-cocking. The truth is dedication, a point of view and a disciplined demeanor to not only balance a world of creativity and concept but to ensure its viability in the greater economy of the industry.
Lastly, one can’t help but take note of your lovely style aesthetic. What is your style philosophy?
One of allure – loving the pieces that I discover as part of my personal style expression, exploring ways to reinvent them and always wearing them with confidence and appropriation.
Visit the Salon 58 website to find out when the next soiree will be.