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Thirty-five years since J&B re-invented the horse race

From finery to fabulous at Cape Town's fashion event of the year

Every January, the prestigious J&B Met attracts crowds of 50 000 to the Kenilworth race course. In the early 1800s English soldiers from the Cape Garrison would race thoroughbreds, while the ladies would dress in all their finery. But in a bid to appeal to a younger dynamic audience, current sponsors J&B have introduced bold, unconventional, individual and glamorous outfits. Celebrities, fashionistas, fashion designers, and even the boys, have started a party.

In 2003, Cape Town City Council commissioned an economic impact survey that showed over R18 million of fashion sales in the Western Cape were directly attributed to the J&B Met. South Africa's hottest fashion designers work hard to ensure the rich and famous look the part on race day, and some launch ranges specifically for the event. Designers include; Gavin Rajah, Mark Gooding, Christiaan du Toit, Gert Johan Coetzee and Karabo Finger.

35 years of J&B fashion themes

Every year the rich, the famous and the fashionable network at elegant marquees. We take a look at what they've been wearing over the last five years.

'Made different' (2012)
This year the J&B Met is inspired by the unique heritage of J&B Scotch Whisky - a whisky that is made like no other, a whisky that is “made different.” It is in this spirit that J&B challenges the convention of what one would normally wear to the J&B Met. This year’s theme calls on supporters to break the rules and challenge the traditional.Those attending this year’s J&B MET are invited to take up the challenge and arrive at Kenilworth in something different.

'Larger than Life' (2011)
With a salute to the spontaneous, a tip of the hat to the unconventional, a bow to the bold and a high five to the unexpected, this year was all about massive outfits, oversized accessories and gigantic personalities to match.

'In Full Colour' (2010)
From stunning designer outfits to hand-woven quilted jackets, this certainly was a colourful event.

'Glitz and Glam' (2009)
This year focussed on age-old party icon, the mirror ball, which is also synonymous with J&B's global 'Start a Party' campaign.

'Connect Couture' (2008)
J&B connected the plums, patterns and metallics of their dress code with styling tips from South Africa's top fashion designers.

'Black and White Bling' (2007)
Ladies wore subtle bling, deconstructed garments and the 60s bubble skirt.  White detailed and white collared shirts were fashion forward in menswear.

The J&B Met Most Elegant Couple Competition

Central to the afternoon's entertainment is the popular J&B Most Elegant Couple Competition. Sophisticated couples are invited to a pre-judging competition by fashion spotters from the Fashion Design Department of Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Entrants are then put through their paces and whittled down to 16 finalists.

The judging panel has included; TV personality Michael Mol, surfing sensation Roxy Louw and swimmer Ryk Neethling.  The prizes can be anything from, travel vouchers, beauty hampers, to shopping vouchers and safaris.

In 2010, South African singer Thembi Seete and partner Henri Slier won first place, dressed in one of Mark Gooding's designs. "In the past, guys would wear a suit they wore to work, but now they're making an effort!" the designer told News24.

We're looking forward to seeing the exciting outfits at the J&B Met 2012. Funky curls, vintage or feathers and flowers? Check out our fashion section for more ideas.

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