When style calls, the real Crystal Birch stands up

South African stylist and milliner Crystal Birch adds an eccentric and brilliant touch to every project.

The Real Crystal Birch.

South African musos like Jack Parow owe their signature looks to Johannesburg-based stylist and milliner Crystal Birch. The brains and heart behind Jack Parow’s long peak cap often finds herself moving between Cape Town and Johannesburg, offering something that even the rest of world clearly wants to see more of each time.

Jack Parow pays Birch a visit in her studio.

Collaborations are a crucial part of keeping things weird and unprecedented for Birch. Local trailblazers like Missibaba, Kirsten Goss, Gavin Rajah and Lady Skollie are just some of a number of artists who recognized the power of mixing and matching their creativity with Birch’s.

Birch is especially inspired by a bustling Johannesburg that gives her the energy to keep her standard high, whether she’s creating hats or styling magazine fashion pages or television adverts. She is keen on finding fresh ways to curate, slowly reinventing the catwalk: “An industrial space in downtown Johannesburg used a contemporary art gallery is where people want to start interacting with fashion before they decide to wear it—it’s not all about runway”.

In a parallel universe, Birch says she would probably be sleeping in a tipi tent by night and protesting against sweatshops and capitalism by day. Almost 10 years after completing fashion school, her website shows off the creativity that deciding against the tipi life affords her.  

She showed off a bit of her SS2016 collection, B@N@N@S, on our Instagram page, giving us a fly-on-the-wall look into a normal day in the life of Crystal Birch—there’s clearly nothing normal about it. If it’s bizarre and otherworldly, chances are that The Real Crystal Birch is behind it.

The Ndume hat from her SS2016 B@N@N@S Collection.