WORDS Michaela Stehr IMAGES Supplied
The latest iteration of Marti Foster’s delightful home-goods store, Masquerade, opened recently in Constantia Village in Cape Town, and is inspired by all things French, vintage and fabulous.
Masquerade is one of those stores you pop into thinking, “I’ll just take a two-minute peek for inspiration,” and then walk out of – some 30 minutes later – having purchased two brilliant gifts for the sort of friends who already have everything, plus a couple of scented candles for yourself.
The word “irresistible” most definitely springs to mind whenever we are reminded of owner Marti Foster’s store – which is why it was no wonder that we also loved her Franschhoek home (featured in VISI 114).
With outlets in both Franschhoek and Constantia, all of Masquerade’s vintage-inspired homeware is also available online. But, as Marti says, while the online store is well-established and growing, “Nothing beats the feeling of walking into Masquerade, and being able to smell, feel and experience the overall story.”
That story began back in 2001, when Masquerade was “a small corner shop bursting at the seams with vintage items sourced from local auctions”, she says. For a long time, Marti focused on vintage pieces that were “sold as is or renovated”, and sourced via her inveterate “auction-hopping” across South Africa, Europe and South America. From the start, the main focus was French-style furniture, linen and decor items. The store’s name was chosen to indicate the style of the time, says Marti: “Take something old, give it a lick of paint, and ‘masquerade’ it as something new.” Beyond that, the name also referred to a feeling of being transported into a new and special world of aesthetic loveliness. “Masquerade is always ‘full of stuff’,” she adds. “I like to know that people feel a bit overstimulated – that makes them come back.” The Constantia Village shop has the charm and atmosphere of an old-fashioned apothecary, and is packed to its high ceilings with tempting, top-quality homeware items, evoking an immediate “sense of generosity”, as Marti puts it.
“I love everything I sell because I hand-pick or design it all,” she says. Does she have any personal favourites? “For me, Masquerade’s linen range for the bedroom, kitchen and dining room is in a league of its own – it can’t be found anywhere else,” Marti responds. “It is timeless, and will last a lifetime.” She adds that Masquerade is also well-known for its wonderful ranges of scented candles.
Created during the pandemic lockdown of 2020, the Constantia Village Masquerade store was designed by Marti’s friend, artist André Carl van der Merwe, who hand-drew each unit, after which Ray Kilian painstakingly made the unique shop fittings. “It was a wonderful challenge for all during Covid times, but the creativity from everyone blew me away,” says Marti. Packed with delightful design details – including “the concave corners of the Fine Home Goods unit, the marble, the lighting, the carvings, the handles…” – the store is a pleasure (and, yes, an inspiration) to visit.