In recent years, with the closure of many textile and garment companies and with job layoffs as a harsh reality, this is truly beauty with a purpose, the crowning of the Proletariat Queen. This exhibition has engaged with the various collections of the Spring Queen pageant from the private to the public and aims to imagine a possible future archive. This will be a space for connectivity, creativity, storytelling and the re-imaging of history.
The Spring Queen pageant is one of the largest and longest running fashion pageants in history. It is a unique event in which women factory workers from the textile and clothing industry in the Western Cape take to the ramp and model to showcase not only beauty, but also personality and style. The pageant began in the late 70s and shows no signs of cessation. It remains a highlight on the Cape Town social calendar with up to 10 000 excited and jubilant supporters attending the final event hosted by the Southern African Clothing and Textile Worker’s Union (SACTWU) at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town. Thousands of women participate in in-house factory beauty pageants. A factory Queen is then chosen and these Queens, anything between 40 – 60 women, then represent their factories and go on to compete in the SACTWU Spring Queen competition. The coveted title of the SACTWU Spring Queen, the Queen of Queens, is then awarded along with 1st and 2nd Princesses, as well as a Miss Personality and a Miss Best Dressed.