AfrikaBurn isn’t for everyone. It’s not mass. And it takes a special woman who willingly chooses to embed herself in a desert and wash with wet wipes for a week. The girls here aren’t trying to channel that Kate Moss denim-hot-pants-and-Wellies-at-Glastonbury look. And they couldn’t care less what Sienna Miller wore to this year’s Coachella. That usual selfie-stick narcissism just does not fly here.
Instead the babes of the Burn leave their self-consciousness back at the tar road along with their usual dress sense, eschewing flower crowns for Native American headdresses that aren’t necessarily matched with boho belts and fringed leather jackets.
When Jacki Bruniquel was a child she’d stare at her legs in the bath, wishing them to turn into a tail. And when she wasn’t holding her breath at the bottom of the pool, she was watching Splash. “AfrikaBurn is a safe space for that inner child to run wild,” says Jacki. “A place where my inner mermaid can swim free!”
The photograph you see here of Jacki were taken on her birthday, and she was lucky to have a giant dress-up party in the desert to celebrate her coming of age. Jacki bought the leggings online, sourced her boots from Grant Mason Originals in the Woodstock Exchange, her friend Katherine Kidger helped to design the rest of the outfit, and she made the crown herself.
“My job is pretty demanding, so it was really fun to make something for fun’s sake. I made the crown using a tiara I found at China Mall, a glue gun and shells that I collected at the beach.”
The outfit is a world apart from Jacki’s day-to-day uniform. Working as a photographer means that she needs to be able to move about freely and blend in. However, for those magical few days in the desert, Jacki transformed herself into a mermaid and caused a splash.
Most other Burner babes follow some sort of DIY, up-cycled and green approach. Craft is big. Make it instead of fake it. There’s a girl who turned herself into a bumblebee using a gold bodysuit and a fur coat. Indian feather headdresses and other larger than life headgear is the norm. Heavily customised bras, worn with the type of bovver boots Tank Girl was partial to, are standard. Wispy kimonos and other 70s inspired fashions flow freely in the dry desert air.
Otherwise, the girls of the Burn celebrate the skin that they’ve come packaged in. Breasts are adorned with nipple caps and pasties, duct-tape, or glitter and paint. Whether that’s exposing fading tan lines by day or dancing around one of the massive fires at night, the birthday suit is perhaps the one outfit that nearly everyone at the Burn will show off at some point.