Tuesday, May 1, 2007

That's not a miniskirt, THIS is a miniskirt: Alex Perry courts danger and some Central Coast comparisons

What an utter hoot the Alex Perry show was last night. After such a flat morning, with some momentum starting to build after a couple of strong shows - notably Anna Thomas and the very confident debut of Melanie Cutfield - in walking across to Perry's Cargo Hall venue it really did feel like a big, buzzy show.

A long queue of people stood waiting in line to get in, a mini red carpet 'arrivals' section had been cordoned off to one side in order to capture the bevy of Australian celebrities who had turned up for the show. You name them, they were there: Tara Moss, Michelle Leslie, Sophie Faulkiner, Jodhi Meares, I even spotted Ros and Gretel Packer in the front row. They joined the usual horde of Perry's big-haired clients and fans - every last one of the latter, as per usual, guilty-as-sin of major Crimes Against Bronzer.

Inside there was a feeling of minor pandemonium - which was only exacerbated for me by the shrieks of laughter from New York retail ringin, Henri Bendel VP Fashion Director Ann Watson, as she opened up her goodie bag to find a complimentary ironing board cover, courtesy of Perry's sponsor Sunbeam.

"I've never been at a fashion show, where they've given an ironic board cover!" squealed Watson. "I can't wait to take it home and show everybody. In New York City, I don't know anyone who irons their clothes. I think it's because we live in such a service culture - everybody sends out. Next I'm going to get a can of starch to go with it".

The show started, and a series of mostly stick-thin models - three from the tv show, Australia's Next Top Model, on which Perry is of course a judge - charged out to the loud strains of heavily-remixed disco.

There were plenty of Perry's signature floor-length evening dresses and ensembles - the prettiest those with multicoloured skirts over corset tops, cinched by large belts. However the most striking feature of the Swarovski crystal-encrusted collection - many items from which featured satin versions of the moment's fashionable sporty racerback - was the length of the cocktail dresses. Or rather, lack of it. One coral garment in particularly clearly showed the model's buttock cheeks.

"That's a Britney Spears there" noted Watson.

"He definitely had the best models of the day" she added later, just as the models were doing their victory lap at the end of the show. "Why didn't the other designers have these girls?"

Here's Perry's post-show answer - in a quick backstage iv I did with him post-show:

Alex Perry: [stylist] Trevor Stones and I go through this laborious process of casting. It's really important, especially with what I do. If I put girls who are slightly elegant in my show, it gives it a different slant. And this season especially.

So what, you don't want them to be elegant, but brassy?

Well no, but if they're too elegant... They need to be a bit younger, king of racehorse lean, fresher-ooking girls. Because when you put them in something that's so heavily-jewelled, if I put it on somebody who looks a bit more sophisticated, it looks like I'm trying to create 50s Dior and that time is gone so it needs to be like a modern version of that and you do it on beautiful young girls. Casting is really important.

What was the brief you gave them? They were almost like automatons.
Just pummel out there and pummel back. No sauntering and swaying. Get out there as soon as you can and get back as fast as you can.

What was it like working with the ANTM girls?
You know what - they were fantastic. When we did the dress rehearsal, I didn't recognise two of them. I don't know that you would have guessed which ones they were in the show. Everyone would know Alice [Burdeau - the particularly skinny teenager whose weight has been the subject of recent controversy] because she's like a Nicole Kidman-esque kind of girl. But they fitted in seamlessly with the rest of the girls.

It was very short - particularly that coral number.
I took the reference from old 50s swimsuits. You know, those ones that have that panel in the front.

A Terrigal Skirt?
[Laughs] I wanted them to be dangerous. Everybody at some point has done short skirts since the beginning of fashion. And I thought, 'Alright, I'll show you how how to do a short skirt'. I've never touched that territory and I thought, 'I'm going to do it today, I'll jewel it and cut it to almost a dangerous level'.

Do you think you are going to actually sell the shortest versions?
I might have to lengthen them slightly. But those dresses, they could be made in any length and they're still beautiful - gorgeous cocktail dresses. And you know what? Some cheeky little girl is going to wear it like that. So long as she's got the legs. Let's hope it's not a bad leg offender.

Or a Crime Against Bronzer. There were more than a few of those here I have to say.
There could have been. If I had more time, I would have been too. They're tanned. They're healthy tans. They travel a lot. We're here pasty in the middle of winter and they've come back from somewhere. My clients - they can afford to go whenever they want.

Outside the venue, the lack of length of Perry's skirts was a subject of some debate - notably whether The Terrigal Skirt was in fact the appropriate term.

"Yes there's the Terrigal Skirt, which is just south of The Entrance" noted David Jones head buyer David Bush.

He added, "Then there's the Toukley Skirt - where you can actually see The Entrance".

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