Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Veni Vidi Varga: Brunsdon's pinup girls and Vogue's advertiser-friendly TV

Sitting here waiting for the Jayson Brunsdon show to start. It's the same upstairs "OPT" venue as the Lisa Ho, Anna Thomas and Melanie Cutfield shows yesterday - the one that looks a lot like The Salon tent at Bryant Park in New York. Given that that's precisely the tent in which Brunsdon showed in New York in February, this time it really, really feels like deja vu.

Strangely enough however, given the big fish in a small pond factor, I'd say Brunsdon's New York show was fuller than this. There are a few people standing around here due to the seats filling up - but in February, they were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in lines around the walls.

The big difference between the two shows is that this one is happening in the throes of a very warm Sydney autumn, while the other was staged during a bitterly cold New York winter - and gripped by a dreadful gastric flu, I recall sitting through Brunsdon's show wishing that they had not given me a front row seat, because frankly I felt like I was going to have to run out the door at any moment.

I could just envisage The Daily's headline the following day:"Chunder from Downunder!" or, perish the thought, the entry on Kelly Cutrone's www.fashionweekdaily.com blog. So far noone has been able to answer the following question: has anyone, in the history of fashion presentations, ever thrown up on a runway during a show? On that frigid New York evening, I prayed that the first recorded sighting was not going to be me.

Anyhow, to my left, about three seats up, is Dita Von Teese. Two seats to my right, expat Australian model - and newly-minted Victoria's Secret "Angel" - Miranda Kerr. Photographers on the other side of the runway keep training their lenses on both. Sandwiched in between them, as I am, it's a somewhat disconcerting feeling. This is what celebs live for of course - the photo op. Only to later bitterly complain when they can't switch that media interest off at inconvenient times.

As for the collection, I have to hand it to Brunsdon - as I do also to Josh Goot, Alice McCall and anyone else who is currently juggling runway commitments in two hemispheres. Brunsdon's first show in New York was just three months ago. And yet here he is again with a complete - but very tightly-edited - resort range.

No, Brunsdon is not reinventing the design wheel but he has managed in a very short space of time (three years) to carve a smart niche for himself in the Australian womens classic eveningwear category. Yes his pencil-thin, beaded, tailored cocktail dresses and boleros with built-in corsets owe as much to Roland Mouret as they do to his stated collection inspiration - the 40s Varga Girl - but there were a couple of knockout dresses, both of them in burnt orange silk. Perhaps I have been bamboozled by Brunsdon's New York buzz factor, but I can't help seeing this collection snapped up by a few Manhattan princesses.

Walking backstage afterwards I do a double-take when I spot a woman with dead straight, platinum-blonde hair, wearing a pink smock dress, interviewing Brunsdon in front of a television camera. I can't help thinking that the woman looks alarmingly like David Jones' group general manager for apparel, footwear, accessories and cosmetics, Colette Garnsey.

The woman turns towards me and voila, it is indeed Garnsey - doing a few quick backstage ivs, I am informed by a David Jones spokeswoman, for a video story for Vogue Australia's online division, vogue.com.au. Apparently Garnsey's debut vogue.com.au iv was at last night's Alex Perry show.

Presumably, Garnsey won't be doing any interviews with non-DJs designers. But the question remains, should she be doing any interviews at all? I wonder to myself whether the end piece will be clearly advertised as a David Jones advertisement, whether it will masquerade as some sort of daft industry type-on-industry type interview - or whether perhaps there is any delineation between anything these days at Vogue. It should be noted that the magazine found itself on Media Watch on two occasions recently.

"So do we [the media] get our turn to play buyers now?" I joke, in Garnsey's direction.

"No!" snaps Garnsey.

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