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									                                                                                                          a show
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                                                                                               A
                                     HAVING SHOWN AT EVERY                                               s successful Australian                College. “When I left uni, Dad
                                                                                                         fashion designer Alex                  cracked it,” he recalls. “I was too
                                        AUSTRALIAN FASHION                                               Perry sits at his cluttered            scared to leave fashion design, so
                                         WEEK SINCE ITS 1995                                   desk, leg folded underneath him,                 I just stuck it out. I was never one
                                                                                               he leans forward to speak. “I really             of those people who knew from
                                      INCEPTION, ALEX PERRY                                    had no idea what I was doing,”                   a young age what I wanted to do.”
                                     TALKS TO SHANE CONROY                                     he says. “I got a shop, fixed it up,                Fear may have kept him on
                                     ABOUT THOSE WHO MAKE                                      made a few dresses, and then sat                 track, but it was talent that
                                                                                               there one day thinking, ‘My God,                 saw him through to his 1984
                                         THE PERRY CATWALK                                     I’ve got a mortgage to pay’.”                    graduation and into a glamorous
                                     A PERENNIAL HIGHLIGHT.                                       The store was Perry’s first                   career as a model agent for
                                                                                               – a nondescript shopfront in                     June Dally-Watkins, then Chic
                                                                                               Sydney’s inner-city suburb of                    Management and, finally,
                                                                                               Kensington, and a far cry from                   Chadwick Models. Yet despite
                                                                                               his current prime-CBD digs.                      travelling the world in search of
                                                                                               But, sitting now, among the                      rare beauties, Perry maintained
                                                                                               forest of sketches tacked                        his interest in fashion design,
                                                                                               haphazardly to the walls and                     making dresses for his wife,
                                                                                               the jungle of clothes racks that                 Mary, and select model friends.
                                                                                               dominate the Perry headquarters,                    But he could not resist the
                                                                                               it’s easy to see shades of his                   temptation to launch his own
                                                                                               more humble beginnings.                          label, soon throwing in his
                                                                                                  “I fluked it, in a sense,” he                 big-city salary and opening
                                                                                               says, by way of explanation of                   a small Kensington boutique.
                                                                                               the success that has taken his                   Success didn’t come immediately
                                                                                               label to catwalks, red carpets                   to the novice entrepreneur, but
                                                                                               and retail outlets around the                    once his designs hit the glossy
                                                                                               world. “I was always good at                     pages of fashion bible Vogue
                                                                                               drawing [but] I didn’t know what                 Australia, industry forces began
                                                                                               fashion design entailed.”                        to gather behind him.
                                                                                                  Yet the budding designer would                   By the mid-1990s, Perry had
                                                                                               soon learn what fashion design                   moved his boutique to exclusive
                                                                                               involved when he left an arts                    Double Bay and became
                                                                                               degree to study at The Fashion                   a celebrated talent at the
                                                                                               Design Studio at East Sydney                     inaugural Mercedes Australian

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                                                                      ALEX_PERRY_




y alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry




                                                                      From small beginnings,
                                                                           Alex Perry and his
                                                                         stellar designs have
                                                                      become the epitome of
                                                                       cutting-edge fashion.



                                                                              MARCHVOYEUR       035
                                                                                                                                                 COVERSTORY
                                                                                                                        ALEX_PERRY_




  DIARY OF A DRESS                         and emerges two weeks later with
  An Alex Perry creation may exude         a concept for the collection.
  effortless sophistication as it glides   STAGE THREE :: Back in the
  down the catwalk but, in truth, each     workshop, Perry and his team                                  From top to bottom: Make-up artist
  and every gown demands up to             pin his designs together on                                      Linda Jefferyes, hairdresser Joh
  60 hours of painstaking tracing,         mannequins and make any                                        Bailey and stylist Trevor Stones all
                                                                                                         band together to help make Perry’s
  trimming and tweaking.                   revisions they feel necessary.                                designs (opposite page) come alive
                                           STAGE FOUR :: The patterns are                                            on the fashion runway.
  STAGE ONE :: Up to six months            made and the laborious tailoring
  prior to its catwalk date, Perry         process begins. Leading up to
  will design and cut an initial calico    Fashion Week, Perry will sound the
  mock-up of the dress to establish        all-hands-on-deck siren.
  its shape and style.
                                           STAGE FIVE :: The gowns are
  STAGE TWO :: Perry travels to            custom-fit to the chosen models, and
  India where he immerses himself          any last-minute alterations are made
  in beads, fabrics and colours,           before it heads down the catwalk.



a magazine page or as a model              that,” explains Bailey. “When
walks down a catwalk, but there’s          a girl walks down the catwalk,
a hell of a lot of work that goes          you don’t want hair, make-up and
into it to allow it to be such             clothes happening [all at once],
a fantasy,” he says. “The minute           because it’s confusing to the eye.”    alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex p

the girl walks out there, it’s over          Like Perry, Bailey leads by
and it becomes fodder for [the             example. On the morning of
media] to say what they will.”             the show, Bailey will be the first
                                           one in the trenches, helping
THE HAIRDRESSER ::                         to create the most effective
JOH BAILEY                                 canvas on which to showcase
Celebrity hairdresser and media            the collection. And it’s here that
personality Joh Bailey has been            his experience shines through.
a backstage fixture at Perry                 “I don’t find it hectic,” he
fashion shows for two decades.             explains. “I’ve been doing this for
And while he continues to enjoy            a long time, and without sounding
the view from the apex of his              jaded, if you stick to the formula,
industry, the salon superstar              nothing can possibly go wrong.
is always eager to dive into the           We go into [each show] prepared,
creative energy of a fashion show.         so we don’t have any dramas.”
   “It’s a nod if a successful
designer chooses you to do the             THE MAKE-UP ARTIST ::
hair – and there’s a responsibility        LINDA JEFFERYES
with that,” he says. “And it’s really      Former international model
good for my staff because they             and make-up artist to the stars,
get to come along and be involved          Linda Jefferyes has seen the
with hair [styles] they wouldn’t           catwalk from just about every
normally do in the salons.”                angle. She’ll also be seeing this
   After meeting with Perry to             year’s Rosemount Australian
familiarise himself with the               Fashion Week from backstage
collection and draft a hair                as she paints the faces of the
concept, Bailey briefs his staff           Perry models. But Jefferyes
and practice sessions begin. But           has much more than a little
for both designer and hairdresser,         lip gloss to worry about.
it’s a case of less is more.                  “In high fashion, it’s always
   “For every designer you work            exaggerated,” she says. “You’re
with, there’s a new story. Alex’s          having to create a whole image
clothes are so embellished and             that isn’t just about the make-up
over-the-top that we rarely do             but includes how they’re lighting,
hair that’s going to compete with          what kind of look they’re trying

                                                                                                                                   MARCHVOYEUR                037
                   Fashion Week. Countless fashion       somebody can, from their
                   shows, international retail deals     ordinary self, become this really
                   and a television spot on the hit      beautiful and glamorous version
                   reality series Australia’s Next       of themselves,” he says. “When
                   Top Model followed, however           Nicole Kidman walks onto the
                   Perry still credits his success       red carpet, I can’t take my eyes
                   to the 15 years he spent on           off her. The show has to do that.”
                   the sewing machine.
                     In fact, in the lead-up to the      THE STYLIST :: TREVOR STONES
                   Rosemount Australian Fashion          With more than 10 years’
                   Week Spring/Summer 2008/09            experience in the fashion and
                   Collections this April and May,       magazine industries, Stones
                   Perry may once again be found         is the man Perry seeks advice
                   slaving over a hot machine.           from about the overall look of
                   After recently returning from         his acclaimed shows.
                   a research trip to India, where he      “Alex has a very set vision, and
                   spent two weeks formulating the       within that I push it to another
                   vibrant designs that will no doubt    stage,” explains Stones. “He
                   steal the show, he explains that      doesn’t want me to walk in


                         I think a lot of people think they are better than
                      the job. I will never ask anybody who works for me
                     to do anything I haven’t done or that I don’t do.
                   Fashion Week means all-hands-         and tell him that he’s fabulous
                   on-deck for his busy team – and       – he wants me to work with
                   that goes for the boss man, too.      him to make sure he sustains
                      “I think a lot of people think     being fabulous.”
                   they are better than the job,” he       The pair hold a preliminary
                   says. “I will never ask anybody       meeting roughly six months prior
                   who works for me to do anything       to the show, at which Perry runs
                   I haven’t done or that I don’t        “a brainstorming session where
                   do. If I ask you to vacuum, you’ll    he’ll just throw out everything
                   vacuum, because I do it too.”         that’s in his head and get my
                      With the designs finalised,        responses”, explains Stones.
                   the patterns are made and the         “Then he’ll take from me what
                   tailoring begins. Perry pulls         he wants to go forward with and
                   together a short-list of as many as   leave [the remainder behind].”
                   50 pieces before he chooses his         While Stones is called back at
                   final collection. “I edit what I do   various stages during the tailoring
                   so I have a concise point of view     process to advise on design
                   at the end of that,” he explains.     tweaks, perhaps his greatest task
                      Then comes the process of          is casting the models who will
                   casting models, creating hair and     wear the gowns. He and Perry
                   make-up concepts, and composing       may audition up to 100 models
                   a forceful soundtrack. It’s at        before they find the 20 girls who
                   this point that Perry calls in the    suit the seasonal theme.
                   expertise of trusted stylist Trevor     In the frantic days leading up
                   Stones, celebrity hairdresser Joh     to the show, Stones immerses
                   Bailey, skilled make-up artist        himself in finalising the fittings
                   Linda Jefferyes and internationally   and running order of the girls for
                   acclaimed DJ Sveta to make his        the fashion show. On the big day,
                   mission a spectacular reality.        he keeps an ever-present eye on
                      “We’re all fascinated by the       the flow of proceedings. “It
                   Cinderella concept – where            all looks fabulous when it’s on

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                         ALEX_PERRY_
            COVERSTORY
                                                                                    to get across, the clothes, the         blast the roof off Rosemount
                                                                                    hair – everything together.”            Australian Fashion Week.
                                                                                      It’s important for Jefferyes to          Perry uses loud dance music
                             DJ Sveta (below) lends her music                       understand the inspiration behind       to help add impact to his show,
                             sensibilities to Perry’s vision for the                Perry’s collection in order to          and DJ Sveta expertly merges
                             showing of his collection (bottom).
                                                                                    design a make-up concept that           his favoured beats with up to
                                                                                    will “complement what Alex is           20 pop anthems that feature
                                                                                    doing and find the look that suits      in various forms throughout
                                                                                    what he’s trying to portray”.           the approximately 12-minute
                                                                                      “His stuff is so amazing and so       soundtrack. After an initial
                                                                                    beautiful that I’m really pushed,”      briefing, the star DJ raids her
                                                                                    she says. “It’s a matter of trial and   immense record collection
                                                                                    error – sometimes things work           and fills three or four CDs
                                                                                    straightaway and at other times, it     with potential tunes that she
                                                                                    can take hours to get it right.”        feels will reinforce the theme
                                                                                      After practice sessions during        of Perry’s show.
                                                                                    which Jefferyes and Perry                  “Then I go to Alex’s offices,
                                                                                    finetune the look, a team of            where people are working on
                                                                                    make-up artists is briefed and          making the collection, and we’ll
                                                                                    the action begins three hours           listen to the songs as a group.
                                                                                    before show time.                       Alex will have really
                                                                                      “It’s always hectic and crazy         immediate reactions to the
                                                                                    backstage,” says Jefferyes.             songs. We get it down to about
                                Alex Perry is not only renowned for his
                                couture designs, but also his charitable            “Then, in the middle of it, [the        20 songs and then I’ll spend
                                interests. And this time, he has thrown             models] will be called out to           a week putting it together.”
                                his support behind the Virgin Blue Charity
                                Hangar Ball being held on 29 March. Perry           do a dress rehearsal and, of               DJ Sveta performs live at
                                has donated a ‘money can’t buy’ Alex                course, you’re fighting with            Perry’s shows and, on the day,
                                Perry Glamour Princess experience, to be
                                auctioned for charity at the event. Visit
                                                                                    hairdressers, who also want             she gets only one chance to
                                www.virginblue.com.au/hangarball for                time with the girls. Then the           rehearse. That’s also the time
                                event details. Be quick, tickets are limited.

                                                                                         I really had no idea what I was doing. I got a shop,
erry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry alex perry
                                                                                    fixed it up, made a few dresses, and then sat there one
                                                                                    day thinking, ‘My God, I’ve got a mortgage to pay’.

                                                                                    photographers will come in half         for last-minute tweaks and
                                                                                    an hour before we’re ready, and         revisions, and their final chance
                                                                                    they’re flashing lights at you.”        to cut the music down to fit the
                                                                                       Yet the result is always worth       allotted timeslot.
                                                                                    it for Jefferyes – and it’s proof          “[That means] the first time
                                                                                    that each aspect of the creative        I perform the completed version
                                                                                    process must be firing if the           will be live, during his show.
                                                                                    team is to deliver a successful         My hands will literally be
                                                                                    show. “The make-up is about             shaking. There’s no room for
                                                                                    finishing off the look,” she says.      mistakes. Every time, I feel
                                                                                    “It’s about enhancing and               like it’s going to be my greatest
                                                                                    bringing it all together.”              disaster, but it’s usually my
                                                                                                                            best take. I just get into the
                                                                                    THE DJ :: DJ SVETA                      zone and really focus hard. The
                                                                                    Whether she’s playing sets              only thing I can compare it to
                                                                                    at Sydney’s notorious Hellfire          is like being in extreme sports,
                                                                                    Club, a Mardi Gras party or at          because it’s really that scary.
                                                                                    New York’s hottest venues,                 “I’m really grateful to Alex
                                                                                    DJ Sveta knows how to bring             because he has always been
                                                                                    the beat to every occasion.             really public about the
                                                                                    That’s why Perry calls on the           teamwork involved in putting
                                                                                    Russian-born music buff to              together his shows.”

      038            VIRGINBLUE

								
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