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:: Spotlight :: Mercedes Australian Fashion Week - November 2003 - Wayne Cooper

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Tuesday night belonged to Wayne Cooper. Wayne has established himself as a top class designer over the past ten years and had a feature show at The Edge in Federation Square. It was a long wait for the viewing audience, but much anticipation, as celebrity model Paris Hilton was to participate and wore three garments in the parade. Leading Australian international model Alyssa Sutherland also took part and the parade showcased a “Black is beautiful” look under the banner of Hardcore Deluxe. With his customary edge and a collection oozing sex appeal, the renowned Wayne Cooper leather pants and jackets were striking as always. Other fabrics used included cashmere, silk chiffon, and black sheepskin.

It was then off to Wayne Cooper's party at Q Bar in South Yarra. Wayne was extremely happy with his showing and everybody celebrated with him. Although there was a separate area for Wayne, his wife, and certain guests, he made a point of speaking to all those who attended. There was some of the usual scuttlebutt from writers for the Sydney Confidential gossip column about the fact that Channel 7 was going to withdraw funding for the Hilton sisters if Paris was seen with Channel 10 Australian Idol identity Rob “Millsy” Mills. Well, they came to Wayne's party hand in hand and lapped up all the attention. It was a great party for those in Wayne's world.

A CHAT WITH WAYNE COOPER

About the Vodafone SIM dress which was launched at the start of Mercedes Australian Fashion Week…

We had a problem getting the 500 cards early. We worked it all out. The dress is a red stretched silk chiffon – the Vodafone red colour. It’s a beautiful deep scarlet. We decided to incorporate one of our dresses. We dropped trains of strands off it. We used 500 cards. It becomes an accessory (jewellery) that complements the dress. Erica Baxter looked great in it – fiery and passionate. She suited that dress.

It’s been twelve years since you started with the Brave label and then the Wayne Cooper label in 1996/97…

It was easier then than it is now. As each year goes on, things open up and there’s more things we have to do. It’s more difficult. Designing the clothes is one thing, but there’s a lot more around it. I also put a lot of pressure on myself as to the actual clothes I make. I take a lot of care in what I do. I’m my own worst judge. The clothes have to be right and you have to look at what kind of customer you have. That’s why we did the two labels because one suits a certain clientele; one suits another. It’s a serious business with more players in the industry now. You have to travel more now to show your designs. I’ve also started doing TV work.

About the Mercedes Australian Fashion Week, and managing your workload…

In May we get overseas buyers come to the show and they like it. You realise that there are more of them overseas and you need to bring it across there. We’ve had agents in New York, London and Tokyo. That’s quite difficult when you’re selling out of season. It can get as complex as you want it because of the different markets and timeframes. I have to choose to go the right way. I’ve got kids and I want to spend more time with them. I don’t want to be a working lunatic. I’m not that driven to spend all my time doing that. Before you know it, it’s fashion and nothing else. I’ve got a great team around me, though. It’s like a family. So when we’re working together and we’re out of town, it’s just like having the family together. That’s not such a bad thing. Anyway, next year’s Autumn/Winter MAFW should be held in October. October is better as we actually show our collections then. The earlier it is the better. We get early delivery dates from key retailers and we’ve already shown it to them and buyers. I’d be happier if it was in mid-October. I should say that I admire the way MAFW is produced. Jarrad Clark, from the Australian Fashion Innovators, is the event producer. He’s the best in the world. I can’t say enough about him. (Jarrad just happened to be walking by when Wayne made the comment).

Tell us about your shows. They bring life and action to an event…

We have a team of people around us who we work with. The more you know about the fashion history, the more you can draw down from. Fashion draws upon the different influences you have. I come up with the concepts of the shows. We’ve done all sorts of things, including working with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a theme based on Scarface, disco-flavoured settings, etc. That’s why we like to do shows – to bring life to the inspiration we had when we made the garments. That’s why we do more creative shows than most others. Some like to make theatre out of it. We don’t like to do gimmicks that take away from the clothes – just sleek and sexy. And that’s why we have labelled this collection as ‘Hardcore Deluxe’.

Television looks like a promising vehicle for you…

Yes, I’ve just signed up to do a TV show for Channel 7. A lot of girls out there haven’t got a clue about fashion and they’d like to have some clue. So, I’m gonna give it to them. You might say fashion’s shallow, but it isn’t. If you look good and feel good, then it adds to your personality and it’s empowering. You feel more confident and do more things. People are not sure what to buy or they don’t know if they look good in something. It’s all about self-esteem. Fashion provokes everything. You can’t get away from it.

Your thoughts on the future…

I have six boutiques in Australia now with a seventh opened at the new QV precinct in the city centre of Melbourne. In the future I’m gonna do a racewear collection next year. After seeing the races this year, I’ve realised that we don’t really do racewear and I’m gonna do my own collection. They go crazy about it in Melbourne. I’m gonna get an agent in Los Angeles and set up a showroom there too. We can do all the celebrities and sell out of there. We’ll keep moving along.

:: Wayne Cooper at MAFW November 2003 - photos by Carlisle Rogers