Yip Wai Yee
The Straits Times
Monday, Apr 06, 2015
Foreign fashion gurus have, in the past, dissed Singaporeans for having poor taste in fashion.
In 2012, French designer Roland Mouret spoke about the many "fashion disasters" he saw during his stay here, particularly men with "the wrong shorts and the flip-flops".
A year later, Taiwanese style expert and TV host Pauline Lan gave women in Singapore a measly score of three out of 10 for fashion sense.
But top Australian fashion designer Alex Perry has come to Singapore's defence, saying it would be "wrong to generalise a whole culture or country that way".
He says: "There's going to be good and bad in every country. People are always saying Australians dress too casually too and that they look like they're going to the beach.
"So you will have people who dress good and bad, no matter where you go. In Paris, you will also have people who dress badly."
Perry, who has dressed models and celebrities Elle Macpherson, Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado, adds: "I've seen hundreds of women who dress beautifully in Singapore. So I can't agree with any people who say otherwise."
He was speaking to Life! over the telephone to promote the third and latest season of reality TV series Asia's Next Top Model, for which he is creative director and a new judge.
He has judged seven cycles of Australia's Next Top Model. Asia's Next Top Model, which is shot in Singapore and is part of the popular Top Model TV franchise by Tyra Banks in the United States, pits aspiring models together in various challenges and photo shoots.
Singapore is represented this season by 19-year-old Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw.
To avoid spoilers, Perry could not give away too many details about the contest but he says: "I just love the Top Model franchise. I love the fact that we get to search for ordinary girls who can become extraordinary models."
8 questions with Alex Perry
1. Do Singapore women have what it takes to be top models?
Of course. Singapore women are gorgeous. Before I came to shoot here, I used to fly very often on Singapore Airlines and, of course, the Singapore girls are stunning.
I've seen many girls going to work here who are beautifully dressed and groomed.
2. In the entertainment scene in the region, pan-Asian women are often considered more beautiful than pure Asian women. What do you think about that?
I find that really strange to hear. I love the Asian beauty and the Asian aesthetic. A model like Liu Wen, for example, is beautiful and classically Chinese.
One of the most gorgeous things about Asian women is their beautiful, glossy black hair. I just don't understand it when they make it blonde or orange.
To me, it's really weird - it's like they are from X-Men or something. I don't mind people playing with different looks, but when you physically change the way you're born, that's just strange.
3. What is your top styling tip for women who live in hot and humid Singapore?
The thing is, you climatise, but it's still important to dress for your body shape and to find what flatters you. Obviously, you need to wear things suitable for the hot weather here, so lighter fabrics would be good.
I've also seen people wearing beautiful pencil skirts with a singlet top and I think that feels right here. Also, keep your hair off your face by pulling it into a sleek ponytail and you'll instantly feel cooler.
4. What is your fashion pet peeve?
When women wear underwear that is too tight and you can see it through their clothing. Some people don't look at their backs in the mirror.
5. Apart from the Top Model shows, you have also played mentor on Project Runway Australia (2011). What was the transition from fashion designer to TV personality like for you?
I love it, it keeps things interesting for me. My main job is still designing clothes but I love doing other things that challenge me.
I love the people I work with on TV, I love all the challenges in the shows and I love to see people win at the end of them.
6. You were once in hot water for suggesting that a Size 8 Australia's Next Top Model contestant was fat by likening her pose to "overstuffed luggage". Are you more careful with your words now?
I think a lot of people are overly sensitive. What it did teach me was that when you're in the public eye, a lot of people are watching you. I'm more mindful but I've never wanted to offend people.
I certainly don't think people need to be a particular shape but if you want an international career, there's a standard sizing.
I'm not saying you have to be a size 4, but if you go and model in Paris, the samples are all a standard size 6. I'm just being honest.
7. How do you think the contestants on the Top Model shows see you as a judge and person?
I think they're a little bit scared of me. When they are asked about me, they say, "We can't tell what he's thinking". I try not to show any favouritism.
If I become emotionally attached to somebody, it clouds my vision. I would rather be a bit more standoffish and speak to them really honestly.
So if they did something wrong, I'd tell them.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
The most important thing is to be remembered by my family and friends.
I want to be remembered for being funny with a good heart, that I was creative, and more than anything, a fun brother and friend who was a bit cheeky.
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