Zippora Seven getting amongst it backstage at Annah Stretton - photos: Oliver Rose
In the interests of full disclosure, I can't claim true objectivity in the writing of this report. I've been holding something of a grudge against Ms Stretton for quite some time now. As a 21 year old working in an office, she screamed at me down the telephone for what was clearly an unintentional error. I then got yelled at by my boss. It was my first day on the job. Now with that out of the way, let's get started.
The show was split into two sections. Chameleon by Annah Stretton, and Annah Stretton by Annah Stretton. The first was a curious procession of ten girls in ten dresses. But according to the copy of Her Magazine - a goody bag score I flicked through while waiting for the show to begin - Chameleon was actually one dress worn in ten different ways. Tied, bowed, folded up, folded down, worn as a dress, a jacket, a skirt and a ball gown. How - especially when the fabrics all looked completely different - was a feat of magical proportions. Your guess is as good as mine. Dempsey Stewart led the girls out for the finale walk, clapping somewhat hesitantly all the way. One was left to wonder who - or what - the applause was for... Stretton? Or the clever dress itself.
Then came the moment we'd all been waiting for. Annah Stretton's offering for Spring/Summer 2011, titled Stop the Slaughter, inspired by cruelty free pig farming. Spoiler alert: no pigs' heads found their way onto the catwalk. Instead, the collection took cues from a late 1950s Brigitte Bardot. Apparently she was quite the animal rights spokesperson in her day.
The hair, as you can imagine, was big and Bardot-esque, but for one exception - each model had a Barbie farm animal plaited above her forehead. The clothes too screamed of the onscreen siren. Baby doll shorts with negligee wraps, cotton bikinis with tied tops and sateen rompers.
Rumour has it that Stretton never pays more than five dollars per metre for her fabrics, and if that's the case, a red and white gingham check must have been a steal - it showed up time and time again. As did a grey and black ruffled check and a lacy white curtain netting.
The best piece was an ultra short hoop skirt. It made the rounds three times to my count and looked good on each turn. Cute, girly and very of that 50s moment. Though I do wonder what her staple customers (ladies in provincial towns) would do with such a frivolous - and teensy - garment.
When it was all over, the models skipped to the end of the runway and go-go danced as Stretton took her bow. It was a fun show. Great girls, lots of laughs. But the ever present reality at an Annah Stretton presentation remains the same. The clothing looks cheap. Not trashy, but all too similar to something you'd find in a discount chain store.
But that hasn't stopped Stretton from building an ever growing empire that includes a clothing label, a chain of retail stores in prime real estate locations, and a women's magazine. So more power to her. Like the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That phone manner, however, could do with a little work.
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