Catwalk coup sparks Aussie fashion frenzy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 September, 1993, 12:00am

THE Australian fashion world is in a frenzy over the arrival of supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista, for an Aussie fashion spectacular this week.

Myer/Grace Brothers, the department store chain that has flown them in for a summer fashion launch, estimated to be costing more than A$1 million (HK$5.2 million), is being lauded by many in the industry as staging a coup that will boost Australian fashion worldwide.

The hype surrounding the event - a five-day tour and a 90-minute fashion special to be televised live tomorrow night - is such that one hair stylist is rumoured to have offered to pay Myer for the privilege of doing Schiffer's hair.

But others in the industry are wondering whether the availability of the supermodels for a trip Down Under reflects their fading stardom waning stars in Europe, where the starving waif look is in vogue. Expressing a view summed up by one headline writer as, ''superseded or supermodels?'', one industry observer has doubted whether the pair would have been available two years ago.

Next door at Myer's major competition, David Jones, spokesmen are playing down the visit and wondering whether the average Myer customer even knows who Schiffer and Evangelista are.

''Does she wear the sort of clothes these models are regularly photographed wearing in magazines? I think probably not,'' sniped David Jones' fashion merchandise director, Malcolm Sykes.

Myer has hit back, by poaching David Jones, head choreographer for its supermodel special.

Schiffer, who was ''discovered'' in 1988 in a Dusseldorf nightclub and whose name has been linked with Prince Albert of Monaco, was apparently so impressed with the Australian designs at an initial photo shoot in Paris she has added several to her wardrobe.

She will be combining her visit with the launch of a Revlon cosmetics range, for which she is the ''face'', and will be visiting Myer stores on a schedule that is a closely guarded secret.

Crowds that size could even make last year's visit of internationally renowned Australian model Elle ''the body'' Macpherson appear low key: she was mobbed as she modelled her underwear range and one man who heckled her later committed suicide by jumpingthrough a plate glass window.

Myer is doing all it can to capitalise on its international coup, issuing press releases about its two catches that even include details of Claudia Schiffer's beauty secrets (eight hours' sleep and drinking water), her travel tips (drink water) and her favourite clothes (jeans).

As for Linda Evangelista, a Canadian renowned for her chameleon looks, even her private life gets an airing. She's being ''romantically linked'' with Kyle MacLachlan, better known as Special Agent Dale Cooper of the TV series Twin Peaks.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong audiences may see some pictures of Evangelista in the Aussie creations, but there's no chance they'll see the German star: her contract specifies no international distribution of the photographs.