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Fashion

2019 Golden Globes red carpet: Australian dress designers have eyes on the prize

  • Their names are less well known than those of their A-list clients - who include Meghan Markle, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie and the Kardashians
  • But glamorous gowns by these five Australian evening wear designers will be seen on every red carpet during awards season
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 5:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 5:51pm

Nicole Kidman is among four Australians nominated for awards at the 76th annual Golden Globes on January 6.

But they won’t be the only Antipodeans crossing their fingers in the lead-up.

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Among the names in fashion and luxury that will be awaiting sightings of their gowns is a small contingent of Australian evening wear specialists.

Ralph & Russo

At the top of the list is, of course, Ralph & Russo, the London-based duo who in 2014 became the first Australians invited to show on the biannual Paris haute couture schedule by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the organising body of the Paris shows.

Virtually unknown in Australia before 2014, when she operated a private made-to-measure business in Sydney, couturier Tamara Ralph has dressed celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Penelope Cruz, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Meghan Markle.

 

There are others who may still be based in Australia, but are now making names for themselves on the Hollywood red carpet.

Alex Perry

From January 3 to 7, Sydney-based Alex Perry’s resort 2019 and pre-autumn 2019 collections are being shown at a pop-up showroom at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. It’s the fifth time Perry has shown there in the lead-up to the awards season.

Perry shows four times a year in a Paris showroom and is about to take his biannual ready-to-wear bridal collections to New York to show for the first time.

A graduate of Sydney’s Fashion Design Studio, Perry launched his own couture atelier in Sydney in 1992, specialising in corsetry and evening wear. He launched ready-to-wear in 2004.

Perry is known for his sleek, minimalist evening wear with dramatic cuts and a bold colour palette. Stockists include Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi, Selfridges, Farfetch, Hong Kong’s The Loft and, from March, Lane Crawford.

“You’re not going to get the big red carpet moment straight away …. [for example] Gwyneth on the red carpet at the Globes instantly, it’s going to take a while for them to fall in love with the brand,” says Perry. Paltrow did, however, wear Perry’s lipstick red sheath with dramatic sleeve detailing for the 2018 Producers Guild Awards.

Perry is also becoming a favourite on the after-party circuit, dressing Emily Ratajkowski, Kate Beckinsale and Taylor Hill for InStyle’s after party at the 2018 Golden Globes, and then Australians Isla Fisher, Sarah Murdoch and Reneée Bargh at the Vanity Fair Oscars party two months later.

Perry has dressed Jennifer Lopez on numerous occasions, including the recent Robin Hood Foundation Benefit in New York. He has also dressed Elisabeth Moss; Rosamund Pike; Sandra Bullock; Mila Kunis; Hong Chau; Angelababy; Im Yoon-ah; Camila Cabello; and Hailey Baldwin.

Paolo Sebastian

Known for his dreamy, nougat colour palette and fairy tale gowns, Adelaide couturier Paul Vasileff collaborated with Disney for his 34-piece Disney princess-inspired spring/summer 2018 collection called Once Upon A Dream. Katy Perry wore one of those dresses for her American Idol Disneyland appearance in April 2018.

Designing under his first two names Paolo Sebastian, using the Italianised version of Paul, Vasileff, now 28, started making clothes at age 11, interned with an Adelaide tailor at 14 and launched a 63-piece collection at 17 as a school project.

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He briefly studied fashion and textile design at an Adelaide technical college and then Milan’s Istituto Europeo di Design, before formally launching his business back home in 2011.

He employs 17 people in his Adelaide studio. Fifty per cent of Vasileff’s business is international, with “demi-couture” versions of his collections sold through four boutiques in London, Doha, Singapore and Shanghai.

Each July for the past three years, Vasileff has also gone to Paris to show his winter collection in a showroom on the sidelines of couture week, with the hope of one day securing an invitation to show on schedule. Prices for Vasileff’s gowns start at A$8,000 (US$5,640) and can reach as high as A$30,000. 

Celebrity loans are coordinated out of the Adelaide office and a Los Angeles showroom. Vasileff’s gowns have appeared at the Oscars on Cynthia Erivo and Giuliana Rancic.

Major red carpet appearances in 2018 included Elizabeth McLaughlin for the SAG Awards; Julia Michaels for the American Country Music Awards and the Grammys; Wang Yuan Ke for the Elle China 30th anniversary style night; and Keltie Knight for the Met Gala.

Toni Maticevski

Known for his expert tailoring and dramatic, sculpted silhouettes, often with exaggerated volumes, Maticevski graduated with first class honours from Melbourne’s RMIT in 1997, before moving to New York to take up a position with Donna Karan in New York and then working for two seasons for Cerruti in Paris. He returned to Australia to launch his label in 1998. Since 2000 he has been showing his ready-to-wear collections in a Paris showroom throughout the collections seasons. International stockists include Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi, Selfridges, Harrods and Lane Crawford.

Maticevski has also shown many times on the catwalk at Australian fashion week and at New York Fashion Week and made his Paris catwalk debut in July 2017 during couture week.

Surprisingly, Maticevski does not yet have a Los Angeles showroom, preferring for the moment to do all US celebrity dressing via his Melbourne office. “As most things go, it’s all based on chance and the right moment, the right piece and the right person/s coming together for a special moment” says Maticevski. 

The many celebrities to have worn Maticevski on the red carpet include, in 2018: Tina Fey at the Mark Twain Prize; Renee Barge at the Emmy Awards; Penelope Cruz and Lena Gercke at the Bambi Awards; Khloe Kardashian at the People’s Choice Awards; Ciara at the ESPY Awards; and Jennifer Lopez at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards. He has also dressed Kim Kardashian, Lily Collins and Priyanka Chopra. 

Steven Khalil

Like Perry and Vasileff, Steven Khalil isn’t leaving anything to chance in Hollywood, amping up his presence there via a Los Angeles showroom for the past five years. Known for his va-va voom factor and glitzy embroideries, he has become something of a go-to couturier for Modern Family star Ariel Winter, who looked classic Hollywood in Khalil’s silver beaded sheath at the premiere of The Last Movie Star last March.

At the 2017 Emmys, she made headlines in his embellished black and silver sheath with a daring double front split, and she also wore Khalil to the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Khalil has also dressed Khloe Kardashian, Kylie and Kris Jenner, Paula Abdul, Giuliana Rancic (the 2015 Oscars), Taraji P Henson, Kelly Preston, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Rowland, Bella Thorne and Emily Ratajkowski (the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscars party).

Khalil doesn’t do seasons per se and shows infrequently at Australian fashion week . Bridal wear accounts for 90 per cent of his business, with prices starting at A$10,000 and reaching A$100,000. His gowns are represented at the exclusive London bridal boutique The Wedding Club.

Khalil studied fashion design at a Sydney technical college. At 22 he was named head designer at Mark Holt Bridal in Sydney’s Double Bay. He founded his own company in 2003 and today clients fly in regularly from the US, London, the Middle East and Asia for final fittings in his Sydney atelier, where he employs 22 people.

“It’s hard to dress a celebrity when you’re sending the dress from one side of the world to the other,” says Khalil of his LA showroom strategy. “If the dress is there and it’s ready, you’ve got more chance of getting it on the red carpet”.