Just quietly, designer Alex Perry thinks people are sick and tired of seeing him in their lounge rooms. With his success on hit reality show Australia’s Next Top Model, a recent debut at the Melbourne L’Oreal Fashion Festival (LMFF) and a new collaborative line with SpecSavers, the Sydney-sider is on everyone’s radars.

Fortunately for us, Perry found time to chat to Neos Kosmos before leaving for India, where he will design his next line. L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, which wrapped up two weeks ago, signified a turning point for Perry in more ways than one.

“It’s the first time I’ve shown in Melbourne, ever,” he says, emphasising a distinction between his local Sydney demographic and the clientele in Melbourne. “You guys don’t embrace the colour very easily,” he jokes, “it’s just a lot darker in Melbourne, people really love black and they love things that are a bit more tailored”. In Sydney a wider array of styles are embraced, the designer says. “There are people that love black, people who are into colour, people who like short, tight, low-cut styles…The girls in Melbourne are a bit more ladylike in the way they dress, in Sydney it’s a little bit more brash…in a good way.”

Perry’s Cuban Princess Spring / Summer collection, shown at LMFF, purposely avoided black. “I had to really contain myself because I love black, I love a black evening gown, or a great black suit but I really wanted you to notice the colours, white and nude,” he says.

While the inspiration for Perry’s collections come from countries he has visited, or wants to visit, the design concept of “princess” remains constant because “the Alex Perry girl is always the same kind of girl”. With this collection Perry was inspired by men’s suiting, particularly sharp, crisp, white Cuban suits, which he translated into womenswear, combining black with florals to create festival style dresses and also using bolts of Tamale red and Curacao blue.

Perry’s last Summer collection, Arabian Princess, comprised of lots of beading and red carpet gowns, which Perry admits are always showstoppers.

“I just wanted to reinterpret those,” he says. “I wanted [it] to feel very different from last season’s. It’s a bit more relevant.” With a broad demographic, ranging from 15 year-old girls who watch Australia’s Next Top Model and want an Alex Perry dress for their formal to “women in their 60s who look after themselves and want to look great”, Perry designs garments that span the ages and the states of Australia. “It’s a bit of a juggling act but somehow I seem to find that balance each time. Not everybody loves it, but it’s got a broad appeal, I think,” the designer says, adding “that’s why they pay me the big bucks!”

No matter what the collection, one thing the designer is never short of is glamour girls, with long-time friend and model Megan Gale, as well as supermodel Helena Christensen, both walking on the Alex Perry runway at this year’s LMFF. “I had Megan walk for me that week and she’s just such a great friend of mine and I adore her – I think she’s the most gorgeous Australian girl. And Andie McDowell I dressed on that same day and she was just so beautiful and then we topped it off with Helena. All of them were really great girls which made the whole thing so much more amazing,” Perry says.

The designer has always described Megan Gale as his ‘ultimate Perry girl’, “second to my wife Mary,” he is quick to add. “The first time I met Megan almost 14 years ago, she’d just come back from a stint in Italy – this was before she became really big over there – and it was the day before one of my shows and I just booked her immediately and I did ever since,” he says. Back then fellow Australian designers shunned the curvy model, Perry says. “They just never embraced her but I just instantly thought she was the perfect girl.”

This should come as no surprise as Perry has always been an advocate for feminine models, which is often considered unfashionable on runways. “I want them to look like women, I want there to be legs, waist, bust, I want them to walk like Sophia Loren. I don’t want a girl that could be a guy, I don’t want a girl that’s straight up and down,” he says. T

hrough his designs and models, Perry says he is not promoting unrealistic body images, but rather encouraging people to be the best versions of themselves. “When you see these models in reality they’re 5’11, they wear heels, they’re giants, they’re genetically blessed but it’s about looking at them as an icon of fashion; even if you’re 5’2 you can aspire to that sort of vibe that they give off.” “I look at guys on the underwear box when I get my Calvins and I’m not going to look like that, but it’s inspirational for me when I go to the gym. I’m going to become the best that I can possibly be, I don’t beat myself up because I didn’t happen to be born looking a certain way, so I think you have to take it the right way.”

With a new line of glasses for Specsavers, which went on the market three weeks ago, Perry is never one to rest on his laurels. “It’s so exciting, I’ve worn glasses since I was five but I’ve never designed them,” he says. “It’s been fantastic! It’s in its third week and is just going absolute gang busters, though I think people are sick and tired of seeing me in their lounge room, just quietly!”