Twenty years of sleeping around
Without making any assumptions about his private life, you’d have to say the title of Peter Alexander’s book seems appropriate for a man dedicated to the bedroom. Celebrating 20 Years of Sleeping Around is a hardcover journal of the designer’s foray into the fashion field, and his successful transition from a simple mail order outlet to a household name with 13 retail outlets Australia-wide.
The book, written by Alexander in an informal style and littered with images of his collections over the years, also contains a message. The inside back cover is a before-and-after duo of photographs of Alexander, one before digital re-touching with notes such as “whiten teeth” and “get rid of bags”, and one after the “work” has been done.
“It shows people what we do. It’s half reality and half fantasy,” he said.
“I wanted to show people that this whole industry is based on fantasy and it shouldn’t be taken seriously.”
But although Alexander acknowledges fashion images do help shape self-image among young men and women, he is not making a righteous stance against the practice of perfecting imperfections: he’s simply being honest about it.
“I don’t think that we should necessarily stop it because it is marketing, it is business,” he said.
“Fashion isn’t there to make the world a better place. It is there to make money, so I understand the reasons why we do it, but it shouldn’t be a secret.”
As an openly gay man in the business, Alexander says he has never been discriminated against, unlike gay models who often stay closeted for fear of being typecast and losing work.
“The fashion industry is like hairdressing or a florist: we’re allowed to be gay. In fact it’s better if we are gay. People trust us if we are gay,” he said.
As to the worldwide backlash against using super-thin models, Alexander says he tries to find girls who are size 10-12, but they are hard to find – most are sizes six or eight.
“I insist on hips and tits for my clothing. I can’t have a boy-type of body because my clothes are sort of baggy. I need models that can fill out my clothes.”
Alexander’s latest collection – proudly displayed at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Week – is a mixture of over-accessorised bedroom wear and fantasy, the latter a fun diversion for the designer.
“The fantasy wear is all very camp, lots of feathers, diamantes, sequins and very short outfits. It’s a bit like if Priscilla went to bed, what would she wear? It’s the sort of thing that drag queens and pole dancers will think is fabulous,” he said.