Australian Stitches

BILL BLASS

Sometime back in the 1990s several top American fashion designers and other assorted industry types gathered in New York to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a group runway show. When the question of what type of fashion should be emphasised came up, with a suggestion for more ‘wearable’ clothes that would appeal to women of all ages, one designer said, ''We don't want women like that.'' To which a voice piped up from the back of the room with: ''I'll take 'em!''

That gruff, cigar-smoked voice belonged to a man who not only brought the designer profession out of the factory backrooms and into the social limelight, but who also came to define a distinctively American breed of witty, urbane glamour. It was the type of glamour that was as gutsy, as racy and as assured as the ‘dames’ he was inspired by up on the Hollywood screen in his youth,

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