My childhood in the suburbs of Melbourne was partly devoted to trawling the streets on my bike, but mostly to dressing up. Even a trip to the milk bar was transformed into a runway event – albeit for nobody but me – just for the fun of it, for the sheer pleasure.
Looking back, these childish outings were mad to be sure, but also wild and free, a nascent form of self-expression. Dressing up, I dreamed of transforming into an actor, like the ones I lived vicariously through on the big and small screens – and I mean dreamed, as I had no real belief that acting was something that I could actually do with my life.
Spending my days dreaming and dressing up, I was absolutely primed for an event like the Oscars – cue music – the film industry’s ‘night of nights’. It was an opportunity to see the creative geniuses I admired parading and being celebrated for their work in this lofty, elusive industry; wearing whatever the hell they pleased; expressing themselves.
When I was unexpectedly catapulted into the fray, I found myself in a wonderland of fashion. The late 1990s saw designers embrace the theatrical: McQueen, Yamamoto, Lacroix, Chalayan, Galliano, Westwood, Kawakubo, Viktor & Rolf – all pushed the boundaries of form, but also of spectacle. (Who can forget the 1999 McQueen show on ice?) The Oscars red carpet has always seemed to me to be a high profile intersection between fashion, visual art and theatre, so where better to showcase their dramatic creations? The clothes were nothing short of spectacular, and in a world full of street grunge, the operatic red carpet seemed one of the few places to wear them.