Karen Cheng's Fashion and Life » Fashion & Shopping - fashion shopping

By: Karen Cheng  09-Dec-2011
Keywords: Fashion Events

Recently I went to 7 nights of glamorous fashion events, in 7 different outfits, at the Perth Fashion Festival.  Sounds considerably glamorous right? Such is the life of a fashionista, right? Ha!

Sadly, it is not always so.

If only I didn’t have to make dinner, wrangle kids into the bath, pick up their smelly socks, and clean tomato sauce from the walls… before I dashed out to these events.

The result is that I arrive at fashion events still in domestic-slave mode, and I have to mingle among the VIP gliterati, whose whole life is dedicated to looking glamorous.

Big tip. No one at a fashion event wants to know that you had to clean the green boogers from your toddler’s nose before you left the house. And that maybe you forgot to wash your hands afterwards.

Anyway, at risk of sounding like an ungrateful drama queen – I have to say that it’s really hard work to find 7 amazing, different, stylish and fashionable outfits to wear. And what is even harder than that is… to make sure your hair looks great for 7 consecutive days. Close to impossible.


When choosing your outfits, the first hurdle you have to resolve is to decide whether you want to have a bit of fun and DRESS TO STAND OUT or to just dress in your own personal style (which to all fashionistas, means you have to DRESS TO STAND OUT).

I don’t usually wear all black outfits to fashion events. It’s a bit boring and predictable. But this VIP event was celebrating Aurelio Costarella’s first big fashion show in Perth, so I chose to wear my only Costarella dress – a gorgeous ruffled, silk dress with an asymmetric hem. I felt it was an easy way to pass off my lack-of-glam as a homage to Costarella.

But as soon as I walked into the venue, I met Kee, a flamboyant fashion blogger from Malaysia. I didn’t *just* look drab next to him…I almost disappeared altogether. No one bothered to look at me. I clearly was a plain, dull, non-fashionista.

So I disguised my drabness by trying to be a very interesting, witty and intelligent person… and struck a conversation with this Kee fellow. He was good fun. I told him his outfit was chickenesque. You know, just a few feathers left over on a plucked chicken. Oh the wit!

I asked if I could take a photo of his crotch, because he had a painting of his own face between his legs, on his ass, and on both his shoes. But then I realised that I was going to have to get down on my knees in front of him to get the correct angle. For so many reasons – I had just met him, we were in public, it was way too early in the evening for that sort of thing – I changed my mind and converted the photo-opportunity into a more conventional side by side.

Throughout the festival Kee wore red, blue, black versions of this same outfit, and would you believe that even strategically placed feathers and a glittery crotch can look a bit dull after Day 4?

Such is the high standard and pressure of being a fashionista.

As for the rest of my outfit… my bag was not small, nor statement, nor an easily recognisable brand. It didn’t even hint at any of the trendy colour blocking or snakeskin detail that is popular right now. I grabbed it quickly on the way out the door, because it was big and it had to fit 2 cameras. Later on, I realised I had a baby change nappy kit in there as well.


As you can tell, I’m not usually into attention-seeking fashion stunts.  Fashion is fun to look at, but for me I just like to dress in my own style. Polished and practical. I dislike being cold I and dislike being uncomfortable.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. At least I remembered one of the golden rules of being a fashion model – if you don’t have something in your hand, put your hand on your hip.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of the other rules, hence, I don’t look like a fashion model. I just look like me, with my hand on my hip.

At the after party, in some drunken-photo-taking episode, someone spilled champagne all down the back of my skirt. Veeeeery glamorous. Oh well.


By now, my care factor was beginning to wane. All my fashion friends and I were comparing hairy legs and feet blisters.

I surprisingly had no blisters. Yay for quality shoes that look hot.


By Day 4, my Fashion Show Standard for grooming had pretty much dropped to zero.

My nails were chipped and twice painted over, my back was aching, my legs were stubbly, my skin was crap – and I couldn’t give a damn about the clothes I was wearing. I just wanted to see the clothes on the catwalk.

So I put on a nice and simple, favourite ASOS dress and hoped that it would make me feel better. And it did. A little. (A very little).

Here I am with fashion illustrator Pippa McManus and fashion designer Lisa Chau. Pippa is tall and fabulously arty, and Lisa dresses so edgy and hot that she is frequently mentioned in the newspapers. Me? Hey at least I remembered to put my hand on my hip!

A lot of guys walked up to me and said how gorgeous I looked. In any other context, this would have enormously inflated my ego. But at a fashion show, let face it, the guys are all gay, have a too-keen fashion sense, so I think they were just taking pity on me.


I was feeling so tired that I decided to spend the night at home. Which was a nice way of saying – I was pretty much over it. I needed a break from the this whole fashion fiasco.

I spent the evening with my husband, watching TV, which should’ve been lovely. But then I noticed that I was critically examining the clothes worn by the actors in car commercials. And I knew I needed to get a life.


It was a great show, but I didn’t even bother to take pictures of what I wore!

I just went into the venue, sat down, saw fashion, then left.

Now I understand why those people from the super-famous fashion elite seem so aloof and quickly leave after every show. They’re not going to the secret after-party. They just want to go home and watch TV!

Day 7

The final evening of the Fashion Festival was devoted to the 25 anniversary show of one of Perth’s most iconic designers, Wheels and Dollbaby, to be held in a spectacularly restored classic Colonial period theater. It was the most anticipated show of this year’s festival, possibly the decade, and fashionistas all over were writhing in pain because it was sold out months ago, and they had missed out.

And I had a free ticket.

But I also had a walk-in wardrobe full of nothing to wear, and my fashion appetite was ready to throw-up from over-eating.  I was scared Kee would be there, dressed in a Brazilian g-string mardi-gras peacock outfit, with his face tattooed onto his bare buttocks, and I would be dressed in a large brown paper bag.

I wanted to stay home.

My husband thought I should go. I pretended to be sick, but he took my temperature, fed me chocolate, said there nothing wrong with me, and ordered me out the door.

So I had to go. Maybe I’ll write about this amazing show one day. If I can ever bring myself to look at fashion ever again.

(Okay, it only took me 3 days before I found myself flicking through a copy of Vogue).

Keywords: Fashion Events

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