If all you knew of Australian designer Alex Perry was his laser-like stare and occasionally catty quips as a judge on Australia's Next Top Model, you might think he fulfilled the cliche of the bitchy fashion designer. But he wants you to know one essential thing about him: he plays it up for the camera and promises he's not really like that.
He certainly doesn't sound bitchy or catty when I talk to him over the phone from Sydney. Perry is a savvy and seasoned media performer and is actually downright chatty, warm and funny.
A fledgling model having a dig at the quality of your clothes might test the mettle of any designer, but when I mention this recent incident on Next Top Model, Perry laughs it off.
The comment was made during a challenge in which 17-year-old contestant Dajana Bogojevic was asked to change into an Alex Perry dress and his now-notorious thigh-high lace-up boots - which first appeared at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney earlier this year - while standing inside an old-fashioned telephone box.
"It might be easier if your clothes were better made," Bogojevic joked, before realising what a faux pas she'd uttered. Later, she waited nervously, expecting to be sent off the show for her dig. But Perry took it all in his stride.
"The funny thing is, after 20 years, fashion editors have rarely commented on the quality of my clothes, even though it's something that's been there from the very beginning," Perry says, sounding slightly bemused.
"It's taken two decades and this collection for people to say 'The quality of these clothes is amazing'. That's been really rewarding."
The designer's spring collection - named 75001 after the fashionable first arrondissement in Paris - features couture-like levels of detail on lace cocktail dresses that are both sporty and feminine. So successful was the collection that it gained Perry 40 new stockists worldwide, making it his most commercially successful to date.
His recent flying visit to Perth was solely to meet and greet admirers and potential new clientele at exclusive Nedlands boutique Elle, whose buyer, Natasha Marshall- Donnelly, snapped up the collection.
His clothes featured as part of Elle's spring parade and, significantly, he was the only Australian designer in the line-up, which also featured the likes of Givenchy, Lanvin and Giorgio Armani.
Perry arrived in Perth hot on the heels of caftan queen Camilla Franks, who came to town to officially open her Cottesloe boutique, and he was followed by Josh Goot, who attended the spring parade of one of his WA stockists, Subiaco boutique Ricarda. This influx suggests that Eastern States- based designers are beginning to look across to Perth as one of the nation's most economically viable and important fashion capitals.
"I actually feel really honoured to be stocked at Elle," Perry says.
"It's a fashion mecca that is known around the country and it's really on a par with any boutique of its kind in the world. I go to Melbourne and Brisbane a lot but I guess this is the first time really that I've had this level of interest in Perth."
He sounds incredibly chuffed with the response to his most recent work by those who might once have passed him over as the maker of somewhat conventional, albeit beautiful, evening wear and cocktail frocks.
"I've been in fashion for a long time and I just felt like it was time for something new," Perry says."The response has been amazing. I've had Sandra Bullock and Delta Goodrem wearing my clothes, had dresses on the cover of Harper's Bazaar and marie claire, and we've sold our collection to buyers in Paris. That was really significant to me and an extraordinary vote of confidence."