She has her own shop on Gertrude Street where she sells clothes that she hand-makes, including silhouette dresses, catsuits and a current range of shirts that feature sayings from Heartbreak High such as Fang It and Rack off. When she was 16 she quit school to take up an apprenticeship at Rose Chong Costumes and..
Woah hang on your mum let you drop out of skewl? My ma would have killed me –
Nah my mum was a total bohemian. She had short peroxide blonde hair and big black mirror sunglasses like Annie Lennox. She hitch-hiked around Europe and spent the 60’s refusing to wear shoes. She would sing us to sleep with protest songs.
Rose Chong is an icon in Fitzroy what is she like?
Amazing. She was also a total bohemian – she ran away from home to become a beatnik, had two kids really young, then moved here from England with her Malaysian lover. She set up shop in Gertrude Street when it was rough as hell, and made her living by creating fashion costumes for theatre and film. There was an entire workroom of people making the costumes for the Rocky Horror Picture Show on my first day. I fell in love with the industry immediately.
Sweet what other costumes have you made?
I helped make a myriad of weird and wonderful costumes including
- under-the-sea costumes for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
- inflatable penises
- a gorilla top for Iggy Pop
- altered costumes to fit Iggy Azaleas’s bum
- a tiger cat suit with nude mesh
Then you went off to do your own thing?
Yeah I moved to the UK and worked at fashion houses like Christopher Kane, Nasir Mazhar and Richard Nicoll. I partied heaps in London and fell in love with an English Kiwi jewellery designer William Griffiths who lived in Fitzroy so after bouncing back and forth, I moved back home.
Your shop is kewl as, and not just because your poodle stands guard. What are your clients like?
Ace. Bold. Creative and pretty fearless. Kimbra was in the other day and wore my Prunella Catsuit to perform at the Supersense Festival. Cyndi Lauper came in for some of my Gloria Turbans, Peaches bought a cape off me. I dressed gorgeous Fiona from the Drones and the band Harmony for the Bakehouse Studios birthday party, and I get lots of people wanting custom things made for them – like the lady who wanted a burgundy velvet jumpsuit with a cream lace jabot and bum heart. She was rebelling against some comments from her conservative lover and wanted to bleach her hair and celebrate her ferocious femininity with a wild outfit.
Alice and her +1 made a poodle altar/ installation for the exhibition Salon of Spirits on until 22nd Oct.