Tuesday, November 17, 2009

a film about Percy

Percy Savage

No party or fashion event is complete these days without the dreaded PR 'officer'. Apart from a few rare exceptions (and it's worldwide) they're usually rude and full of self importance and have done some useless "media " course at a technical school, tacking on a few initials after their names as they become instant door bitches armed with attitude,a clipboard and 'list'.

We've encountered them everywhere. In Sydney they have a turnover rate of about a year, after which one must explain one's impeccable press credentials all over again to a whole new clueless fool who thinks a scruffy paparazzi is of equal importance as the nation's top columnist. We've stood with astonishment at some doors where the offending dolt has muttered "your name is not on the list" as a troupe of Sydney's most infamous gate-crashers are waved through (and these liggers would be OK if they were personalities-which they ain't). In Melbourne they are marginally more polite.

But now comes a film about the legendary Percy Savage who died at age 81 in 2008. Percy was a Shuttle friend and favourite in London and invented modern fashion PR in the 1950's when he clad Elizabeth Taylor in a Lanvin gown for a red carpet premiere in Paris. The resulting pictures swept the world and the "red carpet' phenomena was born. Percy went on to become the greatest manipulator of 'press opportunities" for a host of celebrities like Jackie Onassis or Yves St Laurent.

  Savage in his Chelsea garden
Born just outside Brisbane, Savage travelled first to London in 1947 and then to Paris to escape Britain's post-war gloom. With little formal training he designed for Lanvin, Nina Ricci and Balenciaga amongst other famous fashion houses.And he hung out with Jean Cocteau.

  Back in London where he spent the rest of his life he promoted new younger designers like Mary Quant and Zandra Rhodes and made them famous. He specialised in seating arrangements for photo ops at runway shows, seating Liz Taylor with Mick & Bianca Jagger. Savage was a joy, a gentleman, flamboyant, elegant, grand and gracious but never a snob. And Dior named one of the world's most famous fragrances after him : Eau Sauvage!

Savage, A Life In Fashion is showing at the ACMI cinemas at Federation Square in Melbourne with Sydney dates to be announced. Don't miss it.