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15 March 2005
 
Fashion Designer
 
Go to Perth in Western Australia and take a look at the local fashion industry.


LAYLA TUCAK: Fashion: a surreal, ever-changing otherworld of glamorous models, bearing little or no resemblance to the average woman, wearing everything from the beautiful, to the impractical, to the outrageous.

It's a big-name, big-budget business.

And having creations displayed on the catwalks of the world is a dream to most designers.

Only a few designers reach that summit and Perth fashion designer, Ray Costarella, is one of them.

RAY COSTARELLA, PERTH FASHION DESIGNER: I seem to recall that we had three in the front.

LAYLA TUCAK: His studio in Mount Lawley is a long way from Paris or Milan, but it's here where Ray Costarella's fashion journey began.

RAY COSTARELLA: OK, what I'll do is I'll just get you to slip into the dress.

LAYLA TUCAK: At just 19 years of age, he plucked up the courage to show his fledgling collection to the owner of a funky Perth clothing store called Creme Soda.

RAY COSTARELLA: And they loved what I was doing and within six months 70% of the product in the store was mine and it was selling really well.

LAYLA TUCAK: It wasn't long before Ray bought into the Creme Soda business and after a year took over full ownership.

RAY COSTARELLA: I didn't have any real plans. I didn't know where it was going to head. I didn't have any training in the industry. I was purely self-taught.

LAYLA TUCAK: Within 12 months, the Ray Costarella label was being sold in 50 stores around Australia and had agents in every capital city. Former model and now head of Vivien's modelling agency in Perth Chris Fox has worked with Costarella for almost 10 years.

CHRIS FOX, VIVIEN'S MODEL MANAGEMENT: It was always prestigious and, oh, just to wear one of his garments in a show. It was always the finale garment so it was always the most beautiful gowns.

And he was just ahead one step ahead of everyone.

RAY COSTARELLA: I took a year off and really didn't know if I wanted to be a part of the fashion industry again. But, in retrospect, it was probably the best thing that could've happened because it gave me time to reflect and think about what I wanted to do and what was really important to me. And, ultimately, it was being creative that was the thing that I was most passionate about.

LAYLA TUCAK: In 2000, Ray Costarella relaunched himself as 'Aurelio Costarella', Aurelio being his real name. It was Australian Mercedes Fashion Week and the revitalised Ray Costarella was a huge success.

RAY COSTARELLA: It was quite an emotional experience and I remember, um, at the end of the show just barely being able to walk down the runway without bursting into tears.

LAYLA TUCAK: Most WA designers move either to Sydney or Melbourne, but reaching for the stars from anywhere outside of Perth was never a consideration for Ray.

RAY COSTARELLA: I was determined that I could make Perth my base and still do what I wanted to do without actually having to get up and move. And, in retrospect, I'm really glad that I've done that.

CHRIS FOX: He's definitely put us on the map and the respect value, I think, on a national basis, is huge for him. And he hasn't had to leave Perth, which is pretty amazing.

LAYLA TUCAK: These days, Ray's selling clothes around the world. He's launched another label aimed at the younger market and next month he's launching a couture collection. In June, Aurelio Costarella, the man, turned 40. And, if life only begins in that milestone year, the fashion-conscious have a lot to look forward to.


story notes

 surreal
 
Surreal means strange and not like reality.

 ever-changing
 
Ever-changing means always changing.

 otherworld
 
The term otherworld refers to a different or ideal world.

 glamorous models
 
Models are people who wear designer's clothes so that they can be photographed or shown to people who might buy them. Glamorous means that they're attractive and exciting.
 

 bearing little or no resemblance
 
The word resemblance means similarity in appearance. To bear resemblance to something means to look similar to it. These models bear little or no resemblance to the average woman. That means they don't look like average women at all.
 

 impractical
 
Impractical means not practical. The clothes the models wear are not useful or good for using everyday.
 

 outrageous
 
Outrageous means shocking and strange.
 

 creations
 
A creation is a thing that has been created, or made. In this case, the creations are the clothes.

 catwalks
 
A catwalk is a long narrow stage that models walk down.
 

 fashion designer
 
A fashion designer is someone who thinks up ideas for new clothes.

 began
 
The past tense of the irregular verb begin.
 
more information: begin

 bought into
 
Bought is the past tense of the irregular verb buy. To buy into is to buy part of a company.
 
Example: I want to buy into a successful business.
 
more information: buy

 sold
 
The past participle of the irregular verb sell.
 
more information: sell

 finale garment
 
The finale is the last part of a show or performance. It's often the most exciting part. Ray's clothes were always the last to come out at a fashion show because they were so beautiful.
 
A garment is a piece of clothing.

 gowns
 
A gown is a dress.

 one step ahead
 
always achieving something new

 gave
 
The past tense of the irregular verb give.
 
more information: give

 done
 
The past participle of the irregular verb do.
 
more information: do