The Category is: High Fashion Extravaganza

Lorraine Downes

With fashion weeks around the world being cancelled and everyone questioning their values as a consumer, it’s never been a better time to celebrate the pure fabulousness of fashion’s past, and the incredible minds that helped shape some of its more significant moments. Fashion’s Front Row – Presented by Lorraine Downes, a series premiering on Thursday nights at 8:30pm during August on Rialto Channel, aims to do exactly that.

The seriously iconic former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes fronts the series, which follows some of fashion’s biggest names – and shares a timeline that also mimics Downes’ own fashion career.

“My career as a model began in the early 80s, and that was the time of dressing to excess and high glamour with New Zealand designers like Patrick Steele and Adrienne Winkelmann,” says the ageless blonde. “It was also a time when fashion shows were regular big events.” It is the former Miss Universe’s first foray into presenting, and she does us proud. “I have always said you are as good as the team you are working with,” she said of the experience, “and this shoot was filled with such positive, happy energy I felt in very good hands.”


The first film in the series to air is the documentary Halston, which explores the life and times of the legendary US designer who went solely by his middle name. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng (Dior and I), it’s a heady mix of archival footage and intimate interviews with Roy Halston Frowick’s friends, family, and collaborators, including Liza Minnelli. As America’s first superstar designer, Halston created an empire, making hot pants a veritable movement in the sixties and Ultrasuede shirt dresses de rigeur in the seventies.

Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent, the second in the impeccably groomed line-up of films, is the controversial Yves Saint Laurent documentary that the designer’s long-time partner Pierre Bergé did not want anyone to see. It was filmed in 1998-1999 when French filmmaker Olivier Meyrou followed the great designer as he prepared what would be his final collection before the top-tier fashion brand sold to Gucci the following year. It was the end of an era, as Saint Laurent was already the last of the great French designers to operate his own house, and the man Meyrou observed was far different from what his legend suggested: reclusive, irritable, virtually silent, and almost a puppet in the hands of Bergé. Saint Laurent died a full decade later but seems barely-there in this often contradictory portrait, which is simultaneously respectful of his genius and perturbed by the tragic figure Saint Laurent has become.

In striking contrast, Jean Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic the following week shows us a designer who at 68 has never been more cheeky – or devoted to the single pursuit of fun. Any designer can stage a runway show, but only the inimitable Gaultier could pull off a full-scale revue – the “Fashion Freak Show” – at the Folies Bergère. In an all-access look behind-the-scenes, Freak & Chic is a non-stop romp through the creative process that leads up to the super glamorous cabaret, and plunges viewers into the eccentric and often provocative universe of this iconic genius. It’s am intimate look at the incredible detail that went into each and every element that made up the show, including the 200 plus costumes, intense choreography, original music and immersive set designs. The show is the story of Gaultier’s life and includes moments both good and bad from his feelings of rejection as a child through to his rise up the fashion ranks, and his unabashed love for his late partner Francis, who passed away next to him from AIDS-related complications.

Fashion’s Front Row – Presented by Lorraine Downes premieres every Thursday night in August, 8.30pm, on SKY’s Rialto Channel 39. For more info, please go to

Article | Helene Ravlich.