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Perth International Cabaret Festival begins with the sensational Glynis Traill-Nash

The Perth International Cabaret Festival is underway kicking off 10 nights of performances from some of the most celebrated performers from around the globe.

Beginning the festivities was the world premiere of In These Shoes from Glyniss Traill-Nash. The respected fashion writer has led a double life spending her days critiquing the work of fashion designers in Milan, New York and Paris, while taking to the stage at night in jazz clubs.

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Her show successfully combines these worlds, sharing hilarious tales of her life as a reporter assigned the fashion beat, while cleverly interweaving songs that matched the narrative.

Traill-Nash mad a big entrance Downstairs at the Maj, appearing in a flowing forest flowing green gown that gave us flashbacks to 70’s icons like Nana Mouskouri, Shirley Bassey or The Saturday Show’s Louetta Farrar. Created by a fashion designer friend, and filled with ornate beading created in Mumbai, it was as expected the perfect outfit for the show; bold, unexpected, beautiful and slightly over-the-top.

Opening up Jon Pizzarelli’s lesser-known song Style is Coming Back in Style; the scene was set for a journey through the worlds of haute couture and musings on sartorial significance.

Traill-Nash’s journey didn’t begin in the fashion houses of London and Berlin though, it began in suburban Kelmscott. A rendition of Secondhand Rose, a song first sung by Fanny Brice over a hundred years ago, was the perfect tune to explain a love of op-shops and discovering lost fashion from decades gone by.

Performances were punctuated by behind-the-scenes tails of working in on glamourous magazines and meeting the big wigs of the fashion world. Traill-Nash shared her love of the fashion world, while at the same time not taking it seriously for a moment.

Hilariously she described the very real micro-trends of the industry asking if this year’s must-have trench coat should be tan, beige, chalk or sand in colour.  

One song we knew would be in the show was the one in the title, Kirsty MacColl’s comical In These Shoes. The performer wonderfully hamming it up to the max while wearing a stunning pair of Jimmy Choo stiletto’s which she declared were most of the show’s budget.

A show taking its inspiration from the fashion realm would of course have a few costume changes, one leaving the audience with a moment to get to know the other people on their table as the three-piece backing band launched into an appropriately jazzy take on David Bowie’s Changes.

While the recollections of a 20-year career in fashion matched with a collection of eclectic song choices was an absolute romp of fun, the show also was punctuated by poignant moments. Traill-Nash powerfully used descriptions of the world of fast-fashion to illustrate how life can spin out of control and feel at times like a merry-go-round that we can’t get off.

One of the most impressive things about this show was the song selection, you never knew what was coming next, from a tune a 50s musical, to a pop number from the 80s, a jazz standard from the 40s – every time the band struck up it was a pleasant surprise.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to meet Anna Wintour, or Jean-Paul Gaultier, or spend eight hours teetering in stilettos covering the Melbourne Cup, or spend your life travelling from New York to London, to Paris and Milan – Glynis Traill-Nash is sharing her journey in the most fabulously fun and fantastic way. Why write an autobiography when you can tell it all through the magic of cabaret!

Catch the second show of In These Shoes – Glynis Traill-Nash Downstairs at the Maj tonight. Check out the full 10 days of cabaret celebration of the Perth International Cabaret Festival.

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