Australian-born Greek designer, Alex Perry looks more like a super hero than a superstars’ couturier. At the age of 50, he’s all solid muscle and boasts a physique right out of a Chesty Bonds commercial.
Perry’s appearance has not gone unnoticed in the gossipy fashion world. There’s even been speculation that the designer and TV model show judge is setting up himself to become the next Mr Universe Australia? It’s a novel thought but Perry bursts out laughing when this is mentioned to him.
“Not at all”, he tells SBS, “going to the gym and working out just keeps me in peak physical and mental condition for whatever I’m faced with in the fashion industry”.
In the past, the designer has been embroiled in controversy for allegedly fat shaming contestants on Australia’s Next Top Model. Putting this to Perry, he says his quest for perfection is personal and is only related to his own body. Perry adds that he’s “never criticised anyone for being fat”.
“Not at all”, he tells SBS, “going to the gym and working out just keeps me in peak physical and mental condition for whatever I’m faced with in the fashion industry.”
"I’ve always urged young models to take care of themselves especially when it comes to diet and exercise,” he says. "Models have to fit into sample size clothes, that’s why they have to be a certain weight but if they can do that, it doesn’t mean they’re fat.”
Whether or not you agree with his defence, Perry insists that he’s “toned down his negative comments” now on the show because young women might be more vulnerable to criticism and deserve more positive encouragement.
Perry also admits that despite his criticisms of young beautiful models, he's not perfect himself, and exercising and keeping fit hasn’t always come naturally to him.
"After the initial year of going to the gym, I grew to hate it and I had to drag myself there,” he confesses. “But I really enjoy it now. It makes me less stressed and then I can go home and feel normal,” he tells SBS.
"After the initial year of going to the gym, I grew to hate it and I had to drag myself there."
Perry explains that his home life could not be more different from the frequently superficial world of fashion. The man famed for his blue steel poses on TV often finds himself working as his wife’s sous chef in the kitchen, ever on standby as she prepares a major Greek feast for friends and relatives. It’s this kind of lifestyle that made it so easy for him to indulge in the past but no more.
“The big thing is to be consistent in your diet and exercise,” he says, “and that way you can avoid the middle-aged spread”.
“In the beginning, I didn’t look at exercise and training as a science. Sure, I would train hard back then but I didn’t eat well afterwards.”
It took his current trainer, Billy Kokinos to explain to him that getting results was 70 per cent about his diet.
“I’ve got it down pat now,” he tells SBS, “the food is really clean during the week with nothing processed and on the weekends I eat whatever I like. The longer that I’ve been following this regime, I’ve discovered that I don’t even binge as much as I used to on those days off. It’s basically about delayed gratification. I might fancy some spanikopita or a piece of apple pie during the week but I wait until the weekend to enjoy it,” he explains.
Perry says that his body shape has changed so much since adopting an exercise and diet regime, that the designer needs his clothes to be tailored and taken in.
“I buy shirts to fit me in the shoulders and the chest and just get them altered in the middle. It’s a very European thing to alter clothes for both men and women. You buy something off the rack and if it’s not right, you get it tweaked.”
It’s a small price to pay for the effects that training has on his vitality and self-confidence. He’s often at the local gym just around the corner from his Darlinghurst atelier for a 45-minute lunchtime work-out, while he also makes time to sit down and eat before he returns to the office.
“As you get older you lose muscle mass and you become sedentary,” he explains. “That’s the time when you should exercise more because it just keeps your body strong and your head clear. When I leave the gym, I can take on another whole day.” The hard working fashion designer and television personality never expected to be a non-official ambassador in the health and fitness industry. But it’s one role, he says, that really suits him.
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