Catwalk Confidential

Robyn Peterson and Tony Abatemarco
Arts Theatre
(2009)

Publicity image

Robyn Peterson is bringing a touch of glamour to the Arts Theatre as the swaps the catwalk for the stage. Well, in actual fact she hung up her platforms quite some time ago as it was back in the 70s and 80s that she was the "IT" girl working with prominent photographers Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin and infamous fashion designers such as Dior, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent. In her heyday she graced the covers of Vogue and Elle and appeared on catwalks all over the world.

One of the first supermodels, Peterson shares her experiences of life behind the flashing lens in her one woman show, Catwalk Confidential about a girl who certainly lived and now a woman who has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Less Lilly Cole (her early photos bare an uncanny resemblence) and more Cybill Shepherd these days, Robyn Peterson is still utterly georgous and oozes sex appeal as she strutts her stuff down memory lane. Screens behind her flash with images of her home town Miami, Paris where she spent her formative modelling years and various magazine covers to suggest time and place. Peterson's stories are sexy, funny, shocking but nothing that we've not really heard before from the bizarre and wonderful world of fashion. Her one woman shows covers a period of ten years from the age of 16, when she landed in Paris and started booking jobs, to the age of 26 when still barely a woman she would already be considered past her prime.

Peterson speaks with confidence to the audience but lacks the natural ease of a trained actress. Her performance is very much a memorised speech and though these are her own personal stories, due to the nature of her delivery she seems detached from what she is saying. Having said this she is still incredibly alluring and succesfully charms the audience (although it should be noted that this was a fashion crowd and I'm unsure how much tales of a make-up bag weighing 15 pounds will translate to a less couture-savvy audience).

When compared to stories of other models from the 70s and 80s such as Gia Carangi, Peterson's story lacks the same substance. Rather than dealing with hard hitting issues such as drug addiction (although of course she had her dalliances) and bipolar disorder, hers is more of a story of how she catapulted to fame through stealing a wrap around bikini off another model for a catwalk show to become the talk of the town and an overnight sensation. Not to demean Peterson's story in any way - it's great to see a woman emerging from the modelling world so vivacious, rather than crippled with insecurities - it's just that her story is a little on the light and fluffy side.

However her 80 minute show still manages to entertain with her dry sarcasm; "You don't compete with brunettes, you kill them" and her sense of humour about the world of fashion; "Have you ever seen an outfit so perfect that it literally stops time?" If anything it's a shame the show comes to an end when it does with her at the age of 26 as, judging from the woman we see onstage, I suspect it was after her modelling years that the story gets really interesting.

Playing until 3rd October

Visit our sponsor 1st 4 London Theatre to book tickets for Catwalk Confidential

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan