TYLER RECEIVES GUMLEAF AWARD
Byline: Kristin Young
LOS ANGELES — He might be widely cast as an American designer, but Richard Tyler’s fellow Aussies treat their native son like a hero.
And a hero’s welcome he received last Friday when the Australian American Chamber of Commerce bestowed its annual Gumleaf Award for his contribution to Australian and American culture and commerce at its annual Australia Day Ball on Jan. 26 at downtown’s Regal Biltmore Hotel.
Previous winners include actor Geoffrey Rush and singer Olivia Newton-John (whom Tyler wrapped in black spandex for “Grease”).
“He’s such an icon for us,” said actress Sarah Wynter, a fellow Australian, who arrived in a brief red Tyler dress. “People don’t think of Australians being on the cutting edge of fashion. But he’s really made it. It’s so glamorous, what he does — all about celebrity and glitter.”
The soft-spoken Tyler, who attended with his wife and business partner, Lisa Trafficante, and two sons, Edward and Sheridan, was quick to downplay such musings.
“That’s a little scary,” the designer quipped, but added the love is mutual.
“It’s fabulous to look back,” he said, recalling the days when he lived in Australia, where, barely out of his teens, he opened a small shop and sold edgy tailored clothes. He first ventured to the U.S. in 1978 and produced touring wardrobes for Rod Stewart, Elton John and many other rock stars.
“[Hollywood] was the place where I really wanted to come and the place where my parents wanted me to come to realize what I wanted to do,” he continued. “It’s pretty difficult to actually make it and to be here a career later. To think it happened. It really happened.”
Later in the evening, Tyler presented his revealing spring signature collection.
Actress Kimberley Davies, Sean Ferrer (Audrey Hepburn’s son), Suzanne Somers, Emilio Estevez, VH-1 host Mason Dragotto and producer Grant Hill turned out for the event.
“I discovered Richard Tyler by accident maybe 13 years ago,” said Somers, who showed up in head-to-toe Tyler. “I walked into Neiman Marcus and there was a trunk show of the most beautiful clothes I had ever seen. The first thing I bought was this blue-velvet jacket with amazing embroidery on the back. And what’s incredible about Richard is that I still wear that jacket. When I got dressed tonight, I pulled from a decade’s worth of clothes. I have closets full.”
Dragotto, with boyfriend Estevez in tow, wore Tyler’s gold evening gown. The VH-1 host, who’s also a qualified helicopter pilot and marine biologist, said she wished the designer would produce an activewear line for her upcoming show “Bands, Brawn and Blister.”