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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Catwalk Confidential

Robyn Peterson

Venue: Baillie Room, Assembly @ Assembly Hall, Box Office: 0131 623 3030


Low Down

Catwalk Confidential is aptly named and perhaps because of this will not get the attention it definitely deserves. When you think model you don’t necessarily imagine captivating storyteller and traditionally this would be a book with a ghost writer. Robyn Peterson defies the traditional model stereotype in so many ways. Her one woman show knits together the tale of her journey from ordinary young and somewhat naive Miami beach all American girl to top modelling career in Paris with Couture Houses, top photographers and magazine covers, her inevitable fall from the top and subsequent reinvention.  By taking to the stage Peterson sheds a whole new light on the world of couture and makes clothes and the world behind their promotion sound very sexy and surprisingly fascinating.


This is no dumb blonde clotheshorse, but rather a former model turned actress who manages to map out her life in an hour with no boring bits. A gifted storyteller she captures her 70’s childhood through beautiful rose tinted glasses; chipped slightly and balanced out by a few harsh realities. Her fast rise in the fashion world, because of a big catwalk break, which was all down to her nicking from the star’s clothes rack, is so off the wall it can only be the truth.  Her fall from grace and how she dealt with it is all told with a twinkle in her eye and you get the sense Peterson has clearly lived. It shows in her face, not so much physically, but in the anguish and strength of character behind her expressive eyes.  This is not your ordinary model and certainly not reminiscent in any way of the ones who rule the catwalk today.

 Peterson has an hour to tell her story but it is clear there are hundreds more titbits missing and this show is one of the few out there that could have a solid sequel. She leaves you begging for more and it is more that I can do to contain myself from googling her the minute I arrive home. Peterson’s one woman show gives her audiences the key to a fantasy world that rarely gets truly unlocked. Yes, there have been countless documentaries about models and America’s Next Top Model blasts the bitchiness and fakery of it at you from the television, but Peterson gives it a gloss without finish and exposing it without trashing it. This is the raw truth to a world that has all but become extinct. This is the world of Langerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, and Valentino, of couture and when fashion was at its height.

Peterson makes the best use of her very small stage playing not only herself, but the roles of those for whom she was a muse and the men and women who framed her childhood and helped shoot her to fame. The collage of projected photos from her modelling days flash up behind her, creating a real frame for her story. The lighting is inventive and gives Catwalk Confidential credibility and weight as a piece of theatre.  

Not just a coathanger by any stretch of the imagination, this woman is the couture gown. If there is one fault it would be that Catwalk Confidential is too short but that is only because of the desire to know more about her. In essence Peterson has created a well rounded, honest, coherently produced show and is a must see for the festival.