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Private Sydney: Designer Alex Perry’s walk from Chic ‘totally out of the blue’

Chic model management founder Ursula Hufnagl. Photo: Jon Reid Alex Perry is set to appear in a new season of Australia’s Next Top Model.

Alex Perry with Chic models wearing his designs. Photo: Chris Colls

Alex Perry and Megan Gale in Project Runway Australia. Photo: Supplied

It’s lawyers at 20 paces between fashion designer Alex Perry and his manager/agent of 10 years’ standing, as claims and counter-claims emerge about tens of thousands of dollars in back-pay.

For over a decade 20 per cent of Perry’s earnings have been paid to Chic Management, the Sydney agency founded by formidable German-born former model Ursula Hufnagl.

Over the years Perry’s business empire has grown considerably, with his eponymous fashion label, lucrative deals with Specsavers, television appearances on Australia’s Next Top Model and Project Runway and his work designing from expensive floor rugs to interiors for major residential developments. Perry has become a household name across Australia, and a multi-million-dollar brand in his own right.

However PS hears things began going bad for Perry and his relationship with the management team at Chic on New Year’s Eve when his talent manager Jane Weston received an email informing her Perry, along with his good friend, Megan Gale, would no longer be represented by Chic.

“It was totally out of the blue, none of them were expecting it … from what I hear it ruined their New Year’s Eve celebrations,” an insider told PS this week.

Perry declined to comment on the matter when approached by PS, while Chic co-owner Kathy Ward said she was unable to discuss the matter due to “confidentiality agreements”.

Both Gale and Perry are set to appear in a new season of Australia’s Next Top Model which is about to hit screens on Foxtel, while Gale herself has ongoing deals with big brands including L’Oréal Paris and her own swimwear label, Isola.

Neither Gale nor Perry remain listed among Chic’s “talent”, though they are only two of a long line of big-name stars to have walked from the agency in recent history.

Two years ago PS reported Miranda Kerr was leaving Chic, a move considered a body blow for Hufnagl’s business and described by one industry observer at the time as “the Chic is hitting the fan”. Hufnagl’s agency had nurtured the model’s career for many years and helped turn her into one of the world’s highest-paid models.

Since Kerr walked, so too has Perry and Gale along with television personality Sophie Falkiner, celebrity vet Katrina Warren, and bikini model Annalise Braakensiek, all names which had been managed by Chic for many years.Tilley finds new holiday idyll after US snub

A quick glance at the social media feed of Sophia Tilley, the glamorous Sydney socialite who starred at the centre of the ICAC probe into NSW Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, it is clear she is a woman who knows how to holiday in style.

From bikinis in Mexico and hot tubs in Sydney, to cocktails in Mykonos, it is evident the pretty brunette has a taste for the good life.

But the party came to a sudden end a fortnight ago when Tilley attempted to enter the United States for a much anticipated holiday to the Burning Man festival.

Tilley was refused entry by US Border Protection officers, however, her Sydney solicitor denied swirling rumours to PS that it was because of her appearance at Waverley Local Court last month where she pleaded guilty to cocaine possession.

According to Tilley’s solicitor, she was stopped by US customs because of a “mix up”, which had left her without a return ticket, a condition of entry to the United States for tourists, even well-travelled ones like Tilley.

A spokeswoman from US Customs and Border Protection was unable to comment on Tilley’s case specifically, citing privacy laws, however, she did explain the legal framework the authority works within and that “aliens who have been convicted of, or voluntarily admit to having committed a crime involving moral turpitude are excludable”.

Sophia Tilley with her former boyfriend Stephen Wyllie, son of NSW Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen. Photo: Stephen Wyllie/Facebook

Last month Tilley, the former girlfriend of Cunneen’s son Stephen Wyllie, managed to avoid a conviction for possession 0.3 of a gram of cocaine but was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

According to court documents the 27-year-old from Double Bay was arrested on April 8 in Bellevue Hill when police in an unmarked car found a white powder in a small plastic bag in her handbag, which was confirmed to be cocaine.

Indeed Tilley, a popular fixture on Sydney’s social scene, would have been looking forward to getting away for a break. At Waverley Local Court magistrate Michael Barko said an “ad nauseam amount of media” had negatively impacted her mental health. Tilley, who no longer works in the Double Bay real estate agency where she was employed during the ICAC scandal, has since undergone rehabilitation.

“It is only very rarely that young people get so much publicity for these types of offences,” Barko said.

But her holiday plans in America were dashed when she was refused entry, resulting in some speedily hatched plans for a trip to Mykonos, from where she was posting idyllic images this week on her Facebook account.

Tilley was catapulted into the media spotlight when Cunneen was accused by the corruption watchdog of advising Tilley to fake chest pains to avoid a breath test at the scene of a car crash in 2014.

ICAC was forced to drop the probe into the NSW deputy crown prosecutor after the High Court ruled it had over-stepped its jurisdiction.Solomon tips popularity surge for The Paddington Inn

It’s been 30 years since millionaire pub baron Bruce Solomon took ownership of The Paddington Inn, and both he and the iconic watering hole have seen Oxford Street’s fortunes rise and sink over that time.

But on Wednesday night Solomon was confident Sydney’s former social hot-spot was on the rise again, investing heavily in a multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the hotel, which opened officially on Friday after a midweek “housewarming party”.

“I think the time is right for Paddington to emerge again as a key destination for people to come and enjoy the incredible array of venues that are now here … including The Paddington Inn,” Solomon confidently predicted to PS, noting that one of his friendly rivals up the road, Justin Hemmes, had already been in to offer his best wishes. Hemmes and his similarly named Paddington have been doing a roaring trade since he opened the doors on the ambitious venue, with two more ventures about to open.

Matt Moran (left), Anna Solomon and Bruce Solomon enjoy the atmosphere at The Paddington Inn relaunch. Photo: Fiora Sacco

But it was Solomon, who has now been joined in the business by his interior-designer daughter Anna, who was there first. During his tenure the Paddington Inn has helped nurture some of the great food talents of Sydney including Paul Merrony and Steve Manfredi, as well as his latest business partner, Matt Moran, the television chef having spent part of his early career rattling the pans in the pub.

Moran was also there on Wednesday night, but not in the kitchen, having now stepped up to become Solomon’s business partner after parting ways with his previous partner of 24 years, Peter Sullivan, last year. Between Moran and Solomon their empire now spans about 30 landmark venues across Sydney and Brisbane, including The Australian Hotel in Chippendale, The Clock Hotel in Surry Hills, The Sheaf in Double Bay, Darlinghurst’s Green Park Hotel, Opera Bar, Chiswick and Aria.MacPherson and first hubby Bensimon in Sydney for shoot

Nearly three decades after the marriage came to an end, Elle Macpherson is jumping back into bed with her first husband, French fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon​. Well figuratively speaking at least.

And they are doing it in Sydney.

Macpherson and Bensimon are in Sydney this weekend for a big budget photo shoot on behalf of Elle Australia for an upcoming cover of the high-end fashion magazine.

Bensimon has been a key part of the Elle brand – both the magazine and the model – internationally for many years, having shot some of the world’s most beautiful women for the masthead, including his now ex-wife with whom he remains close friends.

In 1986 Bensimon shot Macpherson for the cover of Elle with zinc slathered over her nose.

Gilles Bensimon in New York’s West Village in 2014. Photo: Alo Ceballos

And 30 years later it is Bensimon who has shot the marketing imagery to launch Macpherson’s new lingerie brand, Elle Macpherson Body.

As PS revealed previously, the campaign features a Danish lookalike model, Kirstin Liljegren​, who at 19 bears a striking resemblance to a young Macpherson.

Indeed Macpherson wasn’t much older than Liljegren when she married Bensimon in 1986. Bensimon was 43 and his young bride just 22.

Their marriage came to an end in 1989, with Macpherson going on to form a long-term relationship with Arpad Busson​, the father of her two sons, Cy and Flynn, though these days she is married to reclusive Miami billionaire Jeffrey Soffer​.Australian beauties wow Bieber

Justin Bieber’s much hyped “harem” has a distinctly Aussie flavour, with no less than three “babes” from “down under” making the just-out-of-puberty pop star’s “final cut”. Over the past few weeks showbiz media outlets around the world have been abuzz with reports of Bieber’s bevvy of beauties, but PS can reveal that at least three of the leading ladies in the singer’s world hail from around these parts.

First it was Sahara Ray who was frolicking in her birthday suit with Bieber in Hawaii a few weeks back. Ray was born in Australia and is the daughter of Gold Coast native and big wave surfer Tony Ray.

But Sahara has since been usurped for the position of Bieber’s “top girl” by another Australian beauty, Sydney born and raised Bronte Blampied.

The striking young woman has been, ahem, enthusiastically, documenting her close encounters with the famous pop star on her Instagram feed, while her equally beguiling sister, another Sydney model named Madison, also has become firmly ensconced in the Bieber posse, which is pretty impressive for a guy who appears to be unable to get a five o’clock shadow. Indeed, a new generation of Sydney “it girls” has dawned.Milijash farewelled by friends 

Close friends from across Sydney’s fashion, media, showbiz and hospitality circles gathered at Waverley Cemetery yesterday to bid farewell to Jackie Milijash, who was found dead on the floor of her kitchen at her Avalon home two weeks ago, aged just 52. 

Jackie Milijash at Jackie’s Restaurant and Bar in Bondi. Photo: Tamara Voninski

Milijash, who was found by her mother, had endured a long battle with chronic pain but had managed to overcome such obstacles to become a popular fixture for many of Sydney’s movers and shakers, helping to create the city’s distinctly cool cafe culture of the 1990s with venues such as Jackies at Bondi Beach and later at Paddington. A wake was held for Milijash at North Bondi RSL, and while the day was shrouded in sadness, friends wanted to ensure her life was celebrated too.

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