Street Seen: I have a predilection for Japanese design

I AM a retired ballet dancer.

I AM WEARING pants from SA DOT NA. She is a Melbourne designer who used to have a shop just up the road, but she’s moved now. The jumper is from the Italian label Ferré, and my shoes are from Spring Court. They’re French sneakers. My rings and bracelet were actually made by my father, who was a diamond cutter. They come from Antwerp so they’re very special to me. They were made for my mother and I now have them. The glasses are Paul Smith. The earrings are pewter and someone gave them to me in the ’60s. I went through a period where I didn’t wear earrings at all because I had a very short bob cut and long earrings didn’t go with it, so now I’m resurrecting my earring collection.


Alida Belair-Sempill.

Alida Belair-Sempill.Credit:Arianna Lucente

I like to be comfortable and go for something that looks as if it’s kind of happened, rather than the clothes wearing you. I’m at the stage now where I like comfortable dressing, but I actually have a predilection for Japanese design, so that’s the look I tend to go for. I’ve sort of veered away from the classics that I used to wear a lot. I still like them on other people, but I tend to just go for that casual and comfortable Japanese style now. I do like structure, so the thing I like about designers such as Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto is that there’s a sort of architectural feel behind it.

I ADMIRE THE STYLE OF Audrey Hepburn, who was actually in the same ballet company I was in, which was the Ballet Rambert in London. The people whose style I most admire are those who really understand what their style is, so that comes with trial and error and a sort of maturation, I suppose. I don’t go for any particular designers. I know what my look is and what suits me. I think it’s a matter of knowing who you are and feeling comfortable in your own skin, and that’s why I mention someone like Audrey Hepburn because I think her style has transcended the ages. People will think Audrey Hepburn is synonymous with a particular style. She knew what suited her. I think it may also come from having studied dance and movement. You know what actually works on your body.

MY FAVOURITE PLACES TO SHOP ARE If I’m overseas, maybe Yohji Yamamoto or something like that, but I do like to mix things. I may resurrect an old bag from the ’30s. SA DOT NA make some really cool pants, I love all her pants. She has lovely summer pieces.

MY BIGGEST FASHION MISTAKE WAS probably wearing really uncomfortable miniskirts, particularly in leather. They don’t move with you and you have to keep yanking them down.

WHEN I WAS A KID I WORE a lot of red because my mother for some unknown reason thought that red suited me. It suited her as well. When I was a child, one didn’t have as many clothes as people do nowadays, so the special clothes I had really stand out for me. I was Clara in The Nutcracker for the Borovansky Ballet Company when I was 11, and I remember my uncle, who was a tailor, made me a fitted red coat, which had a leopard-skin collar. I felt like a princess in it. Because I was touring with the company, I had to have special little party dresses, but I was mostly in ballet clothes as a child because I was at class every day. I travelled with the company for a few years until I grew too tall. Then I won a scholarship to the Bolshoi Ballet when I was 17, and I stayed overseas and later was principal dancer at Ballet Rambert and the Royal Ballet in London. Then I went to America and was principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.

I WOULD NEVER BE CAUGHT DEAD IN clothes that look as if they’re wearing me.

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