Even the most dedicated fans of the show What Not To Wear will be surprised to hear that Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine don't know that much about fashion.
They have said that they think LTIVogue magazine is rubbish because it doesn't really care about its readers, and that they're just as scared of going into flash shops like Gucci as the rest of us. When Constantine met legendary designer Miuccia Prada in Milan, at first she thought Prada was the cleaner because she was, in her eyes anyway, so oddly dressed.
No, what Woodall and Constantine know about is simpler than that. They know about clothes. They know about bums looking too big, panties that are visible and bras that are too tight.
Never mind that they're wearing and recommending designer styles of the sort that Prada originates. What Woodall and Constantine are all about is body shapes, the right colours and making, if not high fashion, then at least some nice, normal looking clothes accessible to every woman.
This sort of street-level approach _ plus the posh pair's infamous ability to tell it like it is when it comes to sagging body parts that need a lift, their use of words like tits and ass, and the fact that they're not backward in coming forward when there's a breast to be squeezed _ are what's made their makeovers so popular with anyone who's ever looked at the haute couture shows in horror and wondered what the heck high fashion was all about.
The sartorial champions of the ordinary have starred in various television series, published a number of books and released their own range of shapewear, which will soon be available in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the cruel-to-be-kind duo are paying a visit to little old Downunder next week. Viva squeezed some quick answers from them on the eve of their visits to various Westfield malls.
What is the secret of your success? Do you think people like being bossed about when it comes to their wardrobe choices?
Trinny: We absolutely love women, we are passionate about what we do and we get great results. Women see that our rules are manageable and make a real difference. I don't think we are being bossy, no one is forced to follow the rules.
What have you heard about New Zealand fashion - do you think we might need some help?
Susannah: We don't know how New Zealanders dress but we are looking forward to getting over there and finding out.
How seriously should a woman take personal style? After all, wearing a nice dress isn't like saving the world, is it?
Trinny: We do have a sense that as a woman you should make an effort and take it seriously. That's because when we see a woman who makes no effort, her first line of defence when we meet her will be, "I don't care, it's not important, there are more important things". But what always comes out of that is a lack of self-worth and it's sad for any woman to be feeling that way. Dressing well makes a huge difference to how you look, how you shop and how confident you feel.
How does one develop personal style?
Susannah: It is a myth that style can't be learnt. It's all about dressing for your body shape, following the rules and wearing colours that suit your skin tone.
You're often asked which celebrity you'd like to have a go at, so which ones would you like to makeover and which ones don't need your help?
Susannah: I'd like to dress Matt Damon, his outfits always look so boring. Sharlene Spitari and Sam Taylor Wood both dress fabulously.
Trinny: I'd like to dress Britney. Everything about her is very sad at the moment and it's easy to forget she is very pretty. Cate Blanchett always dresses wonderfully.
What do you think are the biggest issues affecting the fashion industry today? And how could they be resolved?
Trinny and Susannah: In our recent show we gave 100 size 16 women the same dress. And it fitted them all differently. Retailers often forget that women may be a size 16 but it's only for her boobs or bum. What we've done with our range at Littlewoods Direct [a British chainstore, a bit like Farmers here in New Zealand] is unique. We've come up with the best pair of trousers to lengthen the leg, the best coat to create a waist. The clothes work to re-proportion a woman's body.
Why do you think women feel so insecure about their looks that they're craving advice such as the sort you offer?
Trinny: The problem is that women try to dress like celebrities whose shape they just don't have. When you emulate someone else's dress sense with a different body shape it just doesn't work. And when you look bad, your confidence dips. Our advice is to go shopping armed with our body shape rules.
Meet Trinny and Susannah
* Thursday February 2812.30pm Westfield Albany, guest appearance; 6.30pm Westfield Manukau City, guest appearance
* Friday February 29 11am, Westfield Shore City, book-signing; 12.30pm, Westfield Glenfield, guest appearance; 6.30pm, Westfield WestCity, guest appearance.
* Saturday Saturday March 111am Westfield St Lukes, guest appearance; 2pm Westfield St Lukes; SkyCity Cinemas, show - exclusive event.