What is your position and title?

I am a Freelance Stylist working on a range of projects. My regular gig is the weekly spread I do for The Weekend Australian magazine, which I’ve been doing for the past three years.  

Describe your role.

My primary focus is coming up with innovative ways to present fashion items, and then executing those ideas for shoots and fixed installations.  

Tell us about your formal background and training. What inspired you to begin your career in your industry?

After completing a Bachelor of Business at UTS I headed overseas, where I worked for a magazine in Tokyo and hung out with a fashion crew. My best friend was becoming a photographer and her sister a make up artist, so we had our own little self-contained team. We travelled around the fashion capitals – Madrid, Milan, New York doing model tests until we had enough experience to start getting paid work. It all started from there.  

What has been your career highlight?

Probably going to major shows—like Prada and Gucci in Milan and Louis Vuitton and Hermes in Paris—for the first time as an invited guest. I was Fashion Editor at ELLE Australia at the time and attending these shows was a thrill.  

How do you balance your projects?

I enjoy multi-tasking so the more I’m juggling the better it seems to work. I find one idea leads to another so the busier I am the greater the flow of energy.  

Who has influenced you most in your career?

I remember as a teenager watching a Clive James documentary featuring Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin … I haven’t seen it since but I think that was the “I have to do this and nothing else” moment … although that doco would be so dated now it was so inspirational at the time.  

How do you find inspiration?

I’m always on the look out for new ideas so it kind of happens organically … it may be an art show, or an interesting play on words or I may see a trend spotted by the street bloggers or a PR company sending across info on their clients’ products. Often it’s the products themselves that inspire a concept—if I really like something I think of ways to feature that product in a way that’s relevant to the brand and the audience. I bore my husband with random ideas on a daily basis!

In your opinion, how has the industry changed since you first started?

Fashion used to be more elite, with fewer people being ‘in the know’ or even interested in fashion trends. Because of the Internet, and more specifically social media, today’s fashion shopper has a far greater knowledge of what’s out there. The focus on ethical fashion is something I hope continues to gain momentum.

What local and international designers do you admire?

I admire Dries Van Noten’s consistency, Margiela’s original signature and Vyshyvanka by Vitakin’s craftwork. Locally Jac & Jack’s colour palettes rock and there is always something at Scanlan & Theodore. Zimmermann makes me proud to be Australian.  

What advice would you give someone interested your career path?

Get involved and do anything to gain experience. Travel, explore, observe … and develop your own sense of self. Over time, you’ll tend to fine-tune your own way of doing things and you’ll become known for that. For example, my love of still life conceptual projects is something I’ve gravitated towards over the years.

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned professionally?

Being passionate without being sensitive or precious. Often there are a lot of opinions and subjective ideas being thrown around, so you need to incorporate other peoples ideas and feedback—especially from clients.  

Have you experienced any challenges?

I moved to New York a few years ago and I had very few contacts there. Every job was a challenge … working out which showrooms represented designers down to choosing reliable courier companies. Just getting to know how the industry worked was challenging, but so worth it.  

How do you measure success?

Having scope to express fresh ideas and having the freedom to work with people I like.  

What words do you live by?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela.  

What is your next chapter?

I’m really happy with where I’m at right now, but in terms of future directions, I have no doubt it will be something ‘arty and crafty’. Find Viva on Instagram at @vivavayspap


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