Catherine Baba is one of those rare creatures of the fashion world so fabulous and so unique that she defies categorisation. Muse, stylist, designer, consultant, model; all of these titles apply to the Sydney-raised, but now Paris-based creative. Having lived in the City of Lights for over 20 years, French language heavily peppers any conversation with the petite style maven – with the phrase ‘j’adore‘ used emphatically to describe only the things that truly ignite passion in this fashion all-rounder.
If you haven’t seen Catherine’s styling work for the many international titles and designers for whom she’s worked, you may instead recognise her from the plethora street style photos of her riding her bicycle around the cobblestoned streets of the French capital, such is the distinctiveness of her personal style. During a recent trip to Australia, Catherine was kind enough to model some of her favourite looks from Parlour X and explain her extraordinary professional path.
Why did you initially move to Paris in 1996?
I moved in 1994 to study fashion, and to continue working in fashion and film. Paris is a constant inspiration to me creatively.
How would you describe the Australian fashion scene before you left?
Australian fashion, before I left, was mainly swimwear and diluted versions of what was being pushed in Europe. Now, after over 20 years, I feel it has evolved enormously with designers articulating individual expression and developing their production talents on the same stage as their global contemporaries.
Against the backdrop of 90s minimalism, your maximal/vintage aesthetic must’ve stood out. Did you ever ‘tone down’ your look to fit in with the trends?
I appreciated the minimalism of the 90s but that was never my personal aesthetic.
You’re somewhat famous for riding your bicycle around Paris in five-inch heels. What is it about high heels that you love so?
In heels you are closer to the heavens.
What was your first ‘big break’ as a stylist?
You consult and style for numerous fashion houses. In terms of creative collaboration, who’s been your favourite designer to work with?
Among others, Karl Lagerfeld was the ultimate to work with. His wit, storytelling and intelligence was always inspiring. A living encyclopaedia.
Any tips for navigating Paris’ cobblestones in stilettos?
I try to avoid but if one must, one should try to stay agile and glide rather than walk.
Social media has a huge impact on the way fashion brands market and sell themselves now – and even on the sorts of clothes they produce. What do you think are the positives and negatives of Instagram for fashion today?
Social media has impacted advertising on every level. It is more immediate and democratic, yet disposable and less precise.
What’s the one thing you would never wear?
Never say never, but I never wear flats.
When Australian friends visit you in Paris, where are your three favourite places to take them?
Who, or what, is exciting you right now in fashion?
Riccardo Tisci at Burberry, Kim Jones at Dior Homme, and Valentino. As well as diversity, and colour.
You can find Catherine on Instagram at @catherinebaba.
Shot on location at Mrs Banks Hotel