If you have been to Melbourne and not visited the GPO, I don’t think we can be friends. It is such a gorgeous centre with the most exquisite stores, you would actually have to be insane to go past it and in a time where retailers are failing for getting complacent, the GPO is constantly changing and exciting shoppers. Until the end of August there was an art installation created by Amanda Henderson and her team at Gloss Creative entitled Spring Orchard. Encompassing a 30-foot vine with 2000 purpose designed scored fruit and greenery, this installation combines with the GPO’s Cabinet of Curiosity installation, which included hanging garments from the centres boutiques, to create one exciting spectacle. Sucked if you missed it.
The other exciting thing the GPO is doing is teaming up with styling extraordinary, Australian born and New York based, ex-editor of RUSSH magazine Stevie Dance! Her work is absolutely stunning and so very fashion forward, I’m ecstatic that an Australian centre is encouraging such brilliant work. As I said, so many stores and boutiques rely on the fact that Australia is hidden away from the world, so they get complacent. Not anymore. It’s initiatives like this that keep shoppers like me (who are usually bored) excited! Enjoy the interview.
Q: Out of all the things you have been approached to do, why say ‘Yes,’ to being Melbourne GPO’s Fashion Ambassasdor?
Stevie: You know what, I am really attracted to things where people revel in the skill sets of others. One thing MGPO have been amazing about is allowing my creative freedom which is just a dream come true. They literally invited me into their stores and said, “Go, do whatever you want.” All the retailers really opened their arms to me and literally said, “do what ever you want.” I think that that kind of support and trust in someones aesthetic is amazing and it makes you want to produce a great work for them and sign up, so thats why.
Q: Is that different to working for an editorial spread for a magazine where you have that limit or very clear guidelines to the aesthetic?
Stevie: Well I’m very picky with my projects and I mean largely, my work is determined more so than just getting a credit on a page and there will always be those times where you have to tick certain boxes, but that’s half the skills of an amazing stylist is trying to find life in something that they kind of have to.
Q: I’m sure you’re aware that Australian retail right now is struggling. Do you think that events like this and projects like the ones that MGPO are running are the way forward?
Stevie: You know what, I kind of think that Australian retail is in a really specific position but then again I think so of retail the world over. It’s people shopping from home. So by inviting and creating an atmosphere in a space and include people is a really exciting way to do it. I think the cool thing that the MGPO are doing is that they’re really investing in the lifestyle and not just the shopping and the immediate sale but what a dress can do for you and how that’s going to make you feel. It’s about you can appeal to your shoppers than just an immediate purchase and I think that there is longevity in that.
Matt: I think it’s also important for retailers, I mean if they are going to combat the fast march to online shopping they need to give the consumer a reason for stepping away from their computer and come in and have an amazing experience. For so long retailers have really just overlooked the experience of shoppping and giving customers amazing customer service on top of an amazing product. It’s a full journey. You’re coming out to the shops, you’re purchasing, your taking it home.
Stevie: It’s really special and the fact that MGPO wanted to create an in-house publication that shows how you can transform something you buy into how it works editorial.
Q: I’m interested in styling and Creative Direction, what would you say to people that want to be doing what you’re doing, because there are so many different avenues?
Stevie: There really are. Look I, I really hate it when people say this, but I fell into what I’m doing by a fluke. I was a writer, I just finished university where I studied cinematography and journalism, and I was handing an assignment in when someone screamed, “I need an assistant!” and that’s kind of how it began. I kind of put my hand up because I just needed a job. I was 18 and hungry. Personally, the only way to get out there is to practice what you preach. If you want to be styling, you should be shooting, you should be meeting photographers, you should be offering yourself to every kind of venture or internship or relationship where you can prosper from other creatives. The only way to get out there is to get out there and do exactly what you’re doing and invest in a kind of platform for yourself.
Q: There are so many stylists though!
Matt: There are alot of bad stylists! (laughs)
Q: What makes you guys notice a stylist?
Matt: When I am looking at peoples work, I look for an idea and I look to see how that ideas executed. I look for a narrative because clothes tell a story, and more often than not, the stylist is the person who creates the idea behind the shoot and I look at how that’s executed. You know what, when I talk to stylist’s I love talking about fashion history. I’m really personally passionate about that and I like to know that a stylist knows where a garment comes from and not just, “oh, high waisted flares are back in. Celine has done high waisted flairs and now their in this season because they did a whole collection. I should shoot a whole editorial!” It’s like, it’s not Celine. Phoebie (Philo) must have got her inspiration from somewhere else. I also look for people who can reference fashion history and not just fashion history but history full stop – and ideas. I think at the end of the day, you’ve got the day or you don’t. It’s as simple as that, they can’t teach you styling in schools. They can teach you how one colour goes with another but it’s innate. You’re born with it.