I love a fashion challenge and I have to say that every year, dressing for Melbourne Cup day is one of them. I have multiple professional commitments throughout the day so I need to ensure that I get my outfit just right. This year, I was lucky enough to once again work with Net-a-Porter to pull together my look which admittedly makes things so much easier. It’s one of my absolute favourite shopping destinations and they are always guaranteed to have multiple pieces for me to fall in love with. I had a busy few weeks leading up to Melbourne Cup so I enlisted the help of one of my favourite stylists, Jess Pecoraro to help me with pulling looks together for a few of the key dates in the Melbourne Cup Carnival, most especially Cup Day.
I knew I wanted to wear something bright and bold as I always like to have fun with my outfit at Melbourne Cup. After trying a few different dresses on, I eventually zeroed in on the floral Miu Miu dress I wore today. I liked the long hemline which is a little different to my other Cup Day looks over the past few years. We were playing around with the dress and actually found that we could adjust the straps to create an off-the-shoulder/bateau neckline so I ended up going with it as it had a really flattering effect.
There were a few heels we were tossing up between that were already in my closet but how could I resist wearing a pair of amazing Salvatore Ferragamo wedges? It had such an interesting shape I thought it added a great element of interest to my overall look. I also liked the gold heel and the strap across the foot echoing the look of a mule. It really grounded the colourful nature of the dress and its bold print.
As for my accessories, we tried a few different bag options and considered working with a few different headpiece styles and colours but I really loved the way my bag and oversized picked up a few of the subtle colours in my dress.
After we had decided on some looks, I did a final fitting in my home with Jess (with my kids providing a great audience!) to ensure that everything worked together — dress, shoes, bag, the lot. I always like doing this as I want to take a final look at what I’m wearing as a whole and make sure there’s cohesion and everything is spot on. And lucky for me, I found a look I loved for yet another year.
One of my super cute style advisors
I adored the vivid and colourful vibe of this dress
Aren’t they so amazing? Such a different silhouette
View from above
Jess helping me try on another dress option
Trying on shoes (and a sneak peek at one of my other looks)
Decisions, decisions…A girl can never have too many shoes, right?
Have you always wanted to know what it’s like to be a stylist? Jess Pecoraro has dressed the likes of Jesinta Franklin, Pia Miller, Carissa Wolford…and me! Having got her start as an intern at Cosmo before becoming the Fashion Editor of Women’s Fitness, Jess is now a freelance stylist in demand. Australian Fashion Week is one of the busiest weeks in the calendar for the Sydney-based stylist who is not only attending the shows but styling attendees and the show of a label about to debut at #MBFWA for the first time. I caught up with Jess before the craziness really hit to talk styling celebrities, the perks of working in fashion and the one thing she insists every girl should invest in.
How did you get into the industry?
I pretty much started straight from school. I was lucky enough to have a friend whose friend worked at Cosmo, so I started as an intern. I interned for probably two years, pretty much every day. My poor parents were like, “When are you actually gonna get a job?”
[I said] this is a job but it doesn’t pay. So I borrowed their car and didn’t have any money for food. So it was just like they were funding my job for a good two years. And then I was lucky enough [that] Cosmo created a role for me as a wardrobe coordinator, which pretty much is an intern but you get your [name on the] masthead. So from there I I worked across a few other titles at Bauer, and now I’ve been freelance for probably four years.
Was the end goal always to be a stylist?
Initially no. Being at school I just thought there’s nothing in fashion for me and I just didn’t realise a role like a stylist existed to be honest with you. So I thought okay, I’m going to go to university and study languages because I could speak Italian and wanted to live overseas. I went into my Orientation Day [at university] and just walked around and thought, this is not for me…So I took a gap year and with that I decided okay I need to do something in fashion.
What is it about fashion that you love?
I guess I was brought up in that environment. My mum’s a designer, so I’ve got a few years of me at age three walking around her showroom pretending that I was dressing an imaginary person saying ‘you shouldn’t wear this with that’ and so it started from a young age. It’s always been me, I guess.
What does Fashion Week entail for you?
Manic week! I guess it’s also the lead up that gets quite crazy. I feel like I am quite organised, but it’s always that waiting for something or waiting for someone and everything always seems to happen the day or two before the shows begin, so it’s a lot of prep. I’ll be styling a show this year as well as dressing girls attending shows, as well as attending shows myself.
Can you tell us a little about the show you’re styling?
Yes, of course. I’m styling the Pereira Fitzgerald show. They’re two young designers, so it’s their first year showing at Mercedes Benz [Fashion Week Australia], which is exciting. I’ve come on board because it’s very much my style. Clean lines, effortless and quite classic pieces that you could wear every day.
What does it entail when you’re styling a show?
From the start we sat down with the designers to go through all their mood boards and their designs. I’ve gone through each piece and said this is what I think, or maybe we should cut that out. We want a strong collection. And then [I did] castings.
So you cast all of it?
Yes. Everything from the models to the style, hair, makeup and shoes.
Where do you find your inspiration when you’re styling a show?
I guess from a mix of things. I’m very old school. I still buy magazines, so I think that’s my first point. We’re lucky enough now with Instagram, it’s a big, big inspo, and I can do that in bed at night. Also my surroundings. I like travel and [the Pereira Fitzgerald] show is inspired by the Italian lifestyle which fits perfectly with me.
You’re styling shows, you’re going to shows, you’re also dressing amazing celebrities. Can you give us a few hints of who you’ll be dressing?
I’ll be dressing [Victoria’s Secret model] Georgia Fowler only for one night. I’ll also have Jesinta Franklin who will be attending a few shows and Brooke Hogan, who’s a young influencer from Melbourne.
When you’re dressing someone like Jesinta Franklin how do you go about it?
At the beginning it’s always quite hard when you work with someone, because you’re trying to get their sense of style. I like to have all my girls look different but still have that touch of yes, she was styled by me. So I guess with Jesinta, we’ve worked together for everything so I know her style. We always go for classic pieces but I think with her attitude, she can rock anything, which changes that look. So if it is just a plain black suit with a pair of glasses, bag and shoes we can change that outfit.
Do you work closely with her in choosing the looks or do you just put together a wardrobe?
We work very closely together so I I fit her probably once a week. We also coordinate even for day-to-day outfits. She’ll send me a snap of what she’s thinking of wearing, and I’ll say yes, or maybe change the shoes or the bag. It’s quite nice to see how her style has changed ever since we’ve started working together,
What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing beautiful clothes and having a look at things that the public doesn’t get to see and also using stuff before it actually is released. I get so excited when I get a lookbook to pick from that no-one’s seen. And also meeting great people. I’m really fortunate to be around such really lovely people. People always say to me, “Is it a bit bitchy?” but I’m really lucky that I’ve got a good group of ladies around me.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Working on a mix of different things at the same time. So at the moment I’m working on a show, dressing people and I’ve got three shoots as well that have nothing to do with Fashion Week and lookbook styling. So I think its just getting your mind at different stages. Like this morning Georgia [Fowler]’s going to Cannes when she leaves [Australian Fashion Week] so I’m dressing her for that so it’s completely different styling— we’ve got gowns and jewellery. I’m like the courier driver and everything! I’ve got a good team of girls as well so that makes a difference. Having them on board just makes me stressed and when you know you can trust someone as well, so they can do those little jobs for you.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing at Fashion Week?
I feel like lots of clean, classic line. A few designers will definitely add some prints. I’m excited to see Hansen and Gretel, they’ve created something fun. So that very classic, tailored style, I’m sure we’ll see that. I was very excited to see Camilla and Marc’s show.
What is the number one key wardrobe piece that every woman should own?
A black blazer. And invest in a really good one— I always say that to my clients. Yes, it’s a big investment to buy a Saint Laurent or Balmain [blazer], but you’ll have them forever. I think that’s my number one. A white T-shirt, good denim, and probably just an easy dress that you can wear day or night, depending on your shoes.
What’s your number one styling tip when you’re dressing?
Don’t follow trends. As much as we obviously do want to be trend-driven and make a statement, you still have to have an overall classic aesthetic and then add little bits and pieces with your shoes and handbags. I think that’s a good way to add a trend in. And also dress for your shape. We see models [wearing something] and are like “that’s amazing” but if you’re petite and short then it doesn’t work. So it’s also dressing for your body shape.
Fashion Week Five
Shows I attended: Albus Lumen, Bianca Spender, Anna Quan Location: carriageworks Fave show: Albus Lumen Biggest trend I saw: Earthy tones, silky soft fabrics and shirting with a feminine twist, The highlight of the day: Sitting down with Jess Pecoraro chatting fashion, styling and celebrity dressing