Q and A with high energy Melbourne stylist Freya Myles about her work and the fashion industry.
How would you describe what you do?
How did you make your start in styling?
The few who helped turn a whim into reality are Dean Hewitt and JC Lloyd-Southwell d’Anvers from Madam Virtue & Co and photographer/creative director Olivia Seally. All three encouraged me and generously shared their knowledge and connections; and we collaborated based on our mutual need for visual expression.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?
Best advice you’ve ever been given? (Related to styling or just in general)
From my dad – “there’s no such thing as problems, only solutions”. You can literally apply it to every situation; it’s changed the way I look at clothing and styling, people and relationships, even heavy things like death or the state of the world. There is always something you can do make it better, to learn, to contribute, to look at it from another angle. Sometimes the solution is just to move on, and that’s ok too. Either way don’t spend too much time dwelling on what’s wrong, focus on how to solve it.
Ugh Sophie’s Choice! I can’t, I could never…
Highlight of your styling career so far?
Jamaica – complete creative freedom, working with talented people, while being in paradise… does it get better?
Is a formal education in styling important?
Not at all- you can learn technique but not style, style is innate.
Can you describe your style in three words?
Excessive, expressive & progressive!
Your advice for any aspiring stylists?
Be open to creativity, experience and people – opportunities will follow… also rejection is a bitch, but like all powerful women it will change you for the better!
Best piece of style advice?
Do it your way, rules kill creativity!
What’s next for you?
I want to add to the awareness of our industry – fashion is meant to be fun, but people need to start understanding and placing value in how sustainable and ethical their clothing is. Obviously fast fashion has a lot to answer for here; the piece may cost an individual less, but it costs the world more.
It’s our responsibility as a society to start demanding to know that the piece was made by someone who has elected to work, who is an adult, who is being paid a fair wage, who is being treated with respect and working in a safe environment.
We need to understand the journey of a garment and the environmental impact each piece has – from the farming, to the materials and manufacturing process, to how it travels to the stores, how items are disposed of, how many wears each piece gets… the list goes on. A lot of people don’t look at a shirt and think about what kind of pesticides were used when the cotton was being grown, or understand that manmade materials such as faux fur and polyester come from petroleum, or that it takes 1800 gallons of water to just make one pair of jeans or that textile dyes are changing the colours of rivers. How many times do you think about the distance it takes for a garment to travel to you? Or how much ends up in landfill?… the answers are staggering.
Our sense of value has been corrupted by consumerism – people think they need a new outfit for every new Instagram post and Saturday night; but if you are really creative, you can use the same piece over and over with new results – or if it’s a really good look, wear it again! You’re not Jackie fucking Kennedy!
The fashion industry is the dirtiest industry in the world after oil, yet people conveniently ignore all these things when it comes to saving a few dollars. I would like to see laws passed that require brands to have an independent assessment of the humanitarian and environmental impact of each piece – and I think those who fail to comply with fair standards should be named and fined. The money could be used to help heal some of the damage the industry has already done, or used for research on better ways to do things. For now, websites such as Well Made Clothes and the release of the Ethical Fashion Guide are making it easier for those who have taste and a consciousness to shop.
There’s also so much that needs to catch up within the modelling industry – the overwhelmingly thin, pubescent, white washed campaigns and runways are causing deep, destructive results in our society. Why is it that people only seem comfortable with beauty in one of its forms? And how does that impact the way we interact with each other and ourselves? Why do we fear age rather than celebrate what it brings with it? Why is one colour better than all? Why do we just design for one shape? And why is gender so structured? We need to collectively push for progress here because fashion is about communication, and we can’t only give one group a voice.
I want to work with companies and people who acknowledge these issues and are actively and creatively working to solve these problems – because there are solutions, we just need to work on them.
Photos and Interview: Dimitra Koriozos