Styled for @_mimco. Photo by @scottnewett.
Stylist, model, and LVBX Magazine contributing editor Mel Brady talks her styling career; where it all began, how she makes it all happen, and what’s to come.
What is your background, and how did you begin your work as a stylist? I grew up in a very remote environment, the mountains of Tasmania. We left when I was 12 years old, and then I went to high school in a larger town.
To be honest, I really didn’t like much about school. I lived in my head a lot. I think my insular childhood enabled my creativity.
I left high school at 15 and started working in retail and waitressed. I modeled a little too, though it was as small town and not much opportunity existed. I left at 18 to move to a much bigger city interstate and tried to model, though I really didn’t have the confidence to do that. I worked in fashion, window dressed, and then helped friends with a range for a few years traveling around Australia selling it.
In 1983, at 21, I was asked by a photographer friend if I would like to be his stylist. He had just returned from Europe where the role was just emerging. My skill set was really aligned with the role, so I worked with him for several years learning about producing, casting, and styling; mostly fashion in those days.
Over the years, I’ve become more interested in product, homewares, and lifestyle shoots.
Photo by @petermack1.
How would you describe your personal style, and how does it translate into your overall aesthetic? Well, I really admire people who have a very clear personal aesthetic. Me? I have always loved channelling how I feel on the day; I can be a cowboy one day, and an Indian the next.
Some days, it’s jeans and a white t-shirt with trainers, other days I’m all vintage and girly, and the next day is all black. Most days, I will dress for myself but if I’m meeting a new client sometimes I will dress for them to make them feel comfortable that I understand their aesthetic.
What is a typical workday like for you? There really isn’t a typical work day for me, every day is different. Now that I model and write as well, life is a mixed bag of nuts for me. I love styling from the micro to the macro.
Other days, If I’m not busy styling, I might be in the hair and makeup chair getting ready to strip down to my undies to model, or I might be organizing a test shoot for myself to get my PR shots to use with stories I write.
Then, of course, the new string to my bow – writing itself. I might park myself at my desk and let my fingers move across the keyboards; like today.
I also photograph cats for a shelter in the country, so when I have a truly free day, I love to drive up there and forget about it all and just concentrate on making the kittles look fabulous for the shelter’s website. Adoptions are up since I started 6 months ago. I’m very proud of that.
What kinds of styling work are you involved with, and how does each one dictate different parts of your overall skills? Yes, absolutely! As I mentioned, each day is different for me.
I could be hunched over a tiny set styling jewelry or makeup, other days I could be directing a team to affix Christmas lights to an entire house – or running around looking at amazing location homes to shoot my client’s products in.
If I’m styling a big furniture job, I might have a ton of pre-production to do; such as sourcing propping, choosing paints, and building sets. Other days, I might be sourcing wardrobe, so I’ll spend all day on the phone liasing with talent about their sizing and then source millions of garment options to ensure I have enough on the day.
Styled for @_mimco. Photo by @scottnewett.
What do you find the most pleasing about the work you do? Oh goodness, I’m not sure how to answer this. You know, freelance work is not for everyone. It can be difficult, sometimes it can be so quiet you’re not sure if you’ll ever work again. Other times, it can be so busy it’d be great to be able to clone yourself.
But really, what I love is being collaborative and creative. There is no “I” in team. I can’t style without working with a horde of other like-minded souls. So, I would have to say working with like-minded people is extremely pleasing.
Are there any new collaborations you’re especially excited about? Early this year, I worked together with a bedroom furniture client to use their furniture in beautiful display homes in a more lived-in manner. It was just fabulous to work with their interior designer.
It’s not often I get to work with another person like that. So, we had a great time discussing interior style and really bringing the three bedrooms we styled into a very lived-in realm.
How do you want to see your work as a stylist unfold over the next year? Any big plans in the works? To date, my styling has been about advertising product and things, so this year I’m excited to start talking to people about being “their” stylist, on a much more personal level.
I’d also love to collaborate with a dear friend on a homewares range. Oh, so many things to do – stay tuned!
Featured Image: Styled for @_mimco. Photo by @scottnewett. Sculptures by @melanieup.