We first met Tessa through a mutual friend who thought she’d be perfect to model our pre-loved collections. She wasn’t wrong! Not only did Tessa look incredible in everything she put on, she styled the shoot and we were so refreshed by her down to earth nature, sense of humour and effervescent personality.
Tessa’s career in the fashion industry has spanned over two decades, she started out as a model and fashion buyer and now works for some major brands and influential celebrities as a stylist, producer and creative director. It was a pleasure to sit down with Tessa and pick her brain about how she built her career, what’s keeping her inspired and how to dress for the summer months ahead.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career trajectory to date?
Well, I’ve been in the fashion industry for 22 years now (showing my age!). I started out as a model before moving into fashion buying and then producing for several Australian brands, before eventually falling into styling after my first son was born (he’s now 11).
Was it challenging to build your freelance styling career in the beginning and get consistent jobs?
Surprisingly not. After having my first son, I ran into a producer friend, and she asked if I wanted to do some styling for a fashion campaign she was producing. Then it just grew from there. I was lucky to have established great relationships across several facets of the industry, so I already knew many of my clients before I started styling, which made it an easy transition.
What do you feel is the best advice for individuals who are interested in working professionally as a creative?
Take risks and be innovative. Build relationships, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Copying is not being creative. Follow your own path. Don’t be a trend, be a trendsetter!
How do you feel about the current landscape of the fashion industry?
It’s been exciting to see the industry evolve towards a greater awareness of overconsumption and the impact of fast fashion on the environment. It’s clear that individuals and brands that focus on a more sustainable approach are the future. Quality over quantity, always!
What’s inspiring you at the moment?
Great films, art, a good book and of course travel. I recently visited Spain with my partner and found so much inspiration in art and architecture. Antoni Gaudi's 'Casa Batllo' in Barcelona was a beautiful example of modernism. Gaudi found inspiration in naturalism and combined the complexity of architecture with that of nature. He was a creative genius! It is so nice to be able to travel again. I was only booking tickets to Melbourne last night to see Rone's exhibition at Flinders Street Station. He is always an incredibly inspiring artist. I am also currently watching Peaky Blinders, and I love the fashion in the later seasons. I think Tommy and Polly's characters have somewhat inspired my masculine dressing as of late.
Has the demise of print and the takeover of blog culture affected your career as a stylist?
Not at all. I still produce or style several print covers a year - for magazines like Women’s Health and Harpers Bazaar, but most of my work is campaigns or celebrity dressing. If anything, social media has only increased the demand for stylists since there’s such a need for content, whether that be for campaigns or personal branding.
What about the fashion industry still gets you really excited?
Innovative, sustainably minded brands rooted in conscious creative design. Wearing a beautiful item of clothing can make you feel like you are wearing a piece of art. I feel that way about my Loewe glove print dress or my Bottega red web heels.
What are some of your must-have items for summer 2022?
Cut outs, statement trouser suits, halter neck tops, bras as tops and bright co-ord sets.
What are your favourite summertime accessories?
Sunglasses - I am obsessed with sunglasses. Dior, Prada and Bottega are my favourites. Celine Sandals, straw bags from Loewe or Prada. I'm also a lot more sun smart in my 40’s so I love a good stylish summer hat.
What are your must haves?
- A great pair of relaxed statement trousers in navy, white and black.
- A classic summer dress to take you from the beach to dinner. Matteau does this well. An oversized linen blazer (Jacquemus). A great white t-shirt (Scanlan or Bassike).
- Bralettes in all colours. Scanlan Theodore does a good crepe one.
- White shirts.
I have also selected some beautiful pre-loved pieces from The Harmonic that you can shop below:
- Crochet Knit Top - Venroy
- Crochet Knit Skirt - Venroy
- Brixton Dress - Camilla and Marc
- Playa Robe - Lucy Folk
- Lounge Shirt - Desmond & Dempsey
- Crochet Dress - Zulu & Zephyr
- Tiered Sundress - Matteau
Who do you think is leading the way in sustainable fashion in Australia?
Laura May and the team at Nagnata have always had a strong approach to sustainably minded design and the impact of manufacturing on the planet. The Matteau girls are committed to keeping most of their pieces Australian-made and are conscious of their environmental responsibility as a brand.
What does circular fashion mean to you?
Re-inventing the way we consume. Less consumption of fast fashion, buying new and wearing only once. Instead, purchase key pieces that can be worn several ways and several times over. Buy second-hand pieces instead of always purchasing new ones, continuing the production loop, which already has such a huge impact on our environment. In short, making thoughtful decisions when purchasing is key.
Have you ever sold your own clothing or bought pre-loved?
Yes, when I lived in Melbourne, I used to sell my clothes at the Camberwell markets. More recently, I've sold pieces on The Harmonic. I have also purchased second-hand clothing online and in consignment stores in New York (they have some amazing consignment stores there). I also love vintage shopping when in Sydney and Melbourne and finding one-off treasure's that no one else will be wearing.
Is there any particular item of clothing in your wardrobe that you could never part with?
Where do I start and end? At the moment, I'd say my Bottega red heels - I love a pop of colour, especially red, and they are also surprisingly super comfortable.
My Loewe bag - I bought this in Spain - it seemed fitting to buy a Spanish designer handbag while in Spain with my Spanish partner, haha! It will always remind me of our first trip to Spain together.
Also, my Agolde high waist jeans - they are the perfect colour, and I've had them for so long they feel so comfortable. They are my go-to jeans.
- Styling my first Harper’s Bazaar cover with the beautiful Asher Keddie
- Being asked to do a fashion edit for David Jones
- My Styling work being published in Ruush Magazine
- Meeting and working with some influential and incredibly talented individuals (I won't name drop ha ha )