With the Sydney fashion scene buzzing as spring-summer collections hit stores, Mercedes-Benz will bring the glamour of fashion to life in an activation that will see Westfield Shoppers join in the fun by staring in their own Mercedes-Benz photo shoot.
From Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 August, Mercedes-Benz will hit the streets in the heart of Sydney’s shopping district in search for the most inspiring street style. A pop-up photo studio located at the Pitt Street entrance of Westfield Sydney will offer shoppers the opportunity to star in their own photo shoot alongside a Mercedes-Benz SLK, following in the exquisite shoes of fashion icon Lara Stone. Make-up touch-ups will also be provided by cosmetic brand, Napoleon Perdis.
Shoppers who have their street style snapped with Mercedes-Benz will have an opportunity to win a fantastic fashion prize including a $1,000 retail voucher from boutique Australian designer Alice McCall, a $500 ghd styling pack featuring the new ghd air hairdryer and a Napoleon Perdis Personal Make-up Skills Workshop for six valued at $1,374.
The Mercedes-Benz Street Style activation is taking place at Westfield Sydney (Pitt Street entrance) from Tuesday 21 August to Saturday 25 August 2012, 11am to 3pm each day.
Check it out fashionistas!!
It sounds like a dream; styling some of the world’s biggest stars including Kirstie Alley for Dancing with the Stars, Kristin Chenoweth (Glee, Wicked The Musical, Broadway) for the final Oprah season and having Blake Lively wear your designs, but for Aussie fashion icon Sophia Banks-Coloma, it’s is all in a days’ work. With ten years of fashion experience in New York, L.A and Australia, Sophia is a formidable force in the fashion industry, with many labelling her the Aussie Rachel Zoe.
With international success as a highly established creative director, designer and stylist, and a wealth of acknowledgement in the industry; recognised by Forbes as one of its Top Ten Undiscovered Designers on the rise in 2009, and Harpers Bazaar Style leader two years running, it seems the world is her oyster.
Sophia’s fascination with fashion began at just 10 years of age when she enrolled in fashion drawing classes. Even after leaving school and moving to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sophia always knew her passion lay in fashion.
Sophia became co-owner of award-winning Hollywood hotspot Satine Boutique, styling celebrity clientele including Nicole Ritchie, Scarlett Johansson, Michelle Williams and Rachel McAdams to name a few. Sophia and business partner Jeannie Lee would also frequently provide internationally renowned stylist Rachel Zoe with their key fashion tips and trends.
Sophia’s style is influenced by her global travels and, with Sophia’s strong Australian roots, the Satine showroom regularly showcased Aussie designers including Sass and Bide, Fleur Wood and Camilla and Marc.
Sophia’s mantra is simple: “Buy what flatters you, not just what is trendy. If you are uncomfortable in it, don’t buy it; otherwise that is exactly how you will end up looking – uncomfortable.”
In 2008 Sophia, keen to put her skills as a designer to full effect, launched contemporary label Whitley Kros. The label has since established itself as a celebrity favourite, worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Kate Hudson, and featured on U.S reality TV show ‘The Hills’. Testament to Sophia’s eye for detail and the brand’s innovative designs, Sophia was a semi finalist in the Ecco Domani Fashion Award and her collection was selected as a Mercedes Benz highlighted fashion show – a huge accolade for a designer.
Sophia is currently involved in the costume design for a new film by Academy Award winning Director Barrie M.Osbourne (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Matrix and the new Great Gatsby) starring Amber Heard (Drive Angry 3D, Rum Diaries), Kellan Lutz (Twilight) and Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood). The film ‘Syrup’ is due to launch in Australia in 2012.
As with every successful person, Sophia has her own influences:
“I hugely admire Haider Ackermann and Riccardo Tisci for their great designs, Hubert Givenchy for creating the best dresses ever seen this century, and Coco Chanel for being such a rebel! In terms of style icons, I love Cate Blanchett for her elegant beauty and Charlotte Gainsburg for her effortless style. It could be said that all of the above have acted as a collective muse for my various fashion projects!”
With luxury fashion houses including Dior, Chloe, Cartier, Roland Mouret and J Mendel already lined up to provide the wardrobe for her latest venture, it seems her admiration is reciprocated, with design houses clamouring over themselves to be a part of her projects.
What an amazing woman and a fortunate opportunity to delve into the world of one of the worlds best stylists.
This is the incredible Sophia Banks-Coloma…
Sophia on Work
What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?
I just finished the movie ‘Syrup’ in New York, designing all the wardrobe. It is an amazing project staring Amber Heard, Kellan Lutz, Shiloh Fernandez and Britanny Snow. It was a great project to work on – the director overheard me doing an interview for MTV and decided put me in the movie as the TV host interviewing one of the actors!
I am also working on dressing a number of celebrities for the red carpet and some image revamps for various new clients.
You are currently working on a movie starring Amber Heard, is this your first movie and what was your reaction when you found out?
Yes it was my first movie, and it was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. When I was pregnant I would watch the Devil Wears Prada and would think if I had the opportunity to work on a movie like that I would do it. A year later I was sitting with the director of ‘Syrup’ at the Chateau Marmont discussing the movie and he asked me to work on the costumes.
You’ve achieve incredible results for many of the brands you have worked for, landing them in major magazines around the world – how have you managed such success?
I never look around and say ‘gee I am so successful’, I am always striving for more and trying to do more things so I don’t really think about it. Right now I am thinking about two new film projects and a some fabulous new clients.
For 10 years you have been working with Hollywood’s A-List, who are the ones you really loved working with – or even loved to hate?
Kirstie Alley has been great, we started working together at the beginning of Dancing With The Stars show and it was great to see her weight transformation.
I loved Amber Heard on this latest movie, she is so beautiful, graceful and elegant – a real old Hollywood star, I am sure she will be getting an Oscar soon.
You travel a fair bit between the US and Australia, how do you manage?
I have travelling under control, especially with my daughter. We even ship our bags ahead…. We have a whole travel plan.
You are married to Marcus Coloma, who appears on hit shows like CSI and One Tree Hill, how long have you been married and how did you meet?
My brother’s friend, Nick Bosher (creator of beached whale) was staying with us in the USA and he went to an acting class and met my husband. They hit it off and decided to go for a run and he brought Marcus over – the rest was history.
Does Marcus ask for your fashion advice all the time?
All the time….. When he was filming Syrup in New York, he would call me and ask, ‘What am I wearing to this premier?’- I’d say the Black Jacket, Blue tee, and the Brown boots- I tell him what to wear all the time.
He says he can’t shop or get dressed without me.
How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?
I have to turn off my phone and on Sundays we have a family day. I’m also lucky to have a studio at my house, so I have Coco around me all day and she can come say hello whenever she wants.
My husband and I like it best if we are working together as then we get to spend lots of time together- otherwise we have date night.
My Mother/Father always told me…
My father and mother both always told me to there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do and that I could never really lose, by reaching for the stars. They showed me anything was possible, they live life, they take risks, they are adventurous and always changing …. That has given me the guts to do things most people would think are crazy and brought me here to this point now.
Sophia on Food
Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?
Chocolate and coffee. I live for these things. I can not get enough chocolate.
How often do you eat out and cook at home?
I am sad to say we don’t really cook at home, only occasionaly. We had someone cooking for us a little in Los Angeles, before we left so we could have family meals. But the last three months have been in New York…..I don’t know if anyone in that city actually owns a frying pan!
What is one of your best cooking tips?
Hmmmmm…… wear heels, so if your food tastes terrible you will look good.
Sophia on Fashion
Being a leading fashion stylist, working with names some people could only dream of working with, you need to look the part. What would you normally wear to feel comfortable, but also look fashionable showing your experience and authority?
I have to say that in New York I did have to learn to adjust my style, as wearing killer heels on set for 12 hours was not going to be easy. So for long days I wear wedges or platform sandles… YSL has a really comfortable pair of sandles.
I do always try and look good, I wear cropped trousers to be casual but always with some heels. I have to admit I suffer for fashion a little, I had to do a interview on the set for WWD and I had just bought a new Celine outfit- wool pants and shirt- but yes I still wore it in 100 degree heat.
I love hats, and will always wear one if my hair is not done- that’s my cheat.
Cropped pant trousers look so chic with a shirt tucked in and a great heel. Plus burgundy nails.
Which celebrity wardrobe do you think is spot on?
Amber Heard, Dianne Kruger and Cate Blanchett.
What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?
Right now my burgundy Celine Bag, my Birkin bag, a new Celine outfit and a navy lace dress by The Row.
Sophia on her Home
Who or what influences you most in home décor?
I design my house like my wardrobe which is good and bad. I love wallpaper so have lots of it . I also try and go a little more classic as I will have the urge to decorate my house yellow or burgundy for the color of the season and then want to change it about six months later.
Do you have one feature in your home you love most?
The front entrance has yellow wallapaper with birds on it and the dining room has black wallpaper, which I think it really mysterious.
Do you think rules in fashion also apply to the home?
Yes but on a different scale. There are fashion rules, such as certain things make you look larger. In houses certain things will make a room look smaller and clutered and others will make it feel larger and spacious.
Sophia on Lifestyle
Where did you grow up?
Where is your favourite place to relax in Australia and the US?
Anywhere in Australia- I love it. But mostly Sydney with my family and Palmbeach.
In the USA – Big Sur in northern California, Florida on the beaches and Palm desert at a spa.
What car(s) do you drive, best thing about the car and why you bought it?
Lexus Hybrid- I love big cars and I really wanted a Range Rover as that is my favorite car, but I bought the Lexus for the environment.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Where would your ultimate holiday destination be?
The Maldives. I’m actually going to be going soon and I am so excited it is to a new resort – I just have to find the time to go.
The one thing I can’t leave home without is…
My iphone, lip gloss and a great handbag.
If you could be a fly on the wall of any celebrity home, who’s wall would you like to sit on?
The royal family.
Three pet hates?
1. Airport Security
2. Dropped Phone Calls
3. Changer over time for the taxi in New York when it is raining – fashion disaster.
I was handed over the key to my black Audi Q5, with the disclaiming words… “Becareful, it’s fast.”
As I left the car park, I drove slowly out to the street, till I got to the lights. They turned green and the roads were clear. I floored it expecting nothing too exciting. Then BANG! after a 1 second delay (the car goes into neutral when you are stopped and apply the brake), the car shot like a gun, hitting 60 before I could even look down. My head was literally thrown back into the black leather headrest.
Ok… I should rewind back to the beginning. When I first saw the Audi Q5, I thought it was boring, drab and about as exciting to look at as the new Nissan Dualis. But then I saw one on the road which I hadn’t seen before. Black metallic paint, dark tinted windows, polished chrome trimmings, chrome side steps and enormous 22″ wheels. I did the double take. Then a squint of my eyes to see what it was – it was the Q5 to my suprise.
Off to Audi I went, with the expectation of being disappointed because the S5 Cabriolet disappointed me so much. But I test drove the Q5 and boy I was hooked.
So let’s fast forward back to where I was. This car has balls! Massive ones at that. For a 2.0 litre SUV, it has get up and go! The gearbox works away at ease, with the 7 speed steptronic transmission making gear changing, whether you’re in automatic or manual a silky ride. There are paddles behind the steering wheel if you choose not to change the gears at the centre console.
Bold, agile and charismatic. If this car were a person, it would be Daniel Craig as James Bond. Smooth and fast. Functional and easy. Fun but also sensible. Beautiful lines. A toned body. And a big wide…. grille.
But it just depends on the model you get and how you customise it. Most of the Q5′s I’ve seen on the road look terrible. They have small wheels, terrible colour combinations and are the basic model, which looks like some sort of basic model Honda.
To make this car stand out – it needs to have a little more cash thrown at it and customised to make it look rough and sexy.
Opening the door, the height is perfect for me to glide in and out of, but with the feeling of sitting a little bit over everyone else. The leather seats are comfortable for short and long periods of driving whether it be traffic or freeway. My arms always have a place to rest with the adjustable sliding middle armrest, which is the lid to the centre console.
Infront of the centre console is a little feature I quite admire – the cooling and heating cup holders. Unlike you’re regular cooling or heating cup holders which just have a vent from the airconditioning, these ones actually have a heating element, and a refrigeration system in them, which gets super hot, and really cold!
The gears are easy to change if you are keeping it in automatic, but if you change it to steptronic and change the gears manually, it can get confusing as you naturally expect pushing the gear towards the dashboard would go up a gear, infact it goes down.
I found this same issue being on the infotainment system built into the dashboard with the large LCD screen. When you are selecting anything from radio, to iPod, the air conditioning or the telephone, the knob works the opposite way. This could have something to do with the changing of driving side perhaps for Australian roads. You’d expect to turn things down by turning the knob to the left, infact, it also works the opposite way. The steering wheel controls are very simple and clear to use, although anything on the steering wheel is to be viewed on the small screen between the speedo and tacho. So I sometimes forget which screen to look at.
Using the iPod/iPhone docking station in the glove compartment is a little stressful – you simply plug it in, that’s the easy part.You then control your music from the main LCD screen on the dash. As much as I loved this feature, that’s the hard part. The standard sound system is phenomenal! But if you opt for the Bang & Olufsen premium system, you are in for a special treat. This is one monster sound system. When you hear your favourite songs, it’s like hearing them brand new all over again. Amazing.
The airconditioning is easy to use, once you get used to it. Instead of just pressing one button to change fan speed or temperature, you need to select what you’d like to change, then change with the knob. So there’s 2 steps to doing a simple task – making you take your eyes off the road.
Rear seating is a little cramped, but is sufficient for a vehicle of it’s size. There is a fold down armrest with pop out cup holders which actually work!
Braking in this car is excellent. It’s stops as quickly as it took to take off. Airbags everywhere, warning lights and chimes to tell you to put your seatbelt on, service the car, and do all the bits and pieces most other cars tell you to do.
Front and rear parking sensors (optional), great internal and external lighting and a strong push button electronic parking brake, this car has the features most of it’s dearer contenders carry.
On and off road
On road it’s smooth and carries itself well. In a straight line.
But in an emergency where you may need to do tricky maneuvering with the steering wheel – goodluck. It lacks response and the “you point it and it will go” feeling. Over steer and unbalanced traction when accelerating heavily makes it feel a little unstable.
Off road, it’s simply not high enough to clear rough terrain. The simple gravel driveways, corrugated dirt roads and paddocks will be tackled easily, but anything more, and it will struggle.
Likes: It’s very pleasing to look at, if you have spent extra to customise it. The heated/cooled cupholders. The sound system. The looks you get once you’ve spent that extra money to make it look amazing – you get that look from people who are puzzled, it looks amazing, but what is it?
It’s very fuel economical. It’s only a 2.0 litre and the tank goes on and on. The sound of the engine when revved.
Great visibility from all angles. Comfortable steering wheel.
Dislikes: To do simple things like change the radio, temperature, fan, choose music – it takes several steps and takes your eyes off the road too much. The over-steer/under-steer and strange under/over traction.
Would I buy it? Of course! I love it. Make sure you get it with the panoramic glass roof, huge wheels and a gorgeous colour combination, and you will have a couple of years looking at it and still appreciating it’s sexiness.
Price: My one was Audi Q5 2.0L TFSI Quattro which was $71,500 after addition of wheels and a few extras.
Final say: I’m an Audi convert. I’m also an SUV convert. Being a convertible guy, I’ve easily slipped into the SUV club and I like it. You get just as many envious looks as you would in a convertible.