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The Australian Style Queen Opens Up Her Fabulous Life

August 13th, 2011

 

 

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.

 

Fashion must-have’s?

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?

Australia.

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?

Handbags

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.

Faye De Lanty And Her Love Chile

April 6th, 2010

As a youngster, I grew up watching a few different shows like Heartbreak High, Hey Dad! and Home and Away. I also watched a show called Totally Wild, which started off the successful career of the very talented Faye De Lanty.

The gorgeous TV presenter and fashion designer with her own fashion label, Love Chile has captured the hearts of many Australians over the years, including mine. A kind, honest and spiritual person, her warmth pours out of her.

When I met with Faye to interview her, I was welcomed into her home, greeted at the door by her cute beagle, Soho. A glass of Puglia red, vegetables and lamb roasting in the oven, Faye and I relaxed on her exquisite Louis XV lounges and talked about everything that makes Faye, Faye…

What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?

I have my own clothing label called Love Chile (pronounced ‘Chyle’). I have been working on my 2nd collection. It’s inspired by Hindu Goddesses and it’s a range of accessories for clothes – detachable shoulder pads, double brooch chains, pieces for the hands and feet, as well as some gorgeous customised vintage pieces. Before I could finish the collection the first few pieces got snapped up for a show at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. I also just supplied all the accessories for the White Party parade at Sydney Super Club ‘Ivy’. It’s an Amazonian theme so I had a ball creating crazy feathered/chain pieces. I will be finishing the collection and taking part in an event during Sydney Fashion Week called the Fashion Forward Festival. I am also a freelance TV Presenter/Producer so I have lots of on camera/voice over work that always pops up. Plus I teach TV Presenting for NIDA and AFTRS.

Who or what influences you most in Fashion and home décor?

Fashion wise I LOVE the 70’s rock aesthetic… Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin had killer style back then, so did Mick Jagger. I also love the American Indian culture so my two favourite jewellery pieces are hand crafted silver/turquoise pieces from NYC. Designers that really resonate with me are people like Karl Lagerfeld, D Squared, Anna Sui, Zuhair Murard – these guys are storytellers – they are always pushing the envelope and doing something unique, always with exquisite attention to detail.

In my home I love quite a few styles so I like to mix them… my home has a real eclectic feel. I have a baroque vintage couch teamed with a glass top table from the 60’s. There are feathers everywhere (I am obsessed with feathers) I love colours. A white room with splashes of green or a bright yellow lacquered chair taking centre stage. Personality, warmth and richness.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

Accessory wise I think it would be a tie between my turquoise cuff I mentioned before and my caramel leather embossed handbag/satchel – it’s an original piece from 1973, long plaited leather strap – worn in leather and carvings of flowers and birds. I found it in an antique store in Brisbane for $30 about 10 years ago!

Clothing – I think it would have to be my black silk Butterfly tuxedo jacket. It was my Dad’s in the 70’s – it’s an original from the coolest store back then called ‘Granny Takes a Trip’ (there is now a remake of the store in Surry Hills). The jacket has coloured butterflies all over it. There were only two made – Keith Richards from the Stones has the other one!

Do you have one feature in your home you love most?

Oh so many things I love in my home… I have the most divine tree outside my balcony window – I have filled it with fairy lights – it looks beautiful at night, makes me feel like I am a fantasy forest somewhere. Nature aside – I have a beautiful pearl/oyster like vase from BIBA – the most unbelievable style destination in 60’s/70’s London. My Mumma was a BIBA girl and my Dad bought the vase for her – it takes pride of place on my mantelpiece in the lounge room – it’s filled with giant feathers.

Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?

I love lobster, goat’s cheese, beautifully cooked fish or lamb and I am a sucker for anything with caramel or white chocolate. Drinks – French Champagne for sure – Moët and Dom Pérignon would be my pick. Apparently when Benedictine Dom Pérignon discovered he could make champagne he called to the other monks “Come quick, it’s as if I’m drinking stars!!!” I also love a good vodka on the rocks with fresh lime… If I’m feeling extra fancy I’ll add a dash of soda water and chopped up fresh chillies from my little garden.

What is your greatest extravagance?

French Champagne, going out for a beautiful meal and I love to buy flowers and candles for myself.

Greatest lesson learnt?

You have to love and honour yourself before anyone else can!

What advice would you give someone if they were thinking of a career in your industry?

If it’s what truly makes your heart sing – go for it! Life is too short not to do what you love. Immerse yourself completely in it, become a sponge, learn and do all you can. Become a ‘junkie’ for your craft! Work hard, believe in yourself and know that you can do it. Then stop talking about it and go get your dream!

How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?

Transcendental Meditation. It saved my life! I was such a stress head, always thinking/worrying I didn’t have an ‘Off switch’! It came to me just at the right time and has opened up my world – I have more energy, clarity and an unlimited supply of creative thoughts and ideas for my label. It’s taught me to honour and love myself, be kind to myself but has also instilled an overwhelming need to give love and help people in my life or those I come into contact with. Check it out www.timbrownmeditation.com.au

Which celebrity wardrobe would you love to raid and why?

Definitely Robert Plant from Led Zep, Mick and Keith from the Stones. The Girls – Mary Kate Olsen and Rachel Zoe.

How did you get into doing what you do?

TV – I started when I was 15 on a show called ‘Totally Wild’. I actually jumped out of a plane for a story while I was on work experience – the GM of the station at the time said to me “Your that crazy b*tch that jumped out of the plane, I said if she’s that F’ing crazy, give her a F’ing job!” True story. Fashion I have wanted to start my own label for as long as I could remember, so 3 years ago I decided to do it.

What is your one design rule you like to stick to around the home?

Always fresh flowers in the lounge room and the bathroom, turn as many lights off at night as possible and use candles to illuminate your home and always do the washing up before you go to bed!

My Mother/Father always told me…

To be cool! (don’t ever get too big for your boots!)

Is there a cause that is close to you and if so, why?

The Butterfly Foundation www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au

My label is aligned with The Butterfly Foundation – a charity dedicated to supporting people suffering with eating disorders and negative self-image. I have been through low self-esteem and an eating disorder myself… my life journey was a big reason to create Love Chile. Love Chile is all about inspiring women through style to love and believe in themselves. We did a big fashion fundraiser together last year called the ‘Night of the Butterfly’. We plan to do lots more together this year too.

Where is your favourite place to relax in Sydney?

My house or Camp Cove at Watson’s Bay.

How often do you eat out and cook at home?

I probably eat out casually once a week. A really special dinner once or twice a month.

Signature dish?

I’m just getting into cooking so right now I’m keeping things pretty basic – I ‘m loving my oven baked lamb cutlets, sweet potato and pumpkin dusted with fresh herbs, cracked pepper and seasoning.

Your thoughts on Australian fashion in comparison to International fashion?

Look I think we have some fantastic labels – I’m a big fan of Sass & Bide, Toni Matichevski & Antipodium. But I feel like we could take more risks and tell more of a story… I love to see a show that is dripping with personality and detail or where the models actually look like they are happy and enjoying themselves like in a Sonya Rykiel show! She even got them to speak in her last one! Fashion can tend to take itself a little too seriously sometimes. I feel like International designers push it a little further.

The one thing I can’t leave home without is…

My lipgloss, eyedrops and a happy heart.

What frustrates you most about Sydney?

That it’s not New York!

If you were Clover Moore, what would be the first thing you’d inject money into fixing?

Dogs allowed in all restaurants – that request comes from my Beagle! From me – the roads… there are holes and bumps everywhere.

Favourite beach in Sydney and why?

Camp Cove at Watson’s Bay – this place is heaven. No matter how crappy a day you may be having – go there and everything is washed away – it’s magical.

If you could be a fly on the wall of any celebrity home, who’s wall would you like to sit on?

Robert Plant or maybe Lady Gaga to see what she wears to bed!

Three pet hates?

1. Smoking

2. Nastiness/negativity

3. People who drive up my street the wrong way.

Fashion and home must-have’s?

Fashion – a great tuxedo jacket, a cool rock tee, sexy jeans and a killer pair of heels.

Home – fresh flowers, candles and a clean space. Your home is your haven – it should be well looked after and reflect your style and personality throughout.

What is your one diva demand?

A special meditation room with Indian paintings, lotus flowers, Buddhist or Indian goddess statues, a small potted palm tree and incense, a soft pillow or designer blanket for my dog and vanilla scented candles everywhere! (Man I could definitely handle that!)