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.