When you’re sitting down with Lana Wilkinson, it’s hard to imagine that the humorous, down-to-earth and compassionate woman she is, spends most of her time in glitz and glamour of celebrity life. As one of Australia’s leading stylists, Lana has had an elaborate career, and we were lucky enough to spend an hour with her after her appearance at the Westfield Carindale AW Fashion Showcase. You can take it from us, not only does she have some killer fashion advice, but her perspective on life in the industry is truly refreshing. Check out our interview with Lana below!
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STYLE: What are some of your earliest memories of fashion and what inspired you to want to work in the industry?
LANA: I’ve always loved fashion, I was the girl that used to watch ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and watch Sarah Jessica Parker make her Velcro school dress into that pink outfit she ended up wearing in the finale. I would start to cut up my mum’s bridesmaid’s outfits and make little outfits for myself. For me, fashion was always the focal point and my mum was always well groomed and my father is actually a dry cleaner. In a weird way, I’ve always been around a clothing environment. I remember spending more time, instead of on the RMIT campus, in Bettina Liano spending all my money I was earning working for my dad. I did PR at Uni and got a job working for Foxtel and I remember very early I felt like I wanted to be in the green room dressing people. I ended up doing marketing then ended up in the Westfield marketing team, but I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now if I didn’t work for Westfield.
STYLE: We saw some amazing AW trends for this year, what trends are you most excited for?
LANA: Boss suiting - it’s a go-to and it’s a way to be really powerful. There’s a confidence that it brings organically. Often people say fashion isn’t a big deal, but it can really determine how your day goes. I’m not trying to say fashion is a science, but it is a direct link to how you feel.
STYLE: Are there any beauty trends you’re looking forward to trying this season?
LANA: Experimenting with colour! I’m loving that there’s pink and coral eye shadow around, whereas a year ago I would just be like, ‘browns and golds.’ I think skin’s a really big thing and now I look at my skin before anything else. It’s important to make sure you have the right primers and highlighters. Using makeup is an additional accessory.
STYLE: Besides a statement blazer, what other items do you think women should own in their wardrobe?
LANA: A good pair of jeans and a nice shirt is another key essential – you can belt a shirt or take your husband’s and wear it as a dress. I’m going to have to say having good accessories too. Have a great pair of shoes and if you’re going to buy a bag, make it a good one! Accessories are a good one for people who are overwhelmed to change their outfits, or can’t afford to, so find those pieces you can elevate with accessories – it’s a nice way to change it up.
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STYLE: If you could style anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
LANA: If I had to say right now, it probably would be Kylie or Kendall Jenner. I remember 3 or 4 years ago I put a picture up of the two of them and I said ‘say hi to the future of fashion’ and that is exactly where it’s gone. What I like about them is that they’re shapely women and I love how that speaks to other women. When I was growing up, Kate Moss was what we looked up to, and not eating was what you did. The 90’s were a bit awful, really. There’s a thing in the industry that needs to change; when someone is a size 10, which is normal, and our sample sizes are 8, there’s not as much available and there’s a problem with that. We should be embracing all body shapes. It’s an important conversation. I’d love to go back in time and play dress-ups with Cate Blanchet – she is forever timeless. If I could go further back, [I’d say] someone like Audrey Hepburn… she’s someone we still reference today.
STYLE: What fashion advice would you give to the everyday woman who is struggling to find her style?
LANA: Lean on the experts around you. One of the first things I do when consulting with someone is asking those key questions to determine what that person feels about themself. If you don’t like your arms let’s cover them. If you love your legs, let’s get them out! If you’re not sure how to navigate what works for you, look at photos of yourself. You can usually pick what looks good and what doesn’t. We’ve got so much inspiration with social media and blogs, so find that person that you look at and go ‘that’s the style I’m after.’ For me, it’s someone like Victoria Beckham.
STYLE: You travel around a lot doing amazing events like the Westfield AW 19 Fashion Showcase. We’d love to know what you love doing in Brisbane when you’re here.
LANA: I come to Brisbane quite a bit and we holiday down the coast in Broadbeach. I love that it’s relaxed and that there’s quite a cool café culture and so many iconic fashion locations here. I think that there is quite a shopping mecca here and usually during the course of the year, because I’m doing so much I don’t actually enjoy shopping, whereas I can tune out a bit when I’m here, it’s a little bit more chilled. I really enjoy coming to Queensland. It’s a happy place for me!
STYLE: The Autumn racing season is approaching. What trends would you like to see?
LANA: Lots of hair clips, colour, accessories and animal print! I think we will see lots of suiting too. I’m sure we will see lots of fedoras and felt hats, but I want to see lots of hair clips.
STYLE: What would people be surprised to know about your career?
LANA: That it [isn’t always] glamorous. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s about being intuitive with people – you need to be able to read a person. It’s really long hours and a lot of hard work. People would be surprised to know how undervalued the work is. You don’t just roll in then roll out, it’s so much work and there are so many costs and overheads [with events]. Things take time, [I worked] three years in my full-time job, and doing this on the side, and working as a freelancer slash ‘for free’ which was hard. I think that’s like any surface job and as a creative you’ve got to love it. What I learnt early on was to be a good person. Relate to people, don’t be unattainable and own the space that you’re in – run your own race.
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