Words by Stephanie Kapsimalis
The extraordinary Emma Read’s extensive industry experience on both the editorial and commercial sides of fashion, provide her with a well-balanced view of the fantasy and reality of getting dressed every day. Her experience and expertise have led to her being a sophisticated inspiration to many young creatives within the industry.
She is the passionate stylist behind wardrobe workshops, advertising campaigns and runway shows for some of fashion's biggest names, including Myer, Westfield, Topshop, Bonds and Virgin Australia’s Melbourne Fashion Festival. Additionally, her written work has contributed to features within L'Officiel Australia, Urban Outfitters and Myer Emporium.
Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to assist Emma at an ABRAND Jeans Photoshoot. She not only radiated an effortless style presence, but exuded warmth and absolute loveliness!
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Emma for The Fashion Institute’s INSIDER, here’s what she had to say!
Firstly, how did you begin your career in the industry and what made you want to become a freelance fashion stylist, writer and creative consultant?
I studied Journalism at Macleay College, which allowed me to dip my toe into media as we were actively encouraged to seek practical experience within the industry. I initially intended to pursue a career in music journalism specifically, but landed an internship at RUSSH Magazine and became privy to the role of a stylist behind the scenes - watching the Fashion Editors work their magic on conceptualising shoots and bringing them to life was such an inspiring experience. From there I was hooked.
What would you consider being one of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on to date?
Shooting overseas is always a highlight - I’ve worked on international projects in Paris and Los Angeles, and being that I love to travel in general these were particularly special.
Have you had to adapt to any specific changes to your career that you’ve experienced over this current pandemic, and also due to the industry itself slowing down?
Obviously with social distancing in place any face-to-face meetings and fittings were quickly replaced with Zoom, so in general my work has become more digital-centric. Brands and PR’s were mostly quite nimble in putting virtual showrooms in place, so it was still possible to continue with projects thankfully (just from afar!). I tried to utilise the time as best I could to take some personal time out, focusing on the business side of my work whilst shoots were quiet.
Do you have a specific process you undertake when trying to find the most appropriate looks and styles for each client? — do you gain inspiration from anything in particular?
I always start with a mood board, which either myself or the creative team I’m working with collectively will curate. Deciphering the look and feel I find makes the styling process much more streamlined, and allows me to effectively communicate where my head is at with a brief and where I’m envisioning the fashion to go ahead of the shoot, so the team is all on the same page. I’m a real sucker for a magazine and print in general, but there’s plenty online too that I’ll regularly dive into (Pinterest, blogs, etc).
What do you think are 5-10 wardrobe essentials everyone should invest in?
Jeans, a good-quality knit, a black or khaki blazer, a white shirt and tee, well-cut tuxedo pants, a sandal that works in the day and on the dance floor, a great pair of sunnies (to hide my perennial eye bags!) and a beautiful perfume.
Are there any style philosophies you live by?
Comfort is key. I think this parlays into how I interpret glamour really - I’ve always been more drawn to style inspirations that really embody their look, like a Charlotte Rampling or Bianca Jagger. They make the outfit, not the other way around. If something is uncomfortable or a hindrance to wear it always shows.
Who would you consider as a global fashion icon (past or present)? and who do you think has influenced your personal style/how would you describe your style?
This is like picking my favourite child! Anita Pallenberg, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot and Bianca Jagger I come back to time and time again. I’d say my style is seventies made modern - I like clean lines but with a nod to that era.
L-R: Anita Pallenberg, Bianca Jagger, Brigette Bardot
What advice do you have for someone new to the industry? And looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I think practical experience is key. There’s no better way to learn than being amongst creatives to really get a feel for the process, so ensuring you’re creating opportunities to be on set for example (if styling is of interest to you) is incredibly important. And no regrets! Your path is your path, you’ll always end up where you’re meant to be - don’t rush it. It’s a marathon not a sprint, as they say.
Are there any particular moments or milestones in your life that have made you proud of our far you’ve come within the Industry?
My first cover shoot was a very special moment - I think for any creative it’s so incredible to see your work on a cover in the newsstand.
Is there any place in particular, you see yourself being in, in the future? Any goals you wish to achieve?
I think collectively post Covid-19 the industry in general was due for a big restructure - the pace at which content and shoots were being churned out at was to me at a breaking point. If we can take a positive from this experience, I think doing more considered work in general is a more sustainable path for fashion - I find myself saying “less, but better” a lot these days. More beautiful editorial, more thought, more connecting and shooting with brands I love and respect, and hopefully more travel once we’re allowed.
L-R: Chloe Lecareux, Elyse Knowles, Harmony Bell
Emma Read’s industry insight and visionary foresight shared in this interview, cement her prolific reputation as not only an inspiration to young creatives, but an icon within the industry in her own right.