Natasha talks to Jane de Teliga, megastar celebrity stylist and style editor.
In a long and successful career Jane de Teliga’s stellar celebrity client list includes Nicole Kidman, Twiggy, Nigella Lawson, the Duchess of York, and even Trinny and Susannah.
Jane’s CV as a fashion stylist, style director, and writer for newspapers and magazines such as Good Housekeeping (UK) and Harpers Bazaar (Australia) is impressive and enviable in equal measure, and she has also just edited Dannii Minogue’s new book Dannii: My Style. By Natasha Claydon
What did you do this morning?
I woke up early and listened to my Yoga Nidra tape. It’s a kind of guided meditation, which I do to relax. And then I was compelled to play this stupid little game on my iPhone. It’s called Line Up. I’m addicted. I skyped my two gorgeous girls who are both in their 20’s and live in Australia. Then I checked my email and got stuck in to work. I’m mostly writing at the moment. I’ve finished editing Dannii Minogue’s new style book which is now out in bookstores. I’ve just got a publishing deal (I think I have to keep the details secret) for a book I’m writing.
Who inspires you?
In life, the Dalai Lama is the one that inspires me because I’m very drawn to his very peaceful philosophy. It’s the only cogent religious or philosophical basis on which to live.
In style, I know it’s a bit of a stereotype, but Audrey Hepburn because she was incredibly stylish and she had very good values. In the later years of her life she gave a lot to UNICEF. I admire her for that.
In fashion, the legendary American fashion editor Diana Vreeland, because of her great eye and her fearless originality.
How would you describe your earlier career?
- I started off as an Art Curator in the State Gallery in Sydney and went on to curating fashion exhibitions. Then I was offered the job of Fashion Editor on one of Australia’s longest running newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald. I went on to work as Style Director for the biggest women’s magazine in Australia, The Australia Women’s Weekly, and that’s when I started styling a lot of celebrities. Everybody from Prime Ministers to Olympians to Academy Award Winners.
What has been your defining moment?
When I was little my grandmother took me to a milliner and bought me the most perfect Panama hat with silk flowers. I can still remember it. It was made of the finest panama straw with the softest silk organza flowers around the crown. They were in light pinks and beiges. It was just so chic and so pretty at the same time. I’m sure it was really expensive. I blame it for giving me a lifelong passion for the finer things in life!
What makes this all worthwhile for you?
The great feeling when you’re doing a fashion shoot- of working as a team. Starting off with an idea in your head and then realizing it on page.
My most recent big shoot was in Australia doing a cover and feature story for tenth anniversary of Pink Ribbon magazine with celebrity model Megan Gale. I worked with a brilliant photographer friend of mine, Juli Balla and I came up with the concept of Elizabeth Taylor in the 60s Richard Burton years. Lots of stunning jewels and pink flowers in big hairdos, the shots looked sensational.
I also love creating a vision for ‘real people’. I did another shoot for Pink with another lovely woman photographer Prue Ruscoe. The shoot was of three breast cancer survivors. They were three very different women of three very different ages and they looked beautiful. It was incredibly satisfying.
How do you convince your megastar clients to try something that may be out of their comfort zone?
You have to let them talk about what they like. And listen. And then you have to give your opinion. I’m not known for being shy of giving my opinion. I always say I like to praise the good and ignore the bad. The child rearing dictum!
For some women fashion can be intimidating. I tell them that fashion can really be fun. We’re so lucky as women. We get to invent ourselves every time we wake up.
If you are really well prepared, people really appreciate it. Working with people like Nicole Kidman was easy because I was well prepared. Young stylists often don’t understand this. It’s not enough just to have a few samples (ignoring the real size of the person) or even hundreds of pieces. If you don’t have just the right thing you don’t have a good shoot, particularly for a cover. Before I do a shoot I often try everything on. My assistants think it’s hilarious. But it really is useful for working out what things are likely to work and what’s not going to work.
(Jane promises me that she didn’t try any of Nicole Kidman’s outfits on. She says it’s a size thing. I imagine myself in one of Nicole’s outfits. Who am I kidding!)
What's your favourite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
A jacket. For a ‘women of a certain age’, the jacket is the thing that finishes your look and makes you look polished.
In the summer it’s my black cotton Commes Des Garcons jacket with gold buttons and in the winter I love my black cashmere jacket from Max Mara. I love to highlight the black with orange, violet or fuchsia. The trouble is I am compelled to mix my lipstick to match. It often involves 3 layers of colour. I have to mix the right shade or I can’t leave the house!
Do you have a hidden talent?
I can put my foot on top of my head. I’m very flexible from years of doing yoga. I’m told I look years younger than I am and I think I owe that to genes and a lot of yoga. My yoga teacher Lisa Sanfilippo calls it the yoga discount.
(Jane does look a lot of years younger than she is. I’m put to shame. I try this exercise on the living room floor. The agony is unspeakable. I give up and I decide to leave this to Jane)
Jane de Teliga runs Style On Call with Elizabeth Barnett Lawton.
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