When you mention the words ‘top stylist’, Kylie Cooke's name comes up. Her résumé is impressive, with films such as Born to Dance, The Last Saint and Fantail, along with television series including Top Model and X Factor, just a few of her major successes. Her other love is fashion, and as a stylist, her name graces some of New Zealand’s top glossy magazines. At home, Cooke is a creative collector, and as editor Trudi Brewer discovered her colourful, retro home, has a cool 60's vibe. Here’s a glimpse into her fashionable world.
What’s a typical working day for you?
It varies depending on the medium I’m working in, being a freelance stylist I work on anything from fashion editorials, advertising stills, television shows, commercials and a little personal styling. All my jobs start with creating a mood board of references, specific to each project, from there I begin calling designers and PR showrooms to make appointments for sourcing, or I hit the road on a shopping mission.
What do you love most about your career?
The freedom of being self-employed, and the variety of projects, I work on. And, I never have to be in the same place day in, day out. Also, the luxury that this lifestyle affords for me to have some downtime. However, with all things in life it’s a delicate balance, the thing you love can also be the thing you come to loathe.
How has your career influenced your style?
As I’ve grown into my career, it’s my style that influences my job. It’s very hard to separate your personal taste from your work because that taste plays a major part in the jobs I get.
How did you become a stylist?
I started out assisting and worked my way up the ladder. I learnt early on that a freelance existence is all about relationships – building, respecting and maintaining them is everything.
What's your career high?
A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with Chinese actress Maggie Cheung. The star of one of my favourite films by Director Wong Kar Wai ‘In the Mood for Love.’ It was the first film that my now husband, Brant and I went to see together, and for that reason, it has always held a special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful and powerful tale of relationships, love and heartache. Maggie was incredibly professional, kind and authentic, and I felt honoured to work with her.
How would your describe your home?
Our home is a mélange of tastes. Brant is a production designer, so through our work, we’re both constantly exposed to all aspects of design. Our home is a constant work in progress, bits and pieces often arriving and others leaving, it’s a reflection of our eclectic taste.
Colour and texture combining is your skill, share your best tip?
My advice, keep it simple and stick to the classics. Combinations of stripes and polka dots, are tried and true, therefore hard to get wrong.
What makes a great interior?
Personality. I connect with interiors that reflect the inhabitants and give you an insight as to who they are. I’m not a fan of cookie cutter, bland or safe interiors.
What do you always have on your bedside table?
A pile of novels and magazines – in varying stages of being read or about to be, a tube of hand cream, and my pussycat night light.
What are your most treasured possessions?
My husband Brant and our cat Mary-Kate are by far my most treasured.
Who is your fashion icon?
Iris Apfel is a long-standing icon of mine. She’s a powerhouse professionally and at the ripe old age of 94, she continues to be. Her personal style is in a league of its own. She embodies, confidence, taste, humility and has unadulterated individuality, all qualities I admire in a woman.
What is the one fashion item you will be buying this spring?
The same item I purchase every season, a jumpsuit. My long-term goal is to build a jumpsuit only wardrobe – I imagine it’s going to be a life’s work.
What is your fashion personality?
I’d say I’m a chameleon. My fashion choices change based on how I feel, and that too is always changing.
Who are your favourite local and international fashion designers?
Locally I’m a long time fan of Kate Sylvester, Karen Walker, Zambesi, Miss Crabb and the up and coming, Harman Grubisa and Eugenie. Internationally I’m mad for Gucci at the moment - who isn’t right? And Vivetta, Rosie Assoulin and I’ve long admired Dries Van Noten, Prada, Miu Miu, Marni and Ellery.
What handbag will you carry this summer?
I would love to have a Red Gucci ‘Lady Web’ across my body this summer.
What is your fashion weakness?
Shopping - both in store and online.
What does beauty mean to you?
For me the meaning of beauty lies in authenticity, living truthfully and being real. To me, true beauty comes from within.
What is your one beauty indulgence?
Bespoke Holistic Facials at The Tonic Room.
How to you stay balanced and happy?
Yoga and meditation. I’ve practised yoga on and off for most of my adult life; I reconnected to it late last year when my friend Rebecca Wadey hosted 30 Days of Yoga during the month of November. I began meditation during that course, and since then I’ve continued to enjoy the balance that regularly practising yoga and meditation gives me.
Photos Milana Radojcic