When fashion meets interiors: the Sophie Hart interview
Whether it’s fashion, interiors or events, stylist extraordinaire and successful businesswoman Sophie Hart says the same principals apply. “My approach is really similar, whether it be a person or a room, they both need to be dressed.”
Self-titled “queen of the moodboard,” Sophie, who owns Sophie Hart Styling, always begins in the same way. “I usually start off with a massive reference source. I can never have too many options. This is because my style ethos is very organic and so is my styling process. Before I shoot fashion, I usually have a style guide in mind, but I do like to work organically on the day, getting the feel for what is going on around me – the photographer, the client and their brief and importantly the person I am styling. Once I have a feel for all of the elements and am inspired in that moment, the perfect solution comes naturally.
“Interiors are a little different. They start off the same way with moodboards and pulling lots of looks, but this is done with specific product images so the client has an almost identical reference of what I will be creating. It’s almost impossible to turn up to an interiors job with six beds and 20 lamps for example, so images are a go-go!”
Sophie has done work for Sheridan and was styling consultant on the Qantas First lounges at Sydney and Melbourne Airports. She says: “I think it’s really important to reflect a sense of your personal style in your own interior and fashion choices. It’s a direct reflection of you. I think the best work is the work that doesn’t look like it’s taken work to get to the end result. Accidentally perfect, I call it!”
On completing a business management course after high school, Sophie had itchy feet so she moved to London. She worked in various roles within production and advertising and enjoyed anything fast-paced and varied. “It was my last job at an interior design agency which surprised and inspired me,” said Sophie. “It gave me me an insight into how to apply my creative and professional and business skills into a styling career.” Inspired, she moved back to Australia.
“I started buying props for TV commercials then a producer friend offered me a low budget wardrobe styling job on a TV commercial. This was so much fun! I was able to fuse my sense of style and creativity into something that had me on my feet all day – it all rolled on naturally from there. I was offered a column for Sydney Sun Herald’s fashion and entertainment supplement S Magazine, chronicling the latest trends in fashion, interiors and beauty as well as weekly sales and bargains. It was right up my alley.”
Almost a year ago, Sophie and husband Chris bought a two-storey Victorian terrace in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, which hadn’t been renovated since the seventies. “It’s currently ‘Spanish Hacienda inspired’. It’s just wrong but has so much potential!” They’re planning a major renovation. “I want the place to reflect my style, which is essentially really warm, modern organic and eco-friendly,” she says. “Think exposed bricks, polished concrete and recycled timbers, all rich and moody in tone and texture. Oh, and a massive walk-in wardrobe!”
While Sophie, who really admires stylist Megan Morton, thinks the profession has become more recognised as a ‘real’ job, many still misunderstand it as just being about shopping and placing furniture. “There’s so much more to take into consideration. It’s a real people job. You need to be able to deal with a huge range of personalities. You’re constantly pitching yourself and your skills in order to get more clients and keep the ones you have happy. You have to be super organised and know how to problem solve at the drop of a hat. It’s actually really different from what you’d expect.”
While there are many talented freelance stylists in Australia, Sophie runs Sydney’s only styling house, with a styling associate, several assistants, an in-house costume designer and make-up artist. “All my staff start off as interns, the good ones get asked to stay and then everyone works their way up the SHS ladder: intern, junior styling assistant, styling assistant, senior styling assistant, styling associate, is the order everyone goes through. This structure works for me as the girls are all trained in my design style ethos and it also means that we share the same work ethic.
“We do a lot of work and it can be really high pressure and the hours are demanding. Hard work, dedication and commitment sprinkled with a little bit of obsession are what you need to succeed. Personality is more important than experience or natural ability. At the end of the day, if it’s a 10-hour one, as they usually are, I want to be surrounded by good sound team players that get it. I’m always on the lookout for the next perfect SHS team member.”
The best part of the job? “I love the creating. Looking at something, be it a body shape or a room, the ideas coming into my mind and making something wonderful. I love being my own boss and I love my team, they’re the best.” And the worst? “Running your own business and the obsession of the profession can rule your every waking hour. I’m super lucky to be happily married and have the support of a grounded, sensible husband who keeps me on track.”
Location shot by Georges Antoni for Sheridan.