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In It Purely for the Love: Maia Liakos

As someone who’s got the art of layering, accessorising and composing down to a tee, stylist Maia Liakos is certainly not who you think she’s going to be when you first meet her. Her love for beautiful clothes and impeccable imagery is about as unassuming as it gets, especially in an industry that is at times dominated more by glory than by sheer passion and talent. This is a lady who turns down invitations to launches because the scene doesn’t particularly interest her, and unlike her colleagues, she’s not constantly posing for the camera, and she’s certainly not kissing anyone’s ass. She prefers to look at the fashion world from the outside in, and we couldn’t love her any more for it.

One thing Maia doesn’t compromise is quality. Flip through the pages of any old Oyster and her work will be looking right back at you. A contributing fashion editor for the past three years, her styling has arguably inspired many an eye-candy fiend to pick up the magazine and find the spare change to pay for it at the counter. She’s also been published in Vogue, Karen, Yen, Madison, In Style, Sunday Life and Nico, to name a few. She has worked on countless advertising campaigns, and can namedrop the bigwigs such as Sony, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Samsung, Telstra, Foxtel, QANTAS and Nickelodeon if you pest her enough. So how does someone who works for some of the creative industry’s most influential publications and companies RESIST name dropping? Well, she didn’t grow up wanting to work in fashion. Maybe that’s a start.

“I grew up wanting to work in TV and film. I did acting for several years and then completed a degree in TV and animation, learning everything from 3D animation to editing films, recording sound and camera work,” she says.
“I then worked in the TV and film industry for a while in the camera, sound and art departments, and that’s where I started getting very curious about wardrobe.”

Grabbing the opportunity to explore this side of her passion by its pretty little sequined tail, Maia began assisting different stylists and after a few years she had steamed enough shirts and ran enough errands for other people to break through on her own. She scored her first break at the helm of the national Sunsilk campaign with Richard Bailey, and it ballooned from there. Bringing out inspiration from vintage movies and photography through her work, today Maia has been lucky enough to meet – and touch! – some of the world’s biggest celebrities.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with some unbelievably talented artists including P!nk, Jared Leto, Eric Bana, Sam Neill and Leelee Sobieski,” she says.
“Every time I work with someone of their calibre I’m amazed at how down to earth they are and how much fun they are to collaborate with.”

Her curriculum vitae may read like a trail of billboards and newsagency receipts, but Maia affirms that at every stage of the game, building up her portfolio has been a steep without a plateau – and the climb isn’t over, yet.

“In the grand scheme of things I have a long way to go to build my name up on an international level, but it’s a process and I want to achieve it by working hard and producing great shoots,” she says.

Her nine to five – or rather, sometime in the AM to whenever – never pans out the same from one day to the next, which is exactly what keeps Maia interested. She lists getting to work across editorial shoots, advertising campaigns, TV commercials, and video clips with some of the country’s most amazing and talented people as the reason why her job just so happens to kicks ass, but concedes that, like many creative roles, there needs to be mutual understanding of job roles and cooperation for everything to go smoothly.

Maia urges aspiring stylists to “assist assist assist,” to really learn their craft and to understand the industry. As for Australian designers, well… don’t rip off, to put it simply, and local production may well be the best production.

“I feel some cheap and cheerful brands need to learn what being inspired by a design or a designer’s collection is rather than just blatantly copying a piece of clothing or a shoe,” she says. “It lacks creativity and too many people wear the same look because it’s financially accessible – and then these looks become even shorter lived.
“Plus, we should really be supporting Australian workers and our economy – and Asia’s sizing is very out of synch with Australia.”

As a consumer though, Maia loves Australian fashion, which she says is “climate focused and works for the weather and lifestyle.”

“I’m always buying pieces from Zimmermann, Fleur Wood, Sass & Bide and Karen Walker (NZ) and I think these labels plus so many others are really doing us proud here and overseas,” she says.
“As a stylist there are a lot of labels I admire and love to shoot, such as Romance Was Born, Ksubi, Jessie Hill and Easton Pearson. What they achieve in their collections is beautiful, individual and wearable.”

And Maia may well join the ranks of them, if she has her way.
“I wouldn’t mind having my own line of shoes one day – I have hundreds of pairs and am always wondering how I would improve a design or I’m sketching my own designs!” she says.

We can’t wait.

Maia Liakos

words: Seema Duggal


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