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Fashion, Grounded: Jolyon Mason

Stylists tend to get a bad wrap, and the more successful they get, the more difficult they are rumoured to be to deal with. Hence, we were more than a little apprehensive to meet the man who’s making Sydney seem so fashion forward. Jolyon Mason is responsible for stunning editorial in magazines including Russh, Oyster, i-D, Vogue Australia, and GQ. He’s styled campaigns for Levis and MYER, and counts The Pussycat Dolls, The Veronicas, and Jennifer Hawkins amongst his celebrity clientele. He’s worked on spectacular runway shows for labels such as Romance Was Born, Nicola Finetti, and Ginger & Smart, not to mention large scale events like the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Yep. Apprehensive indeed.

We sit down, nervously shuffle papers, and accidently blurt out the last question we would have wanted to ask him first. What would your advice be to young stylists that are starting out? “Just. Be. Nice,” he says, smiling. That’s it? That’s all? No take-a-good-hard-look-at-yourself-and-decide-whether-you’re-cut-out-for-this? “Nope. Just be nice. That’s all.” We breathe a sigh of relief, order a coffee, and chat with the man who’s truly one of the nicest stylists in Sydney.

Jolyon’s career had humble beginnings. As he got to know the stylists coming in and out of the Crown Street boutique that he worked in, he began to think that he had what it took to turn his sartorial flair into something profitable. “I always kind of played around with styling when I was seventeen, but I didn’t really know what it was. We did dress-ups with friends, and we’d take photos,” he says, but it wasn’t until he applied for a position as an assistant to stylist Vanessa Coyle (of Harper’s Bazaar UK fame) that Jolyon really worked out what he wanted to do. With patience, an eye for detail and an awareness of world trends, Jolyon quickly established himself as a precious commodity in Sydney’s fashion industry. Despite having worked for, and with, members of the higher echelons of fashion, he remains grounded. Speak to anyone who’s worked with him and they’ll tell you the same thing.

Okay. At this point, it’s clear that Jolyon’s not going to deliver any crushing Anna Wintour quips or grand Karl Lagerfeld ‘bulimia-is-better’ style quotes, but we’re not too torn up about it. It’s refreshing to meet a stylist who doesn’t treat the world like his assistant. We tell him that we loved his most recent editorial in Oyster, which he counts as one of the “fun moments” in his career. It was a project that had been in the pipelines for two years, and he got to work with his close friend, photographer Liz Ham. “It was an offshoot of a previous shoot of ours, Teddy Boys, and they were all inspired by Kate Russell and her documentary work,” he tells us.

While we’re sure that there are plenty of fun moments in a stylist’s career, we ask what the best bits have been. “Getting to travel around the world,” he explains, and adds, “I’ve been everywhere from Beijing to New York to New Zealand! One of the main highlights, though, would be when I first started out. I had the cover of Big magazine in New York, which was pretty exciting. It was like an Australia preview and they were showcasing Australian talent.” As for the day-to-day work, he tells us that while advertising campaigns pay the bills, and while he does “love a good editorial” shoot, it’s surviving a runway show that truly tests both nerve and talent. “Shows are always out of control, and it’s amazing. I love a bit of pressure – it keeps me on my toes,” he says, but warns that the worst things happen at the best shows. He gives an example that he considers “pretty gross,” and we consider ‘unpublishable’. Those disastrous pre-show moments haven’t always been out of Jolyon’s control though; in fact, he has caused some of them. “I remember last year at Romance Was Born, probably about an hour before the show started, I decided that I hated about ten pairs of the customized shoes. I was sitting there with a hot glue gun, re-doing all of them,” he says and rolls his eyes dramatically. “That wasn’t fun.”

Taking creative license with his employers’ initial concept is something Jolyon takes pride in. Right now, he’s working with a creative team on a campaign for Zu shoes, and admits, “it’s amazing to see the evolution of an original idea.” He’s always seeking new sources of inspiration from film, music and art, and tells us that his mind never rests. The stylist admits that without heading overseas, it can be difficult to let his creativity as a stylist really take flight. “It’s really hard in Australia in terms of creative talent being able to show their work without being hindered… there’s just not that much independent publishing going on.” With his obvious excitement for future moments of unbridled creativity, we’re excited to see what Jolyon will bring to Sydney’s fashion scene in times ahead. He tells Side Street, Sydney that his next campaign is a nod to futurism and the era he grew up in. “It’s uber eighties, and a little bit futuristic. It should be really good,” he explains, but he can’t tell us any more. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Jolyon Mason

words: Zac Bayly


February 13, 2011 at 12:21 PM sam @ Bento said...

*sigh* - we just adore Jolyon's work. How thrilling to hear he's so approachable too! :)

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