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Styling Nostalgia: Kashi Mai Somers

Ed note: we normally don’t like to run too many Q&As, but this week we had to make an exception. You see, some of us have been a little busy launching Oyster’s new website, so the only thing we’ve really had the time to write is directions to the nearest chemist. Sorry.

Within the styling world, the range of aesthetics is vast, and each publication manifests its own with precise clarity. Somewhere in this beautiful abyss sits frankie magazine, and its corner of the visual landscape is clean, nostalgic and unassuming – a formula that tends to create just the right combination of longing and comfort. Aside from its fantastic written editorial, its fashion pages have their very own unique place in the industry, which is a desirable characteristic for any publication.
One such stylist who has worked across the mag and landed in its style section relatively recently is Kashi Mai Somers, whose vision appears to have been made for the mag – a sentiment which was all the more confirmed after we sat down with her for a little chat about her world.

Hi Kashi! This is mainly going to be about your styling work but I know you do a few things in the creative world. Tell me how you started out and how that progressed to what you do today?
Well I have always loved art and seems like a weird mix, but it lead me to marketing for a lot of big companies, which then lead me to feeling pretty unfulfilled creatively. I worked on a photo + interview book of people that inspired me as a way to feel better and met SO many amazing people as a result. Two of them were the beautiful girls from frankie Magazine, and after some discussion I started working for them in different capacities for a couple of years, styling included. I still do some fashion stuff for them now [I left actually working for the mag in November], plus what feels like a bazillion other things; publishing Kitiya Palaskas’ first book, business management for a few creative agencies, styling and photography, creative consulting…I find it hard to describe what I do. “Thinking of ideas, and doing them..?”

Do you enjoy having your hand in a few different creative outlets? How come?
I really do…it means there is always a lot going on, I can be involved and collaborate with lots of inspiring creative people, and I get to work for myself. I also like that I have to learn new things all the time; I sort of go into things saying, “yep I can do that”, and thinking “as soon as I work out how”.

Now, onto the styling! How, when and why did you get into it?
So as I mentioned I was already working for frankie, and they are just really supportive! I guess loving fashion helped, and being inside the magazine meant I knew their aesthetic. While I was with them I wasn’t really doing stuff for other mags, but was working with bands, musicians and for my friend’s labels etc too. I really like the idea of making a concept with a photographer become this other world; the collaboration and working with a team on a shoot is really nice too.

What are some of your design influences?
I’m really into a Shaman Gypsy thing at the moment, a ‘world music’ of clothes! Lots of colour, wraps, jewellery, head scarfs. Ironic really considering I literally wear 95% black! I also seem to be unable to move away from layering in my styling, but it has worked so far.

What publications have you worked for? (Mainly frankie?)
Mostly frankie yes. I’ve got submissions out to some other mags right now, and they’ll probably run in the next month or so. I’ve been doing styling for some musicians (ARIA’s etc) which is fun too – completely different just in that they actually have to wear the clothes for more than 10 minutes.

What is it about the frankie aesthetic that aligns with your own?
I loved frankie when the mag first came out because it was accessible, cleanly designed and it showed lots of Australian labels [as well as overseas] in pretty shoots. I probably err to the ‘very black’ side in terms of my fashion aesthetic, plus a few more high high heels, but the vintage additions are definitely a similarity.

For you, is styling mainly a fun side project or a profession?
Both. I really love it, and make money from it, but because I have other creative avenues as well, I don’t stress out too much if I’m not working on styling all the time. That said, I’ve been working on some styling most weeks for the past little while, and it is becoming more of my week to week life.

What are some common misconceptions about the fashion industry?
Hmmm…that everyone’s out getting drunk, high and schmoozing. I wouldn’t say that doesn’t happen at all, but the people I know who are most successful or dedicated in the industry are the people who are motivated by doing more and more, are relentless at it, spend most of their time at their studios or overseas getting inspiration.

What do you enjoy the most about what you do (all of it, styling included)?
I like the people I meet and the possibility of any idea becoming a reality. There is no limit really to the things you can do if you are willing to not worry [don’t get me wrong though, I’m the first one to be up at night wondering if the photos looked good or the project’s going to work etc), and if you’re willing to be inspired by other people doing amazing things.

What is the worst part?
Worrying! No, I’m kidding! Although, sometimes it’s the overwhelming feelings that get me. I go through times where I feel like I’m not doing enough, even though I know I’m probably over-committed.
That and taxes. Oh god accounting is horrible if you do more than one thing!

Who are your favourite Sydney designers?
I do really love Strummer and Handsom as emerging designers. TMOD are doing amazing things with interactive design; jewellery, stationery, installations, collaborations – they do A LOT. Because of the black thing, I like Friedrich Grey, Chronicles of Never, Alpha60 (melb) etc for me. Dion Lee cut aways!

What are your plans for the future?
I want to work on a label and a mag myself, keep consulting to different creative entities for ‘ideas and doing them’, and hopefully just get to keep creating with lots of different things & people. I’m going back to New York in a few months; dream life would be to live between there and here, publishing, styling, photographing, designing, producing, creating… all will be revealed I guess!

interview: Seema Duggal
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