Stephanie Downey, of Melbourne-based label Dress Up, has collaborated with photographer Natalie Nikitovic of blog Cross Bone Style. The pairing is really quite sweet, with each confessing to being a long-time admirer of the other's work. They composed a shoot that captures the natural beauty of friends in their beloved habitats, wearing their favourite Dress Up pieces. We chatted to both halves of the collaboration about creative evolution, their vision and each other.
Jerico Mandybur: What made you want to collaborate with Natalie?
Stephanie Downey: I've been admiring Natalie's work — and actually just Natalie in general — for a while. I really love how her work is not preoccupied with perfection, her photographs feel sort of lived in, her subjects are a little vulnerable.... I also love her sense of humour.
Why did you want to do this project?
The women who wear my clothes mean so much to me — it's really what keeps me going, and it reaffirms why I design each collection. The women we photographed are friends who have been wearing Dress Up from the beginning, wearing pieces they have actually bought from the AW12 collection
. I feel so grateful to them, and flattered, and inspired by their natural beauty. It makes so much sense to see clothes worn in their true context, by someone who has personally selected them; I love seeing my pieces reinterpreted by someone else.
Why is your label called Dress Up?
I am inspired by how an outfit can make us feel or act a certain way, and are planned and remembered accordingly. I find the concept of 'vanity' perpetually interesting and inspiring; it's an inherent human trait that exposes both our strength and vulnerability. Dressing up allows us to differentiate and express ourselves through clothing, to create something personal and unique every day; an outfit.
Jerico Mandybur: What's your background with photography?
Natalie Nikitovic: My background with photography is pretty short. I have been carrying around a camera for the last four years and I take photos of things I need to be reminded of so I don't forget. And I like to re-tell stories. I see my photos as proof of a story happening, that kind of thing.
What was your vision for this project?
For me it wasn't so much seeing a finalised vision, but really a need to just work together. I adore Steph's work. I have always crushed-out on her collections and the way she translates inspiration into design. This season had some strong references of demolition through to bringing back the turtleneck, which really motivated me to approach the idea of documenting girls wearing their favourite pieces in their favourite places. I would dare say this is my favourite collaboration thus far. Each girl that we profiled brought such a different story element and I feel they each represented what Steph does so well. I look forward to the next project we do together! In other words, stay tuned...
Why is your blog called Cross Bone Style?
I chose Cross Bone Style because I wanted to be Chan Marshall when I was thirteen. I remember the first time I watched the video clip for 'Cross Bones Style' many moons ago, I was with my then-boyfriend, we got up out of bed and taught ourselves the whole dance sequence. Years later I still know it. It's my nineth special skill.
Introduction: Melissa Kenny
Interview: Jerico Mandybur