Sophia Banks-Coloma has been hailed as Australia\’s top fashion export and been labeled the Aussie Rachel Zoe. With international success as an highly established creative director, designer and stylist; recognised by Forbes as one of its Top Ten Undiscovered Designers on the rise in 2009, and Harpers Bazaar Style leader two years running, it seems the world is her oyster.
Her love with fashion began when she was just seven-years-old! She recalls:
“At about age 7 I used to buy Vogue Bambini and I forced my mum to buy an outfit for me from a French store in Killara. It was a purple skirt with matching purple and green polka dot socks and top. From then on I had to color coordinate everything I wore on the weekend!”
From there Sophia enrolled in fashion drawing classes, leading to roles such as design assistant for Marcs kids wear and assistant stylist for Vogue Bambini. Those then led to designer for boho chic fashion label, McGinn, and fashion editor for Shoplift magazine.
Her taste has since changed from when she was 10 though (yes, she was 10 when she first started to sketch!).
“At that age, everything I drew was magical, pink and outrageous. Princess ball gowns and fluffy skirts. Now, my taste has definitely matured and I love the sleek lines of designers like Celine and Stella McCartney.”
Since then, Sophia became co-owner of award-winning Hollywood hotspot Satine Boutique, styling celebrity clientele including Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. She would also often liaise with Racehl Zoe, offering her key fashion tips and trends! On Rachel, she said:
“She is definitely as great, fun and lively as she is on the show!”
In 2008 Sophia, keen to put her skills as a designer to full effect, launched contemporary label Whitley Kros. The label has since established itself as a celebrity favourite, worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Kate Hudson, and featured on U.S reality TV show â€˜The Hills\’. Testament to Sophia\’s eye for detail and the brand\’s innovative designs, Sophia was a semi finalist in the Ecco Domani Fashion Award and her collection was selected as a Mercedes Benz highlighted fashion show.
She is currently involved in the costume design for Syrup, (starring Amber Heard, Kellan Lutz and Shiloh Fernandez), which is due to launch in Australia in 2012.
Though she has styled for many celebrities, magazines and clients, her own favourite designer is the classic Coco Chanel because:
“& she was a rule breaker and changed fashion for women, even to this day. While I love trends and use them to provide influence for my work, I also love to go against them and make my clients stand out.”
Sophia\’s mantra is simple:
“Buy what flatters you, not just what is trendy. If you are uncomfortable in it, don\’t buy it; otherwise that is exactly how you will end up looking – uncomfortable.”
Sophia reckons the secret to good fashion sense is:
“Being willing to take risks but also wearing things that you feel great and comfortable. If you wear you outfit with confidence, you will never fall victim to fashion. Sometimes you just have to know when to skip a trend if it doesn\’t work for you.”
We also asked her what her favourite pieces from her wardrobe are, she shared:
“I have three outfits right now that I am absolutely in love with. The first is a navy lace long sleeve evening dress from The Row. The second, a shirt and pant combination from Celine. And finally a Stella McCartney burgundy suit. I also have burgundy pumps from Jimmy Choo and a burgundy bag from Celine â€“ I can\’t get enough of that color for this season!!”
And for the budding stylists and designers out there, Sophia recommends you:
- Be true to your own creative vision
- Be willing to work harder and be more dedicated than anyone else
- Have a great attitude no matter what situation you may be in
Sophia sums up her style influences:
“I regularly travel between L.A, New York and Sydney, looking for new designers to offer my clients. I\’m a big supporter of the Australian fashion industry â€“ there\’s so much talent out there that deserves global recognition. For me, Australia is still my home, and so I love taking Aussie designs back with me to the US.”Â
So there you have it, some really really useful style tips from a master and watch this space, Sophia’s first passion was acting and we may see her hosting her own show very soon!
Visit Sophia’s Whitley Kros website for more on her collections.
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