How did you get started in the journalism industry? And how did you get to where you are today?
I actually started studying Law/Arts before I got into Journalism, but I realised that this wasn’t for me. So I went to America and studied journalism for a year and I just loved it. When I came back I applied for and got into the RMIT journalism course, and I did that for a semester and got a cadetship with Pacific magazines for about a year before applying for a job at [the Herald Sun], but there was nothing available. Shortly after I went to an event, and the editor of the Herald Sun was there so I introduced myself and organised a meeting with him. He told me there were no jobs at the moment but he would put my name on file. And so every week for six months I rang his office, in a really polite non-stalking way, and just said, ‘Can you please let Peter know that I’ve called and I’m still interested?’ One day he rang and offered me a job, and I started at the Herald Sun.
Have you always wanted to be a fashion writer?
No. And I have to confess that I’m not obsessed by fashion. I’m interested in fashion, but fashion for the Herald Sun is such a broad round, its not just about writing about trends or fashion. There’s a lot of celebrity, lifestyle and news as well. I think I sort of fell into [fashion] really. After I got married my husband was transferred to America, so I lived in New York for a couple of years and that’s where I first got a job in fashion. When I came back I got a job working on the Sunday paper here as the fashion and entertainment editor and that was 14 years ago.
How does the reality of working in Fashion compare to what we see in movies?
We always are sort of laughing and joking about how supposedly glamorous the fashion world is when it’s not glamorous at all! We just did a shoot for David Jones, with Jess Gomes, Shanina Shaik, Bridgette Malcolm and Jacinta Franklin and it was in Sydney and it was freezing, and they were there in their bathers, by the pool. So that was our so-called glamorous world of fashion. But, I mean, every job has its highs and lows, and yes there are lots of glamorous parts to it, and I feel really privileged to get to do what I do and to have a front row seat at fashion shows and to meet people involved in the fashion world. But no, it’s not as glamorous as it seems.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Meeting Jean Paul Gautier during his exhibition at the NGV a couple of years ago. I was so nervous about meeting him because he’s such a flamboyant, colourful character and he’s so talented. I got to spend half an hour with him, one-on-one, and it was one of those kind of pinch me moments where I was thinking, “wow, I’m so lucky “. He was so incredibly talented and so down to earth and interesting and I just thought he was amazing, and it was such a privilege to have that opportunity.
What’s the best part of your job?
Definitely the people that you get to meet, the stories you get to tell. People I’ve done stories on have become friends because we’ve known each other for a long time. And, you know, yes we all have this job to do, and yes it’s fashion, and yes some people think it’s just fashion, but it’s not just fashion. There’s a lot that goes with it and around it and I would say 100 per cent the people I’ve met and the opportunities to tell a good story are the best bits.
What changes have you noticed in the industry during your time as a journalist; especially with blogging and bloggers becoming so popular?
It’s changed dramatically in the last five years in the way we operate. We’re not just writing for the newspaper anymore, we’re also writing for online and we’re on social media giving our readers front row access. And we’re always thinking about expanding on the information we give out so that you’re giving more value to readers. If I’m doing a story for the paper, I’m also thinking of something additional I can do for online. Even on the days that I’m not in the office I’m on my phone or on my computer and looking at what everybody else is doing making sure we’re not missing anything.
Inspiration comes from all sorts of different places and I think the blogger thing is interesting. I don’t see it as a threat to us directly. I think there’s a few bloggers that I like and trust, but most of them I think there’s a big question mark over the trustworthiness of their content. It’s interesting because the landscape’s changing completely and newspapers are feeling pressure, but no one really knows where the wave’s gonna land so we’re all just riding it at the moment and adapting the way that we work.
What advice do you have for young journalists wanting to get into fashion journalism?
Start writing as soon as you can for whoever you can start writing for, even if it be your own blog. Just wherever you get the opportunity to start writing and getting experience and improving your skills. Thinking outside the mainstream sometimes and trying to find a way in is really important because it’s very difficult to get a job now. It comes down to that perseverance, being in the right place at the right time, willingness to work hard, and sometimes finding an obscure way to get your foot in the door. There are jobs out there; you just need to think outside the box a little bit.