A stylist’s stock in trade used to be magazine tear sheets – pages literally torn from glossy publications and archived to show their work. The tide of social media, especially image based social media like Instagram, has given stylists their own platform and a level of influence which has seen some achieve near cult-like status.
Since she started in the styling business more than 15 years ago, Megan Morton has become one of the best. She is the sought-after stylist for high-end interior design and fashion magazines (Elle Decoration, Vogue Living, Inside Out, Vogue, Vanity Fair), creative companies with expensive advertising campaigns and private clients needing her skills as a self-proclaimed ‘house whisperer’. She has edited and written three books about her love of Home. At the time of writing she has almost 70 000 instagram followers (the size of a healthy magazine circulation in Australia) and a devoted and growing fan base.
A few years ago she started “The School”. During her career, which is a particular mix of making beautiful images, how to make things practically and work collaboratively, she’s collected a lot of knowledge. She’s also collected a coterie of quirky creative people that she loves to work with. The School is a way of sharing all of her and her friends’ knowledge.
Recently Megan took The School to New York for the first time. She set up ‘campuses’ in spaces that belong to her friends in the Australian creative diaspora and others that have connected to her through Instagram.
At Australian photographer Martyn Thompson’s studio, Texan Floral designer Ashley Woodson Bailey ran her “Florography” class. Japanese-Hawaiian calligrapher Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls conducted a “Calligraphy” class in a private residence in Chelsea, and Megan delivered her own highly attended “Science of Styling” class in the studios of Chandelier Creative, a prominent media agency belonging to her Australian friend Richard Christiansen.
Megan was particularly happy to take “extreme knitter” Jacqui Fink to New York from Sydney for her first trip to that city.
“I wanted to show an articulated craft from Australia that was unlike anything being done in Brooklyn, for instance. Jacqui has invented her own artful version of extreme knitting, and complementing that with the original materials from Australia was a fun aesthetic. She uses these enormous needles made from Australian Oak, and then we have the beautiful, fairy floss-like wool from Australian sheep. After a few hours in that class everybody ended up with their own beautiful white Australian merino wearable.
“Once you’ve made something by hand it opens up your mind. Those guys that made those woollen wearables will I hope never again question the value of anything handmade that you can wear or put into your house.”
For Megan, wool is an authentic Australian product that we don’t make enough of in our homes. “Fashion has done such a good job with it, but in the home…. Australian wool should be our own cashmere.
“It’s such an efficient product - so cooling and warming. It’s this incredible product that we export and it’s madness that it doesn’t have more pride and place in our own homes.
“When you think that something has been made in Italy and probably bound and packed in China or Portugal, letter pressed somewhere else and then shipped to Woollahra, it’s crazy.”
Megan feels that the next step for interiors is to be as inquisitive and earnest about products for the home as we are about where our food comes from. “We need to be asking, if it says ‘handmade’ – well, how handmade is it? And is it proper wool? Is it merino wool? You really have to ask those questions to work out if you’ll have it on your bed.”
She feels that those makers exist in Australia. They just need to be rediscovered and remarketed. In Megan’s busy creative life, one senses a new project emerging all the time. Watch this space.
Few know the interiors industry more than Australian-born David Clark.