Style Liaisons: In Conversation With Fashion Stylist & Editor Chloe Hill

The Viva contributing fashion editor's compositions feel like a balm, a refreshingly determined display of colour exactly when we need it


Stylist Chloe Hill. Photo / Supplied

With a decade in magazine publishing under her belt, Chloe Hill was well-versed in the art of fashion when she established herself as a freelance stylist.

Now a contributing fashion editor for our quarterly, Viva Magazine, and the founder of Cool Pretty Cool, the Poneke-based creative is a celebrator of the joys of clothes, piecing together visual treats for those who love and think deeply about how and why we dress. Her personal taste is eminently wearable, a fun, often riotous display of colour that puts her happiness first.

Here, Chloe shares why she's a faithful cardi-wearer, her experience with clothing as a new mother and finding clarity in her sense of self.

Describe your personal style.

Eclectic and colourful. Random. It’s truly a mix of everything that makes me happy, while prioritising comfort too.

Who are your favourite designers, and why?

Locally, I love Wynn Hamlyn, his pieces are so classic but always with a twist. Twenty seven-Names and Havilah are also favourites with their eclectic use of colours and prints. They’re both based here in Poneke too. Around the world there are so many brands that I rate highly, Prada and Miu Miu collections are forever one the top of my wish list. Miuccia is a genius in my books. Rave Review in Sweden repurposes amazing secondhand pieces like blankets into luxury garments. Across the ditch in Australia, Romance Was Born, for their whimsical and playful designs that always make me happy.

Tell us the story of your favourite piece of clothing.

I have a Prada beaded cardigan I take absolutely everywhere with me. It’s a work of art. The AW17 collection was jam-packed with pieces I loved but at the time I had in my head that a cardigan would make my slightly daggy style even daggier. But after sourcing this one through a friend a few years later it totally changed my mind. I’ve been a cardi-wearer ever since. Yes, lots of 60 plus women stop me on the street to compliment me on it, but I’m okay with that. They clearly know what’s hot.

What piece of clothing have you inherited that’s particularly special to you?

I had a pair of toe-joes (does anyone else call them that, or just my Mum?) my Mum wore growing up that I inherited and wore everyday in my last year of primary school. They were chunky brown slide sandals with floral embossing and I was running through the playground one day and they broke. I remember feeling completely devastated I had ruined them, and I still think about how much I loved them. It’s such a special feeling to wear something that someone close to you wore at a similar time in their life.

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Is there anything you look for when you shop?

My rule when adding something to my wardrobe is it has to be really special. Too many times in the past I justified buying a classic or plain piece because I thought I would wear it hundreds of times. I never would and those basic pieces never made me happy. I realised it was better to only add pieces that were joyful and fun, hence why my style has become a mishmash of amazing, eclectic pieces. Not everything goes together, but that’s okay.

What, in your opinion, makes style?

Wear what you love. It’s clear when people are dressing for themselves and being true to what they enjoy.

What influences your fashion sense?

Art, colours, nature, people. Really anything I see that makes me excited. I try to expose myself to new things whenever I can, exploring gardens and galleries, or simply walking around busy city streets (when it’s Covid-safe to do so).

Were you into fashion growing up?

I loved getting dressed up but I really didn’t have any knowledge of fashion beyond my mum’s wardrobe and the local mall. The only mags I read before I left high school were Cleo, Dolly and Cosmo. But, luckily, my parents were very creative with art and sewing, so they fostered in me a love of creativity early on.

How has your relationship to fashion changed since your teenage years?

I knew certain pieces I loved but I had no idea about my own style as a teenager. I was very influenced by friends and kids at my school. Once I got to my mid-twenties I had developed my own sense of style and clarity on what I actually love. Yes, I’m definitely still influenced by trends, but I would never buy into anything that I wouldn’t be wearing in a year, or in 10 years.

How, if at all, has your relationship to fashion changed this year?

I had a baby and moved home to Te Whanganui-a-Tara a year ago so that has drastically changed my relationship with fashion. I’ve been limited to wearing clothes I can breastfeed in, which has meant so many of my favourite high-neck pieces have been removed from rotation. I’m more likely to throw on an easy-to-wear printed dress and sweater with sneakers, and often skip anything super-detailed or hard to wash. I wore a suede skirt the other day and got water all over it washing dishes. I also think about hats a lot more given Aotearoa’s harsh sun. Caps are my go-to lately.

There are a lot of challenges ahead for designers, from navigating the post-Covid world to working towards sustainability. Is there anything that you hope will emerge creatively?

I hope that consumers will drive a desire for special made-to-order pieces, that will mean brands can have a more thoughtful and fun approach to design. Not being limited by mass-producing styles for wholesale orders, instead connecting directly with customers with meaningful pieces.

Where do you love to shop?

Hunters & Collectors on Cuba Street in Wellington is amazing for a mix of designer labels and no-name vintage. It always makes me so happy popping in there and squeezing through the racks. Recycle Boutique and Tatty’s are amazing for secondhand finds too, and both have awesome online stores.

Which cartoon or fictional character's personal style from a film or book do you relate to and why?

Cartoon characters bore me because they usually wear the same outfit all the time. At least they’re being sustainable though. Bubble from Ab Fab always inspires me. Not because her style aligns with mine, but she wears whatever the hell she wants.

What songs are a must-listen when you are getting ready to go out?

Anything upbeat from the early 2000’s, for nostalgia’s sake. J Lo is always a winner.

The ultimate white T-shirt: I don’t understand white T-shirts. How do people manage to keep them clean? Mine are discoloured after like two wears, they’re simply too much maintenance. I would say go for a coloured vintage tee instead.

A signature scent you accessorise with: I just discovered Abel’s Pink Iris, it’s beautiful and natural and, even better, it’s made by a New Zealander (hi, Frances).

5 THINGS CHLOE IS COVETING

Maggie Marilyn’s 'Could Have Been Yours' dress
It’s black, so an unexpected choice for me, but it’s so special and post-breastfeeding I know I would wear it all the time.

Zambesi’s floral mackintosh
They produced this in pink for their main collection but Liz found some extra floral fabric so did a select run in this print. Obsessed.

This Vivienne Westwood vintage poncho
Perfect for some extra spring sun protection here in Poneke.

A Miu Miu crochet bonnet
I’m so sick of washing my fringe and styling my hair. This would make my life much easier. The built-in mask would be handy too.

Lucky Dip X Kaukau shirt
Thinking ahead to summer, one of Lucky Dip X Kaukau’s beautiful shirts, made out of business shirts and home linens, would be wonderful.

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