Today I’m interviewing Melbourne Fashion Institute’s Fashion Styling and Creative Direction mentor, Melissa Nixon. Melissa was recently awarded the AHFA Fashion Stylist of the Year 2018, and I got the opportunity to chat with her about this amazing achievement, her successful career as a fashion stylist, and how MFI’s course prepares students to work in the fashion industry.
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You have lead quite an exciting career as a fashion stylist and creative director, can you describe to our readers what your job is like?
It’s challenging, exciting, and very fulfilling. Everyday I’m inspired by fellow creatives and pushing myself to create the best work that I can. All of us creatives do it for the same reason; we’re trying to create beautiful imagery, that’s what we strive for. It’s definitely my passion, you’ve got to love what you do, and I’ve been doing it for 22 years now.
Can you walk me through a typical day on the set of a photo shoot, and how you would prepare for it?
A shoot can take anywhere between 24 hours to 3 months to prepare for. There’s a lot that goes into preparation, and for me it will differ depending on whether I’m producing the shoot or just styling it. Once I receive a brief I collate as much information as possible and start tapping into all my resources and liaising with contributors. The whole creative team will have plenty of meetings throughout the process to make sure we’re all on the same page and meeting the brief.
On the day: I’ll arrive on set and liaise with the photographer and the rest of the team to make sure that we’re all on the same page. We need to be extremely effective, so preplanning is crucial. We’ll brief the models, then we’ll get into shooting, and this can take a day or several! You’ve got to stay on you’re a-game and make sure you continue to produce your best work.
You have just won the Australian Hair Fashion Awards (AHFA) Fashion Stylist of the Year. Congratulations! That’s an amazing achievement. Can you tell me about the award and how you came to be nominated?
The AHFA is a national competition that recognizes Australian creatives in hairdressing, fashion styling, and makeup. I’ve been shooting for AHFA for years but never entered; a friend of mine was a bit sneaky and entered for me. I feel incredibly humbled and honoured to have won such a prestigious award. There were so many talented entrants this year, I feel very privileged to have been among them.
This award highlights how successful you’ve been in your career. What do you attribute your success to?
Working hard and never giving up on what I want to achieve. I don’t expect that someone else is going to do the work for me, I do it all myself. It’s a different world for stylists today; with social media there’s a lot of competition and outside influences. It’s important that you stay true to your creative vision and keep working hard and exceeding expectations, no matter how long you’ve been in the industry.
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your career as a stylist/creative director? How did you overcome them?
The main challenges I had were the same as any up-and-coming stylist; building relationships in the industry and gaining credibility. It takes time, you have to keep working at it. I was very fortunate that when I got into styling I was already quite familiar with the industry, having worked in promotions in radio. It was a change of culture for me going from radio to styling, but it wasn’t a direct flip; I knew I’d have to work hard if I wanted to be successful.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you were starting out, what would it be?
Always respect the people you are working with and working for. The relationships you make in this industry are so important; you have to nurture them. These are the people that will support you throughout your career.
What do you love about your job?
I love the people that I have met throughout my job that continue to inspire me, the opportunities I’ve had, and being able to create beautiful imagery. That’s what I live for. Every day is an opportunity for me to meet fellow creatives that I can then go and make magic with.
Teaching is also a big part of my career, and I love it! It’s a dream for me to be able to share my knowledge and experience with budding stylists, and give them the support they need to start their careers.
Who are some of the notable people or companies you’ve worked with in the fashion industry?
I’ve worked across a range of brands and industries, including fashion, shoes, and hair both domestically and internationally. I’ve worked with brands like Sportsgirl, Cotton On, Sass & Bide, Balenciaga, Peter Alexander, Biba Salons, Toni and Guy, there are hundreds!
You’re also the mentor of MFI’s Fashion Styling and Creative Direction course. How does the course prepare students to work in the fashion industry?
In the course it’s not about telling students what looks good with what; there aren’t any rules in fashion, it’s up to your eye and what you think works. MFI’s course offers current industry based learning and practical experiences that allow students to hone their own creative ideas and bring their vision to life. We’re preparing students to work in the industry as soon as they walk out MFI’s doors after the 6 months.
What advice can you give prospective students thinking about studying Fashion Styling and Creative Direction at MFI?
Be prepared to challenge yourself, think outside the box, and take every opportunity you can to learn and grow your skills. If you work hard in this course and push your creative boundaries you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve achieved after the 6 months.