If you’re a slave to the Australian media circuit—particularly the golden glossies—you’ll know Monica Russell’s name already. For those unacquainted, Mon held an eight year tenure as an editor Marie Claire, mining the fashion world for magnificent releases, noteworthy trends and collaborating with all sorts of worldly names in design.
After draping models in spectacular garbs and canvassing for the purpose of editorial content, Monica recently shifted her focus to pursue a career in consulting. She even has her own vintage resale platform on Etsy coined Trinket, so you can shop a curated vault of handpicked kitchen and home accoutrements with ease, knowing they qualify with good taste.
Here, we check in with Monica on her new venture, recent triumphs, lockdown rituals and the clothes she plans to dress up in as Sydney’s picnicking freedoms approach. For those toying with the idea of going out on their own, Mon’s advice might be the antidote to your indecision.
After eight years in editorial, it was an exciting/slightly terrifying step to go out on my own
What are you up to these days with work, Mon? What’s keeping you busy?
Just getting into the flow of the freelance lifestyle. Super weird timing and all with the unexpected lockdown, but I guess there is never the perfect moment to go freelance right?….at least that’s what I’m telling myself hehe! I’ve actually been trying to embrace the forced downtime and use this as a moment to recharge a little (after an 8 year stint as a Fashion Editor) and really get myself set up on the backend of running my own business. Despite the lockdown I have been fortunate to still be able to work on some really amazing campaigns which is keeping me creative and helping me ease into the new rhythm of things.
On surviving Sydney’s lockdown, what are your non-negotiable coping mechanisms/routines?
I approached lockdown a little differently this time around and took the pressure off myself a bit. The first lockdown I felt the need to keep constantly busy by jumping on the baking bread bandwagon, learning to knit, a calendar full of zoom catch-ups, reading a new book every week…so many things! This time though, I’ve been content with just going with the flow a little more and doing what feels right for the day. Some days I’ve wanted to get creative and try a fun new hobby, and other days I’ve just wanted to binge on some bad Netflix.
How did you find the shift from the editorial world to going out on your own as a freelancer?
After eight years in editorial, it was an exciting/slightly terrifying step to go out on my own. My whole career as a stylist was at Marie Claire, so it was a big leap of faith to decide to freelance but I was looking forward to creating a name for myself outside of that title. I miss the collaboration of being on a team, and those big editorial fashion moments, but really loving getting to work with brands in a new capacity as a consultant and helping them bring their ideas to life.
Biggest lessons in self-led work so far?
Not to underestimate the importance of Google Calendar haha!! Seriously though, it sounds simple but there have been moments where I have been juggling multiple shoots at once and when everything is overlapping and looking a bit impossible, breaking it all down and diarising everything has saved me a lot of stress. Also how vital it is to build the right team around you. I have some amazing assistants who I work with on all my jobs. They are incredible and really understand my headspace. When you can find someone who can preempt your next move, that is invaluable.
What’s something you’ve consumed lately (be it a book, article, show) we should all get across with haste?
I’ve consumed one too many Margaritas lately!! Keeping the lockdown mood light – would recommend.
Harrolds wishlist right now?
It’s the first day of Spring so my warm weather wishlist is growing and there are so many goodies to shop at Harrolds at the moment!
As much as I love a cute colourful prairie dress, puff sleeves and prints for Spring/Summer there are still those days where I just want to wear fuss free, top to toe black. This Esber dress with the crochet panelling is a dream…and paired with these Khaite lace-up sandals!! How cute is this Alessandra Rich set? Perfect with denim for now. Also loving these McQueen shell shorties. So sporty and I love the exaggerated silhouette. ….. okay that’s enough shopping for one day!
Shop Monica's Edit
An Australian designer you’re particularly invested in currently?
We are so lucky, there is so much talent and amazing creatives in Australia. A few of the local labels I’m loving at the moment include – Fruitopia which has the cutest hand crochet bikinis, bags and hats. Wolfgang Scout has the best luxury knitwear and silks. And I can’t look past Alix Higgins hyper colour aerodynamic tech wear – something for everybody!
What’s a recent (albeit lockdown) shoot or project you were particularly proud of being involved with?
My favourite shoot and project I am most proud of is a story I styled for Marie Claire magazine and shot with Georges Antoni right at the peak of the first Covid outbreak. It was a dark and scary time for the world and the Australian Fashion Industry really took a hit. There were mass magazine closures and local labels were really struggling.
I felt a responsibility with this story to bring some light and optimism in a time when we all needed it the most. The story was a celebration of Australian Fashion and that free-spirited, light-hearted, quintessential Australian mood. It was playful, nostalgic, and above all, it was optimistic. It was everything we needed fashion to be in that moment.
Tell us what you’re wearing day-to-day at home. Athleisure or proper dressing advocate?
The first Sydney lock down I really made an effort of putting together proper outfits, but I seem to have somewhat dropped the ball this time around. Daily looks these days seem to consist of either super stretchy bottoms or Acne Toj jeans, paired with oversize knits, or vintage silk nighties with hoodies over the top. I’ve kind of enjoyed this reprieve from ‘proper dressing’ but admit the novelty is wearing a little thin. I’m looking forward to getting dressed up for an event again.