Pōneke-based fashion creative, stylist and influencer Chloe Hill is a literal ray of light on our local industry. Known for her bold embrace of colour and effortless way with print, she has a joy about her that permeates through her work and into her many collaborations with local designers like Kowtow, Kate Sylvester, Twenty-seven Names and Daylight Moon.
We were excited to lure her into our Ensemble fashion week suite at the Viaduct Harbour’s QT hotel to do her makeup ahead of a busy day of shows, including emerging talent Rory Docherty, share a Little Bird defence tonic (in lieu of Champagne; Chloe was recovering from a lost voice) and chat to her about her thoughts on the local industry as NZFW kicked off.
Although Chloe admits she’s more of a “lip girl”, she was up to trying something different today. Makeup artist (and Ensemble publishing coordinator) Lara Daly chose a baby blue liquid eyeliner and cobalt blue mascara to match Chloe’s outfit, and a touch of luminous peach blush.
You were described briefly as an international delegate which is hilarious as you’ve flown in from Pōneke, but also apt because you spent many years in Australia and still have a high profile in the industry there.
What’s your best international fashion week memory, and what are some unique qualities of how we do it in Aotearoa that you appreciate?
Chloe: I have so many memories from overseas that are really special. This is a cheesy one but the first time I'd ever gone to Milan, I flew in that day and got to go to Alessandro Michele's second show for Gucci. I got stranded afterwards. I didn't know how to book a taxi back or anything, but I didn't care. It was a momentous part of fashion history. I can't even describe the feeling.
You can’t compare the international fashion weeks to New Zealand. It is such a different feeling here. And for me, being so intrinsically linked to this country, through growing up here, and the connections I have to brands and to the people that walk in the shows and the pieces that are designed - it’s such a different feeling. I can't compare it to going to an international show.
You’re a fashion week ambassador - what does that actually mean, for you?
It's about supporting brands as much as possible. Having that official capacity does put you in the head space of, ‘I'm here and I'm here as an ambassador’, so how can I optimise support for all of these amazing brands that have committed to showing this week? Often influencers and people come along and don’t feel obliged to post. If you're attending a show and a brand is putting so much into that show I think there’s a responsibility to give something in return.
How do you decide what to wear to a show?
It depends on the day and the show, but for fashion week in Aotearoa I definitely have at the forefront of my mind, how can I support brands? I think for brands, one of the most important pieces of content in holding a show is people at the show wearing pieces.
Of course, they get lots of beautiful catwalk and backstage content, but [the public] are probably shopping off what people are actually wearing. So I do feel a responsibility going to a show to be supporting them and their designs by maybe wearing a piece from the current collection mixed back with something of my own.
During New Zealand Fashion Week, and the same in Australia, I always try to wear local brands as much as possible. So if I get asked if I want to loan an Australian brand when I'm at NZFW, I'll say no.
You’re one of the only local influencers who regularly works with global luxury brands, while also genuinely wearing and championing NZ fashion and young designers. How do you approach that fine line between both facets of ‘fashion’?
It’s about wearing pieces I genuinely love; there's a varied selection of brands I enjoy wearing. International brands really value someone who is also championing local brands.
As much as it can seem like those like big conglomerates are not really thinking about it, their PR teams are often looking for people that are doing meaningful things locally. The preference with a lot of brands is to be working with people who are showing their genuine style.
We’re great believers in fashion as an expression of identity. What does today’s outfit say about you?
Today's outfit says I'm shooting backstage and I want to be comfortable. I'm wearing a Kate Sylvester cardi and Rory William Docherty jeans and velvet coat, with some very practical kitten heels.
I picked them because they were comfortable and going into the first day, I don't want to be worried about a slit going up too high or something being exposed. I just want to be running around and catching up with people without being stressed about my outfit.
Rory is an exciting talent, with a lot of experience – what do you like about his designs?
Rory’s an immense talent. He’s going to be huge here and probably overseas. He has such a vision for his brand and you can feel it even seeing his look books, every single piece, it's all just got so much technical work to it.
So much thought has gone into every single element and that's really proof that he understands his brand and what he wants to achieve. In the long run that will really benefit him.
You have a lot of respect and mana from those young creatives, and others in the industry too. Who do YOU look to in that way?
Some of the original stylists I worked with, I still regard so highly, I feel like I can never thank them enough for everything they gave and taught me throughout the years.
Like Peter Simon Phillips who’s an amazing stylist and also a really kind human - at that time in magazines, that sadly wasn't always the case. His way of expressing joy and kindness in even the most stressful situations has always stuck with me.
Now, I get to work with some really amazing people like Dan Ahwa who has such an awesome perspective on styling. It can be quite insular being a stylist and so to appreciate different perspectives is really special.
What are you looking for in a show? You’re one of the most vocal people in the local industry speaking up about issues of sustainability – what are you hoping to see (and not see) in that space?
I'm hoping to see brands just doing their own thing and not being so dictated by TikTok trends and things like that, that are so short-lived. That's not a sustainable approach to fashion. It's not just about fabrications and practices that are sustainable, but truly thinking through the ethos of how you're creating a mood for your collection. Does that have longevity in your customer's wardrobe?
What or who are you most excited for this week?
I'm really excited to see what Bobby Campbell Luke does this afternoon. His show a few years ago is probably the most memorable fashion show I've ever been to.
You’re pretty natural when it comes to beauty – does that approach change during fashion week?
I definitely put a little bit more effort in like, ‘oh, I should actually pluck my eyebrows for once’ or I’ll pack some hair scissors and give my fringe a trim. But that's kind of the extent of it.
We love your hair! Tell us about its state/look, today. Do you really trim your fringe yourself?
Yeah I do. And I'm trying to grow out my hair so I haven't cut it in months. The ends are kind of hectic. But I also don't mind, a bit unkempt is my vibe.
I had it out earlier and then I put on my velvet coat and it was just like a lot of big hair and velvet. So that's why it's been like nipped back into a little low bun.
Ok, now the hard questions. Heels or flats?
Eyes or lips?
Lips. Except today.
Photographed and filmed at the QT Hotel, Viaduct Harbour
Photography / Abigail Dell'Avo
Video / Zac Emerson
Makeup / Lara Daly