Content created in partnership with PUMA
The borders to the US may be closed but PUMA is helping us get that much closer to our California dreams with the release of their new, aptly titled, Cali Dream sneaker.
Not only is the Cali Dream the ultimate fresh style that will transport you straight to Venice Beach (green juice in hand as shirtless and bikini-clad skateboarders whoosh past an endless sky of dizzying blue and palm tree tops) but it will also inspire you into the heady long days of summer and the endless potential they offer you to go after your dreams.
The Cali sneaker has long been a wardrobe favourite for many in Aotearoa; now, with the new Cali Dreams, PUMA wants to inspire women to celebrate following and chasing their dreams and above all else, imbue wearers with an unfaltering spirit of self-belief.
We tapped PUMA fan, celebrity stylist and NZFW ambassador Sarah Stuart - a walking embodiment of someone unafraid to chase her dreams - to find out how this fearlessness and self-belief lead to her dream career. And while we had her, we couldn’t resist asking for some expert advice on how to wear our Cali Dream sneakers this summer.
How would you describe your personal style?
It depends on my mood… I love colour, preferably an autumn palette and playing with colour blocking. I genuinely find fashion fun and I enjoy the escapism and storytelling that can come with styling yourself. I love vintage shopping and I would say my style has a nod to retro styling.
Who are your style icons/muses?
Charlotte Rampling in the ‘70s, Marisa Berenson or Chloë Sevigny, and more recently, [German model and influencer] Leonie Hanne.
When you think of ‘Cali style’, what comes to mind?
My first thought is ‘70s Venice Beach, beach culture with skaters and surfers who have sun bleached hair with bronzed skin. Cali style is always very casual, effortless, cool, and laid-back.
Speaking of ‘dreams’, tell us how you became a stylist? Did you know you always wanted to be one? How hard was it for you to land your dream job?
I knew I wanted to work in fashion but was not sure about what sector. I have always loved creating characters and it fascinates me how you can use clothing as an outlet for self-expression.
It wasn’t for a couple of years after completing university with a Bachelor in Fashion Design that I got into styling. I was working at a fashion buying company when a friend gave me an opportunity to style someone. It was a great experience and I was hooked, it was then I knew this was my path. I worked for years assisting for free, attended courses, looked internationally and just did anything I could to gather knowledge. I had side-jobs to get by. It may be different nowadays but that's how I got to where I am now.
Being open to experiences allows you to come across incredible people. In London, I worked in Browns boutique where Mrs. B, the ‘fairy godmother’ of fashion, made Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Christopher Kane famous with her instinct for fashion. Since then, I have over a decade’s worth of experience working in New Zealand, New York, Dubai and London, and in everything from wardrobe to styling photo shoots (editorial and advertising campaigns), music videos, television promotional shoots and personal styling.
When I returned to NZ in 2015, I landed my dream job at TV3. What I have learnt is, the more you learn, the more you realise you know nothing. You always need to stay curious, keep your eyes open and absorb from your surroundings and inspiring people.
What is it about your style that you think resonates with people, and lead to you becoming an NZFW ambassador, and aligning with PUMA?
That's a good question… I’m not sure but I am grateful. It could be due to my style and embracing diversity, inclusivity and that I am approachable. I tap into the psychology of dressing, focusing on what makes you feel great and to encourage a strong sense of self.
As a stylist, how do you set your own personal style aside to dress others? Or do you always bring a piece of yourself to your clients?
No one is you and that is your power, I wouldn't want anyone to dress like me. I trained in fashion design and also personal styling so I can separate my style and personal tastes to encompass someone's personal taste and style, and to fulfil the brief and understand the assignment.
At Ensemble we love the freedom of expression getting dressed affords us, and the various stories we can tell through it. Does getting dressed imbue you with special powers? Can you change your mood or try on a different personality?
That is the power and beauty of fashion, you can create and portray whatever you want to be in that time and moment. Fashion can be a mood enhancer, uplifting and the ultimate form of escapism.
What is it you love about sneakers? How do you like to wear sneakers right now?
Apart from the obvious - they’re comfortable - I feel your sneakers say a lot about you and what you represent. I love to dress up my sneakers with soft tailoring and my go-to at the moment is to roll out a ‘90s and early ‘00s vibe.
Are you a sneaker to work or a high heel to work kind of woman?
My work is interchangeable every day, going from meetings, viewings, fittings and hauling clothing. I love wearing sneakers when on set and doing my shoot returns.
Is there anywhere you wouldn’t wear trainers?
Favourite way to wear your Cali Dream sneakers?
I love the soft dreamy colourway, the elevated sole and the nod to its retro vibe. The ultimate concoction for the perfect sneaker. My PUMA Cali’s are teamed best with relaxed tailoring or with my acid green flares.
What is your favourite summer style tip?
Always have sneakers and your swimsuit in your car. You never want to be caught off guard for any occasion that summer will offer you.