“Sometimes I look back on my styling, and think it was a little questionable,” laughs Lana Wilkinson, while dressed in her anything but questionable Misha Collection suit.
“This was mostly because of what I had access to when I was starting out,” she says, “I thought, ‘This is what I’ve got, so let’s throw some glitter on it and make it look amazing.'”
Making talent sparkle is part and parcel of what a celebrity stylist does and Lana Wilkinson is renowned for throwing her particular brand of glitter on some of the country’s most well-known individuals.
Lana’s impressive client list includes the likes of Rebecca Judd, Megan Gale, Elyse Knowles, Nadia Bartel, Ellie Gonsalves, Kayla Itsines, Anna Heinrich, Mavournee Hazel, and more. She has also styled Hills royalty turned fashion designer, Whitney Port, British celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal and worked with world-renowned stylist, Rachel Zoe. She also works with Australia’s top designers, collaborating with Thurley, Asilio, Dion Lee, Misha Collection, Yeojin Bae, Toni Maticevski and Steele.
“I hate the term ‘celebrity stylist’,” the bonafide celebrity stylist laughs. Also an Australian Style Institute mentor, Lana sat down with us between a Mimco event and appointment to give us the nitty-gritty behind her career.
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Suited up in @mishacollection for @_mimco Ethical Fashion Initiative Lunch. Feel privileged to work with a brand like #Mimco who contribute to truly changing peoples lives. Makeup. @eyelash.goddess Hair. @emilymarziano Tan. @sprayaus Shoes. @misslouiseboutique @ethicalfashion #mimco
“Don’t always think it’s what you see on Instagram. By the time you see that all the work has been done,” she says. “You are picking things up, dropping things off and you’re on your hands and knees all the time. But that’s what the job is. It’s the stuff that’s too ugly to be put on Instagram when you’re doing that, then you’re a stylist.”
Working in public relations for Westfield before becoming a property manager, Lana began her styling career pre-social media. She has earned her success through old fashion hard work and tenacity.
“I’d work seven till nine, sometimes ten o’clock in a corporate role as property manager then I’d be doing my blogging and styling on the side,” she says, ”I worked a lot for free…for three years I did that.”
Lana’s moment of clarity came while working for free and styling an emerging Ruby Rose for the cover of a magazine.
“I remember putting her in a dress by Nicholas, it was this neon thing from Green with Envy, and it sold out as soon as she wore it. That’s when I thought, ‘I’m onto something here’. ”
Lana is now the most sought-after celebrity stylist in the country. What is more remarkable, is that she gained her iconic status based solely on the calibre of her work.
“I’ve never gone out to someone and said ‘I can dress you’,” says Lana. “There’s no point saying I can dress someone if they don’t like the way I dress or how I dress others, it’s got to be authentic. When you do great work, it will speak for itself,” she says.
Styling is about so much more than just having a flair for fashion. It is about networking, researching and respecting people.
“It’s about understanding who they are, what they want to do, which designers we can hit up, editing and putting everything together and making sure they feel the best version of themselves, ” she says.
“My job is done once we have that moment in the mirror with no hair or makeup and they’re standing there going ‘Wow, I feel really good’,” she says. “If someone is loving themselves, they’ll project that onto everybody, and that’s my idea of what best-dressed looks like.”
With access to Australia’s most sought-after designers and an extensive client list, Lana’s idea of best dressed is pretty indisputable.
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Behind the Scenes @elyseknowlzy in @toni_maticevski @myer Video by @emmylou.3 Music. @twinb2_ Hair & Makeup. @katefletcher_hairandmakeup Photographer. @streetsmith Rings. @lindencook Shoes. @giambattistavalliparis #styledbylanawilkinson assisted by @hayleyroach for @ausgp #GlamourOnTheGrid
“If you’re coming to me at this point in my career, you’re coming to get noticed. People engage me because they want to be able to get access to the relationships that I’ve got,” says Lana, who has spent her entire career cultivating and fostering these relationships with highly coveted labels.
“Don’t invest in the people, invest in the brands and invest in the agencies that can help you 365 days of the year.”
Lana also believes, to be successful, you must focus on yourself and not what your competitors are doing.
“I only started really getting successful when I stopped taking notice of what other people were doing. When you’re running a race, and you look back to see whose behind you, that only takes energy away from you. Don’t do it. Be the best you can be, and it’s only going to move you forward.”
“I was given that advice and didn’t believe, but it’s really true,” she smiles.
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Behind the Scenes. @annaheinrich1 for @gqaustralia BALL. Video. @emmylou.3 Soundtrack. @__________longlost___________ Bustier & Skirt. @toni_maticevski Clutch. Alexander McQueen at @theupstyler Earrings. @lindencook Shoes. @kurtgeiger Makeup. @jade__kmakeup Hair. @caroline.daoud @uvasalon #styledbylanawilkinson assisted @hayleyroach
Even with all the gruelling behind the scenes work, celebrity friends, killer parties and enviable wardrobe, Lana’s love for her work still stems from her desire to make people happy.
“The personal satisfaction I get from someone being really happy and feeling amazing far outweighs all that hard yakka work,” she says. “But the work is not something to take for granted.”
“It is hard, and I’m really slogging it sometimes, but that’s the reality and it’s because of that hard work that, if Instagram went away tomorrow, I’d still be a stylist.”
Written by Kaitlyn Wilson.