Friday, September 4, 2009

Interview - Nadia Barbaro

Styling - Nadia Barbaro, Photos - Thuy Vu

Styling - Nadia Barbaro, Photos - Thuy Vu

Styling - Nadia Barbaro, Photos - Thuy Vu

I introduced Nadia Barbaro last week when I posted about Sesame Magazine.... and today I am very excited to share an interview with the wonder-woman herself! Nadia is a bit of a dynamo - in addition to her day-job as a fashion stylist for both film and print media, she is also constantly working on her beloved side-project, Sesame Magazine. Nadia co-ordinates all of Sesame's content, also styling most of the photo shoots personally, not to mention roping in favours from all kinds of talented contributors - models, illustrators, graphic designers etc etc... The incredible results are testament to Nadia's talent and sheer determination!

Of her many talents and achievements, perhaps the one thing I most admire about Nadia is her get-up-and-go! Nadia just never lets a set-back defeat her...! As you'll see in the interview below, Nadia started out with no publishing experience... But her perseverance with Sesame has absolutely paid off. It's a truly inspiring outlook, and just goes to show what you can achieve if you set your mind to it!

Thanks so much for Nadia for her time with this interview, and of course for featuring The Design Files in the current issue of Sesame! Do pop over and check out Sesame Mag if you haven't already... also Nadia has a blog here.

Sarah Blasko - Always On This Line
music video. Costume styling by Nadia Barbaro. For more of Nadia's film styling work, visit her showreel blog.

Tell me a little about your background - what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I fell into doing Sesame + styling accidentally. Even though I have been really obsessed with fashion and photography since I was a young girl, I ended up studying Creative Arts at Melbourne Uni. I majored in Media and for some crazy reason was convinced I wanted to be a TV producer! Luckily, I could never find any work in production!

I decided to try to make my own work experience, and created a TV show in 2002 called Sesame for community television. It featured interviews with many independent Melbourne designers like Gorman, Obus, Gwendolynne, Alpha 60, artists like Marcel Cousins, Abbey McCulloch and Rhys Lee and illustrators Beci Orpin and Cassandra Allen.

After a brief stint as an assistant on the SBS tv show ‘Safran Vs God’, I joined a freelance agency, wanting to be listed as a production assistant. The lady there said to me “oh you love fashion, why don’t I put you down as a Wardrobe assistant as well?”. I thought why not? It ended up being the perfect move. I never got a production job, instead I assisted many stylists on tv shoots, learning on the job, and eventually worked for a Costume Designer called Katie Graham on numerous tv commercials and two feature films. I then went out on my own to style for different directors on tv commercials + music videos as well as for Frankie magazine and of course, Sesame.

Tell us how Sesame got started, and how it has developed since the first issue was printed a few years back?

So after two years of Sesame as a TV show, I decided to turn it into a print magazine. I had no experience in publishing, but luckily lots of clever people helped me out along the way. We had a limited print run of 2,000 copies and were stocked in independent boutiques and bookstores. It was a really expensive project though, and it was frustrating that we had such a small audience. It was also expensive to post them interstate, let alone overseas. I felt like we had done all this work and so few people would see it!

So I decided to turn it into an online magazine. Hopefully it is getting stronger each issue. I love collaborating with some of the same people each issue. Of course I always love finding new talent to join the team! Nobody involved really has a background in fashion publishing, the photographers are from an art and film background, which hopefully gives us a unique perspective and aesthetic.

The new issue incorporates more interactive and animated elements than before, which I think is important, we need to stand apart from the print magazines and be our own medium. I had said to myself, this issue is not going to be girly or whimsical, I want people to be surprised and think that can’t be Sesame?! However, I ended up doing the opposite and turning up the volume on the girliness! I can’t help it, I’m always told to be less girly in my day job so I need an outlet for it somewhere!

Do you manage Sesame all by yourself? It must be an incredible juggling act balancing the research / writing / photoshoots / production and promotion! How do you structure your time to ensure everything gets done efficiently?

Yes I do run things by myself, I don’t know how it all gets done, but somehow it does! I guess I just try to plan things well from the start, and work on producing one shoot at a time. Luckily with email I can contact people in my own time and get back to them when I have a moment. With freelancing I get some spare time between jobs, so I can fully focus on it, its just about keeping really organised and writing lots of do to lists!

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

There is no real typical day. If I'm working, I'm shopping, running about town sourcing clothing, I might have fittings, be looking up references, getting something custom made, and otherwise living in Savers and Myer/Dj’s!

Otherwise I'm catching up on what needs to be done on Sesame, trying to find the right clothes for a shoot, hunting down new locations to photograph, promoting it and just lots of other organisational stuff.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about working on Sesame for me is complete creative freedom. It’s so much fun to be able to fully realise your ideas and not have to explain anything to anyone. I also really love working with all the Sesame contributors. It really is a pleasure to put together.

Styling - Nadia Barbaro, Photos - Germain McMicking

And the worst?

Hmmm…The worst is shooting long days outdoors in winter! I have thermals and parkers and I’m still frozen all day! Also night shoots, argh, so painful! And the combination of these two things together is the worst! But I’ll stop there…

At the moment, which designers, artists and/or creative people are you inspired by?

I’m always been inspired and excited to see older creative ladies who continue to do amazing work. I guess I like the idea that there is lots of time to do everything you want to do and you can still be relevant even when you are not so young. I was watching The September Issue last night and I just adored Grace Coddington (US Vogues Creative Director, 70 years of age).

What are you looking forward to?

I'm heading to Japan next week! It’s a little bit scary how much shopping I might get up to... I’ve never been before so it will be very exciting.

Melbourne Questions

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Lunch at Borsch Vodka and Tears in Prahran. Porcini mushroom pierogi and chicken meatball soup. Yum!!

You favourite shopping strip in Melbourne for unique fashion finds?

Around Flinders lane is always lovely. There is Obus and Zambesi, or Smitten Kitten in Degraves lane for beautiful lingerie or Alice Euphemia in Cathedral Arcade for young Australian designers. For mens wear, there is the Leopold store on Swanston street in City Square, which is just off Flinders lane.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

If I’m working, I’m pushing slow weekend shoppers out of my way while I run about shopping! Otherwise, I’m just chilling out. If it’s Summer, I’m sunbathing and reading, and in winter, probably catching up on Project Runway or The Tudors or some other show I’ve recorded!

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Hmm…What’s a secret I’m happy to share? You can go swimming down at Warrandyte in summer in the river. There is an area that’s set up for it so it’s totally safe. It’s really peaceful and not many people know about it…sorry for ruining it! I had to suggest somewhere!!

Styling - Nadia Barbaro, Photos - Thuy Vu (I know I posted this shot last week... but I just love it so much!)


  1. I'm so with you about finding it inspiring seeing amazing older ladies working. I saw The September Issue and I thought Grace was absolutely fabulous. It does make me realise that I don't have to be in such a hurry all the time!

  2. Awww. BV & T was the highlight of my visit to Melbourne! I moved to Sydney from Canada and have been missing my beloved pierogies. My best friend found that restaurant and surprised me last time I was there.

    I posted a recipe to make pierogies from scratch on my blog if you took a liking to them :)

  3. Oh cool Lagniappe, I will go check out your recipe!

    Lauren, yeah it's such a relief sometimes to know there is no need to panic, there will be time to cross off everything on the list!