LARUICCI X HARPER'S BAZAAR AUSTRALIA
From books to Balenciaga: How Jamie-Maree Shipton took over the social sphere
Although she originally planned to be a journalist, free-spirited, London-based Melburnian Jamie-Maree Shipton is making waves as one of the hottest up-and-coming names in art direction, styling and creative direction.
Words by Patty Huntington, Photographed by Tom Blesch
EVER SINCE Percy Savage departed Brisbane for London in 1947 and went on to forge a career as one of the most influential fashion publicists in Paris, there has been a long conga line of Australians heading offshore to try their luck on the international fashion stage. Jamie-Maree Shipton is part of the latest Aussie offshore vanguard.
Arriving in London as a virtual unknown in 2017, the now 30-year-old Victorian has grabbed the attention of the industry with her wildly colourful creative direction and styling, all of which is underscored by a passion for talent-spotting and elevating emerging designers, models and creatives. Among clients keen on aligning themselves with Shipton’s cool factor is a plethora of large and small fashion titles including V magazine and Numéro, and a growing stable of niche fashion brands such as London’s Poster Girl, Beijing’s Marrknull and Lado Bokuchava, which is based in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Then there is British retail giant Selfridges. Since 2018, the upmarket department store chain has had Shipton on speed dial for a range of duties, including the development of new retail concepts and digital campaigns, visual merchandising for window displays and, most notably, dispatching her to the world’s style capitals as a roving fashion editor and digital content creator during Fashion Month. “They are pretty much like my family,” says Shipton of Selfridges. “I’m their Fashion Week editor. I cover the shows, I curate the content. I write, but more on the social side. We’re putting up [Instagram] Stories … I’m always kind of using my journalistic sense to inform as well as visually conceptualise. … I go to the showrooms, consult with the buyers a little. It’s a lot.”
Content creation is a natural fit for Shipton, who originally planned to work in fashion journalism and studied a Bachelor of Arts from Melbourne University, graduating with a major in media and communications, before later segueing into styling and art direction. No doubt adding to Shipton’s value for Selfridges as its Fashion Week ambassador is her colourful show circuit kit, which has made her a magnet for street-style photographers and helped clock up a not inconsiderable Instagram following of 72,500 fans on her @airtomyearth account.
Offset by her long, platinum blonde hair and her signature acrylic nails painted in a kaleidoscope of colours and designs, and often accompanied by her tiny chihuahua, Drippy, who she calls “My son, my sidekick”, Shipton alternates between baggy, oversized streetwear and skin-tight sexy looks, with a heavy rotation of luxury brands, notably Balenciaga. These are peppered with items from her favourite emerging names, which include London-based A Sai Ta, Mowalola Ogunlesi and KNWLS, which is designed by Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault. Her favourite accessories are her rings, while her other go-to pieces include a large Balenciaga Le Cagole bag, logo baseball caps and scores of souvenir key rings, most of which were sourced from Paris, which Shipton considers her second home. Among her most cherished items is a pair of custom, knee-high Jamie-Maree Shipton boots made by London-based emerging jewellery designer and custom bootmaker Brogan Smith, which feature collages of images of Shipton, her work and Drippy.
''I’m very much about COLOUR, about LAYERS, about TEXTURE — it’s TACTILE, it’s very much about NOT BEING SHY''
Getty Images’ growing portfolio of Shipton’s street style includes one London Fashion Week look outside KNWLS’ spring 2022 show, in which she is wearing a hot-pink trench coat and a short kilt over a pair of baggy Louis Vuitton x Supreme track pants and quilted Louis Vuitton Pillow booties. A week later in Milan, she was snapped in a baggy tan leather blazer over an acid-bright tie-dye T-shirt and Roberto Cavalli animal-print trousers.
“I’m very much about colour, about layers, about texture — it’s tactile, it’s very much about not being shy,” says Shipton. “I do and I can style without colour. Sometimes, I’m just not feeling like I want to use colour. It’s very much about my emotions. It’s about the model that I’m working with or the brand I’m working with, or the publication. And for me it’s about not being in a box. I don’t limit myself. I don’t see myself having to style one way to appease anyone. I’m just really putting myself into what I do.”
A yearning for creative freedom was the biggest driver in Shipton’s decision to leave Australia. Growing up on the Mornington Peninsula on Victoria’s south coast, she moved to Melbourne to attend university. Her Air to My Earth blog, which she wrote throughout her uni studies and had a small spin-off jewellery line, eventually attracted the attention of Briony Wright, the Australian and New Zealand editor of British fashion and lifestyle magazine i-D, which launched locally in early 2014 as an online publication. Shipton initially joined as a writer but started dabbling in styling and working with local photographers when the need arose for quality imagery to accompany the growing number of profiles she was writing on emerging Australian designers, mostly students at RMIT.
LARUICCI White Coat from Fall/Winter 2022 Collection
Buzz about Shipton began to build, with France’s Novembre magazine among the first publications to reach out to her to commission work. Options further afield in Australia, however, proved challenging. “So many people were saying, ‘You’re interesting,’ in the most condescending way, or, ‘You don’t really make much sense here,’” says Shipton. “I just felt like there was not really any support back home and there was not really anyone trying to do anything different or foster any kind of individual perspective on what styling could be or what creative direction could be or what imagery and visuals could look like. [Whereas] I had a lot of people in Europe asking me to do things, so I thought I would move myself there. Within two weeks, it went really quickly.”
''It’s about NOT being in a BOX. I don’t LIMIT myself. … I’m just really putting MYSELF into what I do''
Upon arrival in London, she swiftly replicated her success showcasing the work of students by striking up a relationship with students and recent graduates from the famed fashion school Central Saint Martins. Shipton’s work and Instagram feed are curations of buzzy new names, including the brands Isa Boulder, which Cecilia Basari and Yuli Suri design out of Bali; Paris-based Nicolas Guichard; the London-based Azerbaijani and Moldovan designer Fidan Novruzova; and Duy Tran’s Fanci Club, which is based in Vietnam. Models, too. Case in point: immediately following new Australian face Tilly Main’s international debut on Versace’s fall 2022 runway in February, Shipton was shooting her in Paris with one of her favourite collaborators, photographer Tom Blesch.
“I just always had that mindset that the fashion world should be more open,” says Shipton. “I can easily style with Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Prada … But everyone is using that, why would I just want to use the same tools as everyone else and get the same outcome? For me, it’s about giving a balance between the new and the established and showing that the new can easily fit in straight away to the industry, that they don’t need to be at a certain level to make sense or to be appealing. I’m very proud to say I helped a lot of smaller designers become way more noticed because of the platform that we were allowed to have together.”
Jamie-Maree Shipton shares a few of her favourite things and life lessons.
MY FAVOURITE PERFUME IS Balenciaga B, but they discontinued it. Now it’s Replica By The Fireplace, by Maison Margiela.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS Ognisko in London. Polish heaven. The menu changes seasonally, but the perogi is always to die for and the cherry vodka is homemade.
THE FILMS THAT HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON ME ARE the Scream movies. They are just iconic, and I watched them so young and just loved horror and the silliness of it. The fact Drew Barrymore dies in the opening scene of the first film is the icing on the cake.
MY FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S BOOK IS Rainbow Fish. It was so visually beautiful and I always wanted to be a fish growing up.
MY (NEWEST) FAVOURITE ARTIST IS Adam Parker Smith. He makes these concrete balloon sculptures, and a few seasons ago collaborated with Botter on birthday balloon bags and I just became obsessed.
MY MOST PRECIOUS FAMILY MEMENTO IS an Australian sapphire and diamond ring my dad gave my mum for her 21st birthday. I lost him recently and my mum gave it to me, and I haven’t taken it off since. He is forever with me.
MY GREATEST INSPIRATION IS colour, wherever it exists — its pairings and layers in everyday objects, clothing, books, nature. Also, Google Image Search is amazing to get lost in.
MY GREATEST PASSION IS to be passionate about, and find happiness in, all I do. That’s really my biggest goal. I never want to forget to feel good!
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE I WOULD GIVE TO MY 20-YEAR-OLD SELF IS: You don’t know what you want— go out and live until you do. Travel as much as you can.
MY BIGGEST STYLE MUSE IS everyone. I just love to see how everyone and anyone dresses. I see style in layers/colours, so I’m always so into how people dress every day. Little kids, grandmas, the ladies selling at the Sunday markets, dads at sporting events. It’s endless LOL.
IF I COULD GO BACK IN TIME, I wouldn’t want to. Let’s go to the future!
Talent: Jamie-Maree Shipton
Photography: Tom Blesch
Hair: Sayaka Otama
Makeup: Yvane Rocher.