Sophia Banks Coloma has taken hold of the fashion industry, with over 10 years experience as a stylist, designer and trend-setter. Our very own Aussie girl, Sophia has been dubbed as our version of Rachel Zoe and she is currently making waves in the US.
We spoke to Sophia to learn about her background, and used the opportunity to find out about the latest trends:
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
My grandmother loved to sew and so she introduced to the pleasure of making things. I think I always loved clothes, I remember being in France at 16 and insisting on my parents letting me try on a Chanel suit.
During my teen years although I loved fashion, I decided to go into an area that would help me “make money” – so I enrolled to study a Business degree. That was great, but after a stint in a consulting firm I knew my passion laid in fashion and film.
Following studying film and fashion, I was able to combine the two into a job as an Assistant Designer. I then moved to Los Angeles and worked for the design label McGinn – after about 2 years there, I partnered in the very successful store, Satine, and expanded that business. In 2007, I launched the fashion label Whitley Kros which I am still involved with along with styling. I’ve now reached a place where I’m styling, designing and working on my first film – I feel like it’s all happening!
Where is the most exciting place your career has taken you so far?
I’m fortunate to have travelled so much with my career, from factories in India, to a company that flew me to Italy to design shoes, to now being on a movie set in New York – all amazing places.
Tell us a little bit about your fashion background?
I have worked on all sides which is great. I used to own a store which enabled me to see every-side from buying to retail. I think retail experience is very valuable as you can also understand what sells.
I have also designed over 14 collections for my own line, collaborated with Urban Outfitters and Anthropolgie, designed shoes, styled many people for magazine shoots and the red carpet. Now I can also add costume designer for a movie to the list!
What is a piece of fashion advice that every woman should live by?
Wear your clothes, don’t let them wear you. I always make sure my clients feel comfortable in their clothes and feel like they look good – if you don’t feel great, then ditch the outfit.
You have styled a range of celebrities, who has been the most fun to work with?
Ohhhh it is so hard to say, I love people who are adventurist and willing to try anything. I have had a lot of fun with Kirstie Alley, as she’s so amazing and really lets me push her style in a whole new direction.
Recently working with Amber Heard on the new movie I’m costume designer for has been heaps of fun – she is so beautiful. Also Kellan Lutz- he had so many great ideas for his character in the same movie. We had a lot of fun making him very cool.
What are you currently working on?
Right now as we speak I am working on a film in New York, and styling at the same time. The Movie I am working on is ‘Syrup’, based on the international best seller book by Max Barry. The film stars Amber Heard (Rim Diaries), Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Britany Snow and Shiloh Fernandez.
The Producer is Marrie M. Osbourne (Lord of the Rings, Matrix). This is a huge fashion movie, similar to Devil Wears Prada, and takes place around the world of marketing. The role Amber plays is the model of perfection in terms of perfect fashion, looks and everything else.
We are working with designers such as Roland Mouret, J Mendel, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Chirstian Loubitins, Amanda Wakely, Cartier, Van Cleef and Arples to a name a few. It’s a very exciting project to be a part of.
Any fashion predictions for the Australian spring / summer season?
Lots of white clothes in all different shades.
Yellow is the new pink, the new must have colour to add to your wardrobe is yellow. You can add a yellow shirt to jeans, even throw a bright colour blazer like a green or purple over it for some stylish colour blocking. Another great look is a yellow pleated skirt teamed with a basic tee and denim jacket.
I also think wearing red clothing with bright red lipstick is going to be a hot look. The parker coat will keep making a comeback and the ‘hiking’ look (e.g. boots) will be influencing fashion.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From all over; the streets, travel, Art shows and movies. I think a lot of it is Pop culture, I love seeing how people interrupt trends and how society evolves.
Who are your favourite Australian designers right now?
Daniel Patrick, Dion Lee, Scanlan and Theodore, Camilla and Marc, Ellery and Manning and Cartell.
Do you prefer classic pieces or trends?
I like both, I think having your own style is important and working with what suits you.
There are some certain classics that are always in style, Stripes, Leopard, Blazers, Ballet Flats and Chanel 5 bags.
I love a blazer – always have and always will, so items like that I always buy. You can wear it with pants or even over an evening dress, which is the style right now.
But I will also buy other more trend items as well. Overall though it is best to build a wardrobe with classics first and then spend a little money on trend clothes each season.
Tell us one funny thing we wouldn’t know about you?
I am constantly mis-pronouncing words – I have managed to get away with it in the USA for a long time, by saying that’s how we do it in Australia.
What’s next for Sophia Banks – Coloma?
I have just finished my first movie, Syrup, which has been amazing. Being able to work with designers such as Chloe, Dior and Roland Mouret has been incredible. So I think more movies will be sure to come.
I also want to collaborate on an evening wear collection; I can never find enough red carpet dresses.
What does being a woman mean to you?
There is nothing that touches you like being a mother, it is emotional and empowering. It drives you to work harder, love more and be a better person.