stylist jenni booth

There have been many moments during Jenni Booth's career when she has had to stop and appreciate the life she has carved out for herself. Helping to steer the PR side of Princess Diana's appearance at the Victor Chang Ball. Styling actor Kiefer Sutherland. Working on catalogues for the likes of David Jones, Sheridan and KAS, especially when the location is somewhere like Italy or Mexico. However, setting up an online prop shop, and installing a styling assistants database whereby they can upload their details to get work, has been equally rewarding.

Which five words best describe you? Quiet achiever, perfectionist, unpretentious, adventurous! It’s funny, the five words other people use to describe you are so different to the five words you would use to describe yourself. (Try it!)

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I was studying a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) at UTS. All of the students were asked to dress the models backstage for a fashion parade for the very infamous ‘Cointreau Ball’, which was being hosted by MODE magazine. This was possibly the most exciting thing I had ever been a part of at that point in my life, the energy in the room was electrifying. I worked my butt off and then asked to do work experience for the magazine. I was later offered the position as Fashion Assistant to Grant Pearce for the mag. I was faced with a very tough decision to give away my uni degree or take the plunge into my styling career. I took the plunge and have never looked back. I worked alongside Grant in various rolls for the next six years and he taught me by throwing me in the deep end and letting me swim. There were times when I thought I might drown and he would simply say “Don’t you dare cry, take a deep breath and get out there!” I loved him for that.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To take a deep breath and get on with it.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I guess it would be that I get paid to do what I love. I have been fortunate to travel to some of the most spectacular places in the world and work with some amazingly talented people. Hard to pinpoint just one so here are my Top 5 career highs:
1. From my PR days, attending the Victor Chang Ball alongside Princess Diana. She was radiant in real life (my job was to monitor a particular photographer and be sure he only took photos of her when she had the first dance with William Hurt. The paparazzi negotiations that went on surrounding that lady were mind blowing.)
2. Styling Kiefer Sutherland one hour before his flight back to the US (Kiefer hates to fly, so he downed an entire bottle of vodka whilst we were shooting, let's just say he was pretty calm by the time he was ready to board the plane.)
3. Traveling to the Almafi Coast and also to Prague for David Jones shoots with Megan Gale. Megan is an absolute joy to work with and a mega star in Italy, we would get mobbed in the street, it was a thrill to be part of.
4. Being chased down the Grand Canal in Venice by the paparazzi whilst styling Miranda Kerr in a gondola for David Jones shoot. A very surreal moment.
5. And just last month I got to work in my “most wanted” destinatio: Mexico. I styled the Summer 2012 KAS Catalogue there and was so lucky to shoot and stay in some most amazing places.

Also, after years of styling and collecting a garage full of props I decided last year to open them up to other stylists to use, so I set up Prop Hire Online. One of the things I would get most enquiries about from other stylists was if I could recommend a good assistant. This prompted me to set up the Find an Assistant Stylist List on the site, the first of its kind. This is something I am very proud of as it gives assistants a platform to get started on in this industry. It can be very hard for assistants to know where to start. This has now given them a place to be found.

What’s been your best decision? In the early stages of my career I veered slightly off path into the area of PR; this was mainly due to the fact that I was working alongside Grant Pearce. I realised that what made Grant and I work so well together was that I was the ‘behind-the-scenes, pull-it-together’ girl and he was the ‘front man’. When it was time for me to go out on my own, it meant me stepping into the spotlight of PR. I landed a great job as PR manager for a fashion label and discovered how much I hated PR! I realised that being at the top of your game is not great if you are playing the wrong game. It was at this point I made the scariest decision of all, which was to give up a well-paying, prestigious position in PR to become a freelancer! Seventeen years on, I am still a freelance stylist and have a wonderful list of regular clients that I work for.

Who inspires you? My sister! I am the stylist, but she is the most stylish person I know, I love her!

What are you passionate about? My husband, my kids and my garden!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Frida Kahlo - I recently went to Mexico for a job and fell in love with her art and her life story. What a woman!

What dream do you still want to fulfill? It is actually a joint dream with my husband: to travel the world with the MotoGP circuit, he watches motorbikes race, I shop!

What are you reading? The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. An oldie but a goody.

images courtesy of jenni booth; (photographers from top: david mushegain, paul westlake, troyt coburn, michael omm)