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My Australian Life: Kirsty McBeath

As told to Ros Reines

Australia’s celebrity gun stylist, Kirsty McBeath once produced runway shows but pivoted to styling after she drove a Sex & The City costume designer around during one Melbourne Fashion Festival.

It was fashionista heaven as they took in the shows, the showrooms and the after-party escapades. The experience inspired her to explore another side of her own creativity.

Since then Kirsty has dressed everyone from Nicole Kidman to Elsa Pataky, and Elle Macpherson.

At last year’s Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival, she created an outfit for a man who is the epitome of cool - Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis - the singer and songwriter son of actor Daniel Dan-Lewis. Together they raised the stakes of men’s fashion at the track. Some women are still recovering from the Gabriel moment.

Flemington race course is usually Kirsty McBeath’s ground zero at this time of the year but thanks to Covid, there will little rubbing of shoulders with celebs in the fabled Birdcage. However racing fashion lives on.

Some people are getting dressed up to watch the races from home.

It’s an act of defiance, I suppose. They’re getting dressed in head-to-toe raceway and calling in the caterers. It’s a similar trend to Hollywood Award Ceremonies when you see some nominees in ball gowns and makeup being filmed from their homes, while others are content to greet viewers sitting on the couch in their activewear. Spring racing at home will also be played out on Instagram and Tik Tok.

Australia’s milliners are still hard at work.

There’s some beautiful millinery out there at the moment with lots of feathers and extreme jewels on head bands. They’re also doing big hats - milliners are really pushing their creative boundaries because, well this is no time to play it safe.

Covid has made us rethink our approach to fashion.

There’s some very different fashion rules and behaviour. It’s all about feeling good in your skin with some extreme dressing thrown into the mix. The pandemic has also taught us to take another look at fashion, to dress ethically, buy locally and support local designers and stores. It’s also about being kinder to each other and nourishing our communities

My childhood did not prepare me for a life in fashion.

I grew up in regional Victoria in a tiny town called Lake Charm, around 296 kilometres from Melbourne. We were surrounded by farmlands and lakes, so there was lots of water sports but not many fashion shows. However my mother was very creative. I would tell her what I wanted to wear and she would make it for me.

Mum taught me to be resourceful. This comes in handy when I’m asked to dress someone at the 11th hour.

Once I was asked to dress Kim Cattrall at 5pm, the night before the races, as she didn’t like the outfits that had been chosen for her by someone else. They had made the mistake of dressing her as her character, Samantha in Sex & The City. It was too risqué and she didn’t feel right. My number one rule in styling anyone is that they should feel comfortable enough to look confident in their outfit. Kim did the next day.

It’s also fun dressing men for the races.

With Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, I did a 3-piece suit including a wide legged pant . We draped the jacket over his shoulders and ruffled up his shirt sleeves with arm bands. There was a hat in a contrasting colour and that outfit, set off by his necklaces was everything.

My two favourite women to work with are Australian golden girls and international models, Ashley and Jessica Hart.

It’s definitely a collaboration, we talk a lot beforehand but in the end they leave it to me. They trust me and that’s what great styling is all about - an ability to accurately read people’s personalities.


Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media.

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