Possibly the most admirable thing about Stevie Dance is that she’s managed to stay so nonchalant while building a name for herself in the notoriously tough fashion world. Starting out as an intern in the very first days of RUSSH magazine, she worked her way up to the top. Since leaving her position as editor of the publication, Dance has relocated to live in the thick of the fashion-sphere in New York and has been working as a freelance stylist for the likes of American Vogue and POP as well as a contributing editor at Oyster.
In a way, Dance’s career trajectory has taken the opposite direction to that of today’s wannabe stylists and fashion writers. Rather than starting a blog with the aim of turning it into styling jobs, Dance took the old fashioned route of intern (at the tender age of 18), only to graduate to the role of editorial assistant, then fashion editor and finally editor at RUSSH. It was only this year that she ventured onto the internet and launched Shop Ghost, an online zine of sorts, which she runs and updates regularly with the help of a trusty assistant. Dance herself takes most of the pictures and takes care to curate interviews with industry insiders alongside fashion tips and covetable items.
Shop Ghost reflects the constructed though nonchalantly messy aesthetic that has put Dance’s brand of styling on the fashion map, something Dance sees as inherently Australian. “Obviously in Australia, you’ve got the different way people from Melbourne dress, versus Sydney, or Perth or Brisbane,” she says. “But in general, Australian style has a distinctive look and I think it’s reflective of a mixture of the independent designers here and the weather.
“Maybe there’s no one word for it, but when you see it, you know someone’s got that ‘Australian style’. Maybe they’re wearing their hair in a certain way or pairing ballet flats in another way.”
In town fulfilling her duties as fashion ambassador for GPO, Dance reflects on the differences between her adopted home of New York and Australia. “I love the Australian fashion industry – I think it really nurtures independent designers and the new generation of talent. And I think people here also don’t only nurture local talent, but they also invest in it, which is really important,” she says.
“Meanwhile in New York, for all its good taste and history in fashion, most people are buying into high street labels. I think it’s really important to support the individual voices of the designers here; it creates the unique fashion environment that we have here in Australia.”
Despite her distinctive approach to style – or perhaps because of it – Dance is no stranger to the demands of the different publications she works for. “Obviously different magazines have different styles and briefs for the editorials they want,” she says. “When I’m styling for Vogue the aesthetics and the sensibilities are different to when I’m styling for Oyster. It’s all about the readers and ensuring that your vision as a stylist honours what the reader wants to read and what they want to invest in.”
That’s not to say that she’s about to silence her own creative voice. “At the end of the day, it’s also about what the stylist has a particular eye for,” she says. “It’s about a merging of those two aspects.”