Meeting Gillian, you'll likely find yourself quietly mesmerized. Beautiful and authentic, it's her expansive creative mind that draws you in.
She's a rarity. A stylist whose central concern is for the sustainability of the industry, who enacts on this beyond a caption on social media. Gillian drives towards this purpose and makes art of it, which is why she is one of the creative women who inspires us.
A constant traveler, Gillian finds home almost anywhere - but for now she has settled on London. So we decided to venture further afield than New York's boroughs and cross the Atlantic. After a day on set styling, Gillian took a moment to capture these portraits and fill us in on her morning rituals, utilitarian style and what it means to rejoice in the way things are.
How do you start your mornings?
My mornings are quite relaxing. I try to think of three things I'm grateful for before I get out of bed, this helps give me perspective and sets my mood and energy for the day. I have my own morning flow that I do at home, and a breathing exercise which I find very clearing and energizing. I've also recently fallen in love with a delicious morning tea called Milk Oolong, which has slowly replaced my morning coffee.
As a stylist, how do you approach getting dressed each morning?
I don’t think about it too much. My wardrobe is quite simple, classic, a bit boyish and a bit Parisian. I live in mostly jeans, men's pants, tees, shirts, waistcoats and sweaters. Or, in the summer, I love to wear dresses. I update these things as I go along and I wear a lot vintage these days. So, in a way, it’s quite spontaneous.
And how far has that spontaneity taken you, sartorially?
Perhaps the classicism shows a sense of insouciance, a nonchalance in my style as a signature - whereas I’m more spontaneous when it comes to vintage shopping. So, I guess it adds character to my style.
Despite the spontaneity, would you say you have a uniform?
I'm drawn to pieces that are quite utilitarian so my wardrobe has a lot of practicality to it. I look for quality and innovation in the cut or fabrication – my choices are also based on longevity.
Day to day, my style has a classicism to it, with more fanciful pieces dappled in to make it more personal... Such as luxury, utilitarian pieces from Céline or timeless menswear-inspired pieces from Haider Ackermann that are so genuine and unconditional, they easily transition from day to night.
And so what is style, to you?
An allure, a confidence - and a strong sense of self.
Tell us what you're wearing in these images.
I’m wearing my favorite Frances de Lourdes pieces – two of the black tank tops, one worn with my Céline grey wool pants and the other with a pair of black Saint Laurent jeans. The oversized white tee I wore with black Ann Demeulemeester trousers.
What inspired the simplicity of this shoot?
Being on and off set, taking pictures. Dance, movement. Space. Me.
Some were taken in London, some in New York... And you're originally from Australia. How have these places inspired you in different ways?
I call these three places home and each place inspires me very differently. I travel a lot which can be unsettling and tiring, but I actually find space in these moments to connect with myself and really enjoy being alone. Right now I'm trying to travel less for work and settle in London for a while. Being here, I appreciate the feeling of anonymity and the city fuels so much creativity for me. It's the base that works best for my partner and I.
NYC will always have a huge space in my heart – I feel much more connected with people and have lots of great friends there, and continue to make new ones all the time. It's filled with strangers who are eager to connect and has a strong sense of community.
Australia is about family for me, and I feel lucky to be Australian, with its beautiful nature and culture.
How has each place influenced your style?
I didn't own a coat before moving to London. Outside of Australia, you get to experience the seasons and weather cycles more intensely. I guess this alone has influenced the utilitarian side of my wardrobe, which is not just super practical, but has become a strong part of my style.
What brought you to New York originally?
I came to visit a friend in 2004 and fell in love with the city straight away. The NYC I first met is so different to the city today. It's still one of my favorite places, but my feelings towards the city itself started to change when I was living there. The capitalist mindset... and I don't think America supports its people enough. It takes from its people more than it gives back.
How do both cities, London and New York, drive you?
The energy, the pace, the constant movement of time, space and people.
Do you relate more to music or art? Why?
Music. I'm inspired by movement as an expression and I'm more sensitive to the emotional and personal journal of listening to music and sound. So many significant moments in my life are attached to songs, so you never quite escape or forget the memory of a time.
Can you tell us about your personal project, Modernsans?
Modernsans is an online space offering a curation of timeless fashion investments. The idea is to curate art/object and home into this experience. Second to oil, fashion and textiles are the most polluting industry in the world, so Modernsans is part of a movement to support sustainability, encouraging and educating consumers. By being quality conscious in how we consume, we can reduce fashion's environmental impact.
What's the creative process for sourcing and curating pieces for Modernsans?
The first drop came from a personal perspective. I went for pieces that I felt were timeless and that actually had a story behind them – a story linked to the collection, the original owner, or the collector.
And you shoot all in black and white?
I was inspired by the empowering essence of Herb Ritts’ imagery and capturing freedom in mood and movement. Black-and-white photography is potent and has an iconic, time-transcending quality.
How does creating, styling, fulfill you?
As a stylist, you have an opportunity to be a voice that can inspire and empower others to not only feel and look good, but also find their own unique sense of self and personal expression via personal style. I think it's important to feel empowered in your own choices and find strength in the way you hold yourself in the world.
What type of work are you most drawn to?
Creation and collaboration... working with other artists and creators of things and/or ideas. And to just be close to the process and hopefully inspire others to dream and create fulfills me. One of my favorite things is working on shows when you’re given the opportunity to work with a designer and their team throughout the process of the season.
If you were to follow any other career path, what would it be?
There are a few things I am taking some time to explore… but eventually I want to take a path that works on a more soul to soul level.
Where will life take you next?
On an adventure, one lifetime to the next.
The best advice for life?
Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. Lao Tzu.
Self-portraits by Gillian Wilkins
Text by Neada Jane