MECCA MUSE

KIT WILLOW: DESIGNER, MOTHER AND CHAMPION OF SUSTAINABLE FASHION

KIT WILLOW IS AN APOSTLE OF ETHICAL DESIGN WITH LEGIONS OF FANS FOR HER FIERCE VISION AND SOPHISTICATED AESTHETIC. THE MEMO CAUGHT UP WITH THE SUSTAINABLE STYLE ARBITER AND HER DAUGHTER, MISIA, AT THEIR LEAFY SYDNEY HOME.

London has been calling for Kit Willow, the highly-regarded, Sydney-based designer behind fashion brand KITX. Earlier this year, Willow was invited to show her sustainable and sophisticated confections at Buckingham Palace, as part of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange for artisans in the British Commonwealth nations. As if that wasn’t prestigious enough, Willow also recently launched her brand at iconic UK department store Selfridges, which selected only five designers for its Bright New Things capsule, an edit of fashion in the ethical sphere. Willow, you might say, is having a moment.

Now in her 40s, and a mother to Rocco, 7, and Misia, 11, Willow still has the moxie of a fashion graduate. In contrast, her personal style and designs have always had a relaxed ease and a poetic fluidity. That pared-back approach extends to her beauty regime, too. It’s all about effective skin care, low-fi makeup and seriously beautiful scents. At The Memo shoot, at Willow’s stylish home, we discovered that Misia is a beauty junkie in-the-making with a makeup wardrobe to rival her mother’s fashion closet. So, naturally, the question arose: What beauty advice does she hope to pass on to her daughter? Read on to find out.

TM: Are you excited about the global momentum behind sustainability in fashion?
KW:“Absolutely! I felt like it would end up happening because it has to for our survival. There’s still a long way to go, however, and the more solutions there are with fabrics and packaging, the better. I certainly feel that there are more solutions now than when I first started designing [in the early 2000s]. For example, recycled sequins from PVC bottles—we’ve finally got them! There are solutions that we’ve been looking for from the beginning and they’re popping up all the time now which is really exciting.”

What is the thinking behind your current spring summer collection?
“It’s designed to make women feel really empowered, sensual and uplifted. The idea being you can feel either rock and roll, but you could also wear these pieces in a boardroom. This season we did a lot of backless shapes with amazing hand-woven textiles and beautiful silks. A favourite is a halter neck dress in a hand-knotted silk created by artisans in Bengal—it feels amazing on. A chartreuse yellow pops up throughout the collection and I was inspired after seeing that amazing French silk velvet fabric. When I saw it I thought, ‘Oh my god, that’s something you would discover in a vintage shop and treasure forever.’”

What’s been your proudest moment with KITX of late?
“Generally, I’m so happy with the space that KITX is in at the moment. The Buckingham Palace experience was exciting because fashion is reliant on so many people for it to work, and I think it’s important to shine a light on the suppliers and make sure they’re looked after.”

Who is your ultimate muse?
“Definitely Emma Watson. I loved seeing her on the red carpet wearing that one-shoulder look. She’s always supportive and calls out our products. She’s very much a perfect KITX woman: super smart, cool, works hard and not selfie-obsessed in an era when she could be.”

Does anyone else inspire you at the moment?
“I’m currently reading artist Marina Abramovic’s autobiography Walk Through Walls: A Memoir. I’m absolutely obsessed with her. In this book she’s open, real and modern and I’m feeling very connected to her! She’s all about new ways of performance art and I’m at the point in the book where she’s just finished her famous exhibition, The Artist is Present, at MoMA—and I’m loving that idea around the power to look another human in the eyes and just connect with them. We so rarely do that. Amazing. She’s so chic, too.”

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When it comes to beauty, what is your go-to look?
“I prefer light makeup because I like my skin to breathe and because it’s quick! I like the Chantecaille Just Skin tinted moisturiser. I scribble on a bronze or black liner that’s easy to smudge, (Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Lionfish or By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Bronze Moon) and doesn’t need to be perfect. I usually do my mascara in the car on the way to work when I’ve stopped at the traffic lights, and I’ve been using Chantecaille Faux Cils forever. Dr. Lipp balm is the best. If I have an event in the evening I’ll add a little liquid blush with the rose-coloured Perricone MD No Blush Blush [I-022042], it’s incredibl e and you don’t need much, and Hourglass peachy-nude liquid lipstick.”

Talk us through the products you use in your daily skin care routine?
“I love everything Dermalogica and I have a very simple routine: the first thing I put on my skin in the morning is the Skin Smoothing Cream, it’s rich and delicious, and leaves my skin feeling beautiful. It doesn’t have a scent and, generally, I don’t like anything on my skin with a strong scent. I use Essential Cleansing Solution, and every so often the Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque. To be honest, I wish I did this more.”

Do you like to book in regular facials or any other skin treatments?
“When I need a boost and have the time I’ll head into a clinic for a Dermalogica facial. And occasionally I’ll book in with the incredible Eva Karpati in Double Bay for an IPL photo rejuvenation facial treatment. It’s the one that targets pigmentation and evens out skin tone and afterwards it looks and feels like brand new baby skin. I have redness around the eye area and it’s really helped with that.”

What fragrances do you wear?
“I wear Lily by Comme Des Garcons every day and have been for a really long time. Le Labo Santal 33 is a new one for me. It’s very beautiful and I save that for when I’m going out. I also love finding new fragrances when I’m travelling, so that whenever you wear them again they instantly take you back to that holiday and remind you of those happy memories.”

What beauty advice have you passed on to your daughter Misia?
“Perhaps, if anything, I’ve told her about the importance of SPF. She’s only 11, she’s only a little thing, yet she’s obsessed with makeup. She has drawers and drawers of products—I can’t believe it! Some advice that I hope to pass on will be around eating well, drinking loads of water, exercise and making sure I instil healthy habits. My own mother was very natural in her approach to beauty, so I think one thing that I may have said is to avoid heavy foundation, and most importantly, not to cover up her freckles.”

Does anyone stand out from your recent London trip?
“I met Naomi Campbell at the Buckingham Palace event and saw her later at the after-party. I’ve never seen more beautiful skin in my life. She glowed, and it didn’t look like she was wearing anything on her face. No glitter or powder. It just looked like clean, beautiful skin and she’s nearly 50 years old.”

Interview by Louisa De Kievit
Photography by Bec Howell
Makeup by Jen Horsley
Hair by Luana Coscia
September 2018

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