Style Is A Sixth Sense
An interview with stylist, creative director, and Stance Punk & Poet, Imogene Barron.
“I think of style as a sixth sense,” says Imogene Barron, Aussie stylist cum creative director and long time collaborator and friend of Stance. “You can’t really replicate it and it can’t be taught.” This sixth sense is, perhaps, precisely what has allowed Barron to forge a career that people twice her age would see green over. Her resume is laden with fashion heavy-hitters like Dazed and Confused, Oyster and i-D Magazine and she’s styled the likes of Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, the Weeknd and Snoop Dogg to name a fair few. Barron even has made time for passion projects: she’s founder of LoveWant and cult favorite Junk magazine.
Style is intrinsic; most of the time it’s just clothes. But with Barron it’s much more than that. Her warm and laid back attitude, an amalgam of her Australian roots and California living, and effortless brand of cool beget work of the same nature. Refined yet raw, vibrant and intimate, she knows not only about being comfortable in your clothes, but in your own skin. As Barron puts it, she’s not interested in “trends or that fast, disposable approach to styling,” but finds inspiration in “real people and real imagery.” This ethos is apparent in her work. She doesn’t stage standard fashion editorials; she creates snapshots of the human experience. And this is exactly what makes Barron and her work so compelling: she’s the type of girl you want to be friends with, and not just to have access to her killer wardrobe.
"I DEFINITELY HAVE A LOVE OF CLOTHES BUT DON’T REALLY CARE TOO MUCH FOR 'FASHION."
A self-proclaimed sock fan, Barron says, “I probably have close to 15,000 pairs in storage and stashed around the globe.” Barron began working with Stance around the time she moved to Los Angeles, and is now on her third collaboration with the team. The designs for her latest collaboration, her first capsule collection, feature cheeky and blithe Australianisms like “Stay Sick” and “Heaps Cool,” something that Barron, who was designing the collection around the time of last year’s election, hoped would impart some positivity during these tenuous times.
I was able to catch Barron for a quick chat (she’s one busy woman) about life, loves and her career. And if you’re wondering, yes, it was exactly like chatting with a best friend. Heaps cool.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD AND ITS INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER.
I grew up in a very small, beautiful coastal town called Avalon in Sydney’s Northern beaches- there couldn’t be a better place to be a kid. My dad was a shipwright and played in a band so many days were spent sailing after school and dancing around on weekends watching him play at random house parties with all the grown ups. My mum had a local boutique, as did my sister which paved, my way into being interested in fashion. My godmother was an agent for photographers, and the first time I ever got an insight into what a day looked like at a photo shoot, Sylvester Stallone’s wife showed up as they were prepping a shoot at our house, and shooting a campaign on Dad’s boat. I was definitely under double digits and it was the 90’s, so shit was pretty fabulous then. I remember them all hanging out listening to music, smoking cigarettes and drinking champagne, I thought to myself, “Is this an actual job?! This is most definitely what I want to do.” Mum made me go to school that day. I hated her for at least a month.
WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?
School it wasn’t really for me, so I left when I was 15. I wanted to get out into the world and start trying to make my dream a reality. My mum always said, “You can do anything you put you’re mind to,” so that’s what I did. I started interning shortly after, and a few years later met my mentor, David Bonney, an incredible man who I was with for years. He took me under his wing, believed in me and my vision, and pushed me to be creative and a taught me how to be an all ‘round better human.
WHAT/WHO WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR INFLUENCES/INSPIRATION?
I definitely have a love of clothes but don’t really care too much for “fashion.” I don’t believe in trends and the fast, disposable approach to that world. It doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I started doing what I do because of my love of real people and real imagery. People watching anywhere in any country is more inspiring to me than anything. As far as specific style references, I love the 90s and the early 2000s, music, lots and lots of music of every kind. And imagery is also a huge influence on me, photographers like Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tilmans, Adrienne Salinger, Bruce Davidson, Nobuyoshi Araki, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Ren Hang, Boris Mikhailov, Nick Waplington, Daido Moriyama, Tierney Gearon, Viviane Sassen Ed & Deanna Templeton… to name just a very few!
YOU SEEM TO SURROUND YOURSELF WITH BEAUTIFUL, VIBRANT GIRLS, BOTH IN YOUR WORK AND YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. WOULD YOU SAY YOUR FRIENDS INFLUENCE YOU, AND HOW?
100%. I met a lot of the girls I still shoot when they were very young, including Bambi, Anja, Teresa, Staz and Hirschy, to mention a few, and they are all my dearest friends. I love watching them grow from girls into women. I am working on a series of books with them about our times and travels together. They are all so different, and I love them all for their perfections and imperfections, but mainly just for being beautiful humans both inside and out.
YOU WEAR BOTH HATS OF STYLIST AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR. DO YOU PREFER ONE OR ENJOY BOTH, IN DIFFERENT WAYS?
I have been styling for such a long time, I really enjoy both still. However, I am a little bit of a control freak so I do like to have my hand in the creative side of things these days. On the flip side, I work with a lot of amazing creative directors across the board, whose vision I completely trust and respect, as they do mine. So it’s a win-win situation.
IN THIS VAST AND EXPANDING SEA OF STYLISTS AND CREATIVES, HOW DO YOU SET YOURSELF APART? INITIALLY AND CONTINUALLY.
I have always had a fairly simple, raw aesthetic, and a similar approach to my work. Nothing should ever feel too “trying” or too “fashion," and it should always feel authentic to the individual. I think my clients know what they can expect from me; there’s an element of trust there which is extremely important. As far as evolving, it’s always good to push yourself a little out of your comfort zone. Open your eyes and look around, the world will deliver every single day.
ANYTHING YOU’RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
I am working on the series of print publications with the girls I mentioned, a polaroid zine, a new sunglass collaboration with EPØKHE and something else top secret is also in the works!
LET’S FINISH WITH THE CLASSICS. THREE DESERT ISLAND MUST-HAVES.
Music, the loves in my life, and red wine.
WHAT'S YOUR AVERAGE DAY LIKE?
There is no average day. I’ve spent about 3 weeks at my house in Los Angeles this year. I try my hardest to immerse myself in as many different cultures as possible and I’m fortunate enough to have job that allows me to travel and work with so many inspiring people. I am one very lucky human!