We always envy those with a “less is more” approach to life. From the outside, it’s like having a secret recipe with one missing ingredient that you can’t quite work out. With this knowledge, life would be easier – well, definitely faster, especially when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. Stylist Ilona Hamer perfectly embodies the less is more attitude and has her routine down to a pure art form. Maybe spending an hour with her will make some of it rub off? Wishful thinking…
Let’s face it, Ilona is one of the chicest people we know. She has a timeless look that screams French gamine, and she wouldn’t look out of place in a Jean-Luc Goddard film. It’s the hair. After making the move to New York she chopped off her long locks and never looked back. “I think everyone around me freaked out more than I did when I cut it. I just cut it and was like “cool, let’s go get dinner”. This lo-fi attitude and approach to style has her on the radar of some of the best fashion companies in the world. Counting CHANEL, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Westfield, Russh and Oyster as just a few of her Australian clients, Ilona has the ability to turn something simple into something desirable.
So why New York? We get that it’s the most amazing city on earth, but what exactly is the allure for her? “Everything! It’s one gnarly city though. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows. It’s fast and harsh and real and it challenges you EVERY day and makes you happy, sad and everything in between.”
As a stylist, being in the fashion epicentre of the world definitely has its perks, and we are basically begging Ilona for shopping tips. “I love real clothes you can wear – Isabel Marant, Acne, APC… real everyday clothes. My advice is always figure out how to wear the shit out of a pair of great simple pants or jeans or a shirt first and know what makes your style yours, then go from there. You don’t need much. Just the right pieces for you.” Noted. With a selectively edited wardrobe on high rotation, we’re brought back again to “less is more, less is more…”
Another thing we learn from touring her super minimal East Village apartment is that CHANEL anything is the key to life. We’re talking fragrance, lipstick, clothing, accessories. Whatever. When asked about her most treasured item, Ilona is quick to reply. “My beautiful Chanel handbags because they just make most outfits that little bit more perfect.” Her latest acquisition – a metallic grey Boy bag – is a new favourite. “It’s not black which is a huge development for me!”
With a gym schedule that puts us to shame, Ilona also focuses on diet to keep her skin looking fresh. “I crave broccoli and greens. I love green things. It’s dorky but I do.” Citing water as the absolute holy grail, Ilona confesses she’s had good luck in the skin department. “My skin has been the same since I was young. I could pretty much wash it with dirt and it would be fine.” Thankfully we learn she uses Aesop instead.
With “moisturise, moisturise, moisturise” at the top of her list, Ilona sticks to a bare minimum when it comes to beauty products. “RMS uncover up, a little bit of brown eyeliner, an eyelash curl and then maybe a little bronzer on my cheeks.” Apparently it can be done in under four minutes, which is music to our ears. With an industry that waits for no-one, getting out the door quickly is of utmost importance and Ilona seems to have found that all-important secret ingredient.
Boasting a packed work schedule is no mean feat in the city that never sleeps, but add to that a new swimwear line, Matte Swim, launching in April. With three classic styles, it will be “chic and easy”, just like its creator. We’ll take one of each, thanks, especially if the Parisian je ne sais quoi comes with? A few other exciting projects coming up means it will be no time before she takes the Big Apple by storm. As Frank Sinatra famously put it, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”
Photographed by Soraya Zaman
Words by Lucinda Rose Constable