Before I get started I have to be honest. Heidi Middleton is one of my favorite people in the world.
I couldn’t write an article about her and not disclose this fact. She is a diamond of a woman. For 15 years she has been the co-founder and creative force behind sass & bide and having seen it up close, I can tell you she left an imprint that stretched far beyond the realm of fashion.
Now that she’s departed the label, life has changed pace.
When we visit her home in Sydney’s Palm Beach, it’s the morning before she leaves for Paris with her family to start the next chapter of her life.
We arrive expecting to see a house in disarray; removalists packing boxes, open suitcases, clothes, shoes, bags strewn across every surface. What you would ordinarily expect to see from someone who is about to upend her entire life and relocate to a foreign city.
But Heidi Middleton is far from ordinary. There is a blissful state of calm. And there’s something magical not just about her home, or about the location, but also about Heidi herself. Engaging and soflty spoken, when she talks to you, she is really talking to you, she is curious and patient and listens deeply. She is present. Truly present. It’s a rare quality in someone who has reached such heights.
While we talk, her two daughters Elke and Indi chat happily on her bed.
Family has always been the priority in her life. She tells me later (from Paris) that she remembers that day “feeling light.”
Was it hard to leave?
“I was very philosophical about the move,” Heidi says. “Everything seemed right about it. It felt as though I was moving with the current of life.”
This is the first interview Heidi has done since leaving the brand & we ask her if her newfound freedom has changed her approach to style?
“Ah yes,” she says. “Well, for the first time in 15 years I can bask in the glory of TIME.” It’s true. Heidi was always busy. Not busy – flat out. It must have felt like a 15-year sprint.
“I have had the space to nurture a new cut for my hair and have had time to shop for great vintage and new interesting labels. I can feel my style evolving… It feels cleaner, more modern but still layered, with spirit.”
One of the most gifted and prolific designers Australia has ever seen, inspiration is synonymous with Middleton. Whether it’s scouring the markets of Peru for curiosities or combing the sands for driftwood, there’s something in her that is always on the look out for the enchanting. She has that rare and wondrous gift of being able to see beauty in everything around her.
You get the feeling that Paris and her are going to get on famously. “Parisians have a no-nonsense approach to beauty and fashion. I feel they are very honest about the products they use. They don’t seem to follow hype as much as others. They are also more natural about the way they look after themselves…. They let their raw beauty rise.”
It’s impossible not to be inspired by her energy, her honesty, her philosophy and her aesthetic. You leave her presence feeling like a better version of yourself.
We hug. It breaks my heart to say goodbye. You can borrow her for a little bit Frenchies, just don’t keep her too long.
Words by Carlie Fowler, photographed by Ben Sullivan