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:: Spotlight :: Sophia Banks-Coloma - Sydney girl becomes stylist to the stars

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

It sounds like a dream; styling some of the world's biggest stars including Kirstie Alley for ‘Dancing With The Stars - US Series’, and Kristen Chenoweth (Glee, Wicked The Musical, Broadway and new series ‘Good Christian Belles’ which is already being tipped as the biggest hit from the US in 2012).

Styling Oprah and having Blake Lively wear her own designs, but for Australian fashion icon Sophia Banks-Coloma it's all in a day's work. With ten years of fashion experience in New York, Los Angeles and Australia, Sophia is a formidable force in the fashion industry with many labelling her the Aussie Rachel Zoe.

Even though awards season has come to an end, the red carpet fashions are still shining brightly. Sophia Banks Coloma styled several ladies for Oscar night, each one standing out in designs that expressed their own personal styles while making sophisticated fashion statements. Wendi McLendon-Covey floated down the Oscar Red Carpet in a custom made, hand beaded Simin Haute Couture gown, Simon G jewels and Christian Louboutin clutch and heels. Wendi's outfit wow'ed the media and she got an avalanche of attention.

Brooke Burns looked regal in a far-east inspired Tony Ward Couture gown, Kabana earrings, Le Vian ring, Edie Parker clutch and Pollini heels. In addition, Asian inspired fashion ruled the catwalks this year at New York Fashion Week making Brooke’s look a true fashion knock out. Michelle Rodriguez turned heads with her feminine and sophisticated styles at three red carpets on Oscar night. She wore a gold Armani gown, Jimmy Choo heels and clutch to the Mercedes Benz Party and then changed into a soft, lacy black Yumi Katsura Couture gown and Christian Louboutin heels for Elton John and Vanity Fair Parties.

Sophia became known for her ability to predict what women will want to wear in six months time. She worked at Satine she launched brands such as Roland Mouret, Rodarte and was also an early champion of Acne, Pierre Hardy and Isabel Marant. This lead to being recognised as Harper's Bazaar style leader twice in one year and Vogue Australia's top fashion export, whilst also being recognised by Forbes as one of its Top Ten Undiscovered Designers on the rise in 2009.

Sophia’s style is influenced by her global travels and, with Sophia’s strong Australian roots, the Satine showroom regularly showcased Australian designers including Sass & Bide, Fleur Wood, Collette Dinnigan and Camilla and Marc. It would be safe to say that Sophia was responsible for
almost single handedly getting our Australian Designers' Collections worn and adored by Hollywood's A-List Celebrities

As well as being Co-Founder and Creative Director for Whitley Kros, Sophia spends her time consulting with other fashion lines as a creative director and stylist. She just wrapped as Costume Designer on the highly anticipated 2012 movie release Syrup, based on the Max Barry novel of the same title and starring Kellun Lutz, Amber Heard and Brittany Snow. Further to this, Sophia has just been named the head of Costume and Wardrobe on another upcoming blockbuster iLucifer.

Sophia recently dressed stars for the premiere of the highly anticipated film The Hunger Games. Styled by Sophia were Maggie Grace, Willow Shields, Dayo Okeniyi, Amandla Stenburg and Jacqueline Emerson.

I had an opportunity to ask Sophia for a few thoughts about her career.

How did you start in the business, or what was the cause of you becoming a stylist?

I finished a business degree and decided I wanted to get into fashion so I took some basic fashion course and got a job at Marcs as an assistant, I then begged and begged to get moved to the design department. I did and while I was there I started interning for a lady who was styling children's shoots. We did Vogue, Bambini and some others and there it began.

Where do you generally get your inspiration from?

From all over - film art and pop culture.

are your thoughts on colours for the upcoming seasons - northern and southern hemisphere?

Spring summer for the north - colours mint green, yellow is going to be a huge colour, plus lots of white and orange.

Fall - new runway which will also influence your fall here…. green, red and oriental yellow… velvet is going to huge. Think very opulent and rich fabrics and colours.

Your thoughts on colour blocking?

Now its print blocking - that is mixing a print with bold colour or even two prints.

Do you have a favourite, more timeless, look?

Coco Chanel pant look from the 1920s.

What major events have you worked on? the last event you worked on?

I worked with Kristen Chenoweth at the American Music Awards she hosted - we had over seven changes. I was on the side of the stage at the MGM in Las Vegas while all the greats of country music were there… amazing.

I dressed people for Oscar weekend this year including someone who presented.

I have just finished four of the cast for the film Hunger Games.

Last summer I did the costume for a movie called Syrup staring Amber Heard, Kellan Lutz, Shiloh Fernandez and Brittany Snow. It was pretty amazing - we used amazing designers such as Dior, Chole, Givenchy, Roland Mouret, etc

Who would be your main, long-standing client?

Jennifer Aspen from Party of Five, and now on the Good Christian Belles, Kristen Chenoweth or Kirstie Alley.

Who are some of the up-and-coming international designers we should watch out for?

Belle Savage, Byruk Ukan, AManda Wilmont, Yigal Azoruel and No 21

What are some of the major technological advances you've seen, and where might it head in the near future?

3D prints. For sure, 3D will be an influence on fashion.

Your favourite Australian designers and their international impact?

Collette DInnigan - I just used her for the Red Carpet of the Hunger Games. Yeojin Bae - everytime I put her on a client they talk about the fit - used her on about ten clients in the past few weeks. Sass and Bide, Ginger and Smart, Alex Perry and Camilla and Marc.

Tell us about the growth of Whitley Kros?

I would love to expand it into Australia. I'm talking with some companies about partnering down under.