Ready to ware

Af­ter walk­ing away from the helm of fash­ion mag­a­zine Harper’s Bazaar, Kel­lie Hush speaks to Stel­lar about branch­ing out into a new project

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Photograph­y STEVEN CHEE Styling KELLY HUME In­ter­view SA­MAN­THA SELINGER-MOR­RIS

Af­ter walk­ing away as ed­i­tor-in-chief of fash­ion mag­a­zine Harper’s Bazaar, Kel­lie Hush opens up about the less glam­orous as­pects of her old life and her new ven­ture.

For some­one who has shim­mied on­stage with Jen­nifer Hud­son in Brook­lyn and sipped cham­pagne along­side Charlize Theron at a sun­set Chris­tian Dior show in Cal­i­for­nia, Kel­lie Hush, 45, is re­mark­ably will­ing to talk about the less pleas­ant as­pects of work­ing in the fash­ion in­dus­try.

“It made me feel sick and anx­ious,” the former ed­i­tor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar re­calls, as she talks to Stel­lar about the day one of the most pow­er­ful agents in Hol­ly­wood threat­ened her over the phone, just as she was pick­ing up her daugh­ter from day care. “He said to me, ‘You will never work with any of my clients ever again.’” Her crime, ac­cord­ing to the agent: drop­ping an ar­ranged cover with his client, a prom­i­nent Aus­tralian ac­tress.

It was far from an empty threat; the Hol­ly­wood heavy­weight’s client ros­ter reads like the front row of an Academy Awards

cer­e­mony. “The list goes on and on,” says Hush, smooth­ing her vin­tage Ba­len­ci­aga dress as she sits down with Stel­lar at home and re­calls the con­fronta­tion from her pre­vi­ous life.

It was far from the only time Hush was left fum­ing in her 20-plus years as a fash­ion jour­nal­ist. She’s been stood up for in­ter­views by the likes of Bella Ha­did and Kris­ten Stewart, and been urged by the name­sake de­sign­ers of Dolce & Gabbana to re­move a story from her mag­a­zine’s web­site about of­fen­sive com­ments they’d made about same-sex mar­riage.

“I don’t miss that side of it,” she says, lean­ing back in her din­ing room chair and con­sid­er­ing the egos she had to jug­gle and ap­pease. “It’s like look­ing af­ter chil­dren. There are many times you just get off the phone and go, ‘What the f*ck? The sh*t I’ve got to deal with.’ Th­ese are pre­cious people that are sur­rounded by ‘yes’ people, so…”

It may be a sur­prise to hear such hon­esty from some­one who – un­til last Au­gust, when she left Harper’s Bazaar af­ter six years – dwelled at the up­per ech­e­lons of an in­dus­try within which she com­mands great re­spect. “She is a very par­tic­u­lar combo of great taste and the in­nate abil­ity to get things done,” says fel­low Aus­tralian Laura Brown, now based in New York where she is the ed­i­tor-in-chief of US InStyle mag­a­zine.

But Hush’s ir­ri­ta­tion with all that en­ti­tle­ment dove­tails with a ca­reer change – and a de­ci­sion to start her own de­cid­edly

demo­cratic brand, fast-fash­ion ac­ces­sories line The Way, which has just launched on­line, with five bricks-and­mor­tar stores to come. It of­fers on-trend ac­ces­sories – some 200 bags and 600 pieces of jew­ellery, in­clud­ing styles seem­ingly in­spired by the de­sign­ers Hush has hob­nobbed with – but at Sports­girl prices.

“I re­ally want to talk to mass Aus­tralia,” says Hush. “I want to make re­ally great style ac­ces­si­ble to all women, not just a re­ally small [seg­ment].”

She is also mark­ing a re­turn to her roots. Long be­fore Hush in­ter­viewed Gisele Bünd­chen in Cuba (af­ter a Chanel show in 2016), she was just a girl from Can­berra who at­tended gov­ern­ment schools, and for whom a trip to Tar­get for a de­sired jumper – one she had to put on lay-by – was a splurge. “I can re­mem­ber Tar­get be­ing the big­gest thing in my life when I was young… it was ‘Tar-jay’. You know, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money.”

Still, one won­ders how she feels about giv­ing up a job that gave her ac­cess to per­sonal de­sign heroes, such as Gucci’s cre­ative di­rec­tor Alessan­dro Michele. “I will miss the glam­our,”

ad­mits Hush, adding she had “a lit­tle bit of FOMO” dur­ing this year’s Chanel show at Paris Fash­ion Week. Still, she says, “I’m very good at mov­ing on.” Re­tail is a risky move, and fast fash­ion is not im­mune from its dan­gers, as ev­i­denced by UK gi­ant Top­shop’s trou­bled stint in Aus­tralia. Asked why she de­cided to take on the chal­lenge of bricks and mor­tar, Hush replies in an un­flap­pable tone: “We know from our com­peti­tors that there are still people shop­ping in shop­ping cen­tres. You just need to cre­ate a good ex­pe­ri­ence, which is what we’ll be do­ing.” To wit, the walls sur­round­ing her goods – among them el­e­gant faux-croc totes and cir­cu­lar bags with gold wristlets – will be painted with her per­sonal fash­ion tips.

Hush de­vel­oped The Way over three years and has a busi­ness part­ner – as well as a his­tory of turn­ing con­tentious moves into suc­cess. Years ago, while a re­porter at Who mag­a­zine, her ed­i­tor told her, “You know, your ca­reer will be over if

you go and work at InStyle.”

“In fact, my ca­reer took off af­ter that job,” says Hush. “So… yeah.” As for that threat­en­ing agent, she stuck to her guns – “I wouldn’t be bul­lied” – and sub­se­quently landed some of his clients for her cov­ers by work­ing around him.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers re­gard her lat­est move as sim­i­larly gutsy. “I thought it was bad-ass,” Brown tells Stel­lar. “Pub­lish­ing is chal­leng­ing, but it’s also easy to rest on your lau­rels, float­ing around to fash­ion shows and go­ing on trips. It says a lot about Kel­lie that she had other pri­or­i­ties.”

Among them, namely, are the chance to call her own shots and build a busi­ness from scratch for her fam­ily – hus­band David Bugg and their daugh­ters, Amelia, 13, and Lola, 10, who she hopes will even­tu­ally work with her. “I love pub­lish­ing, but ul­ti­mately you work for a big cor­po­rate and it’s out of your con­trol. I wanted to re­ally build some­thing for my­self, and I think why I ended up in re­tail is that, at the end of the day, I love fash­ion.”

The Way is now avail­able at the­way.com.au.

“I want to make re­ally great style ac­ces­si­ble to all women, not just a re­ally small [seg­ment]”

KEL­LIE WEARS Tory Burch top, (02) 9136 3900; Paris Ge­or­gia skirt, shop. paris­ge­or­gia store.com; her own jew­ellery and watch (worn through­out)

(from top) Kel­lie Hush in her Syd­ney ware­house in March pre­par­ing for the launch of her ac­ces­sories line The Way; with Gisele Bünd­chen in 2016; with her

hus­band David Bugg and their daugh­ters Amelia (left) and Lola at Dis­ney­land last year.

KEL­LIE WEARS Louis Vuit­ton top and pants, au.louisvuit­ton.com

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