Sign in/Register

In the home with one of Australia’s most in-demand stylists, Marina Didovich


With her impeccable taste and impressive portfolio, Sydney-based freelance fashion stylist Marina Didovich has been an unstoppable force for decades. But the fulfilment she’s derived from her latest role is on another level entirely.

Photography by Steven Chee

As one of Australia’s most in-demand fashion stylists, Marina Didovich is used to calling the shots. So it’s surprising to hear her preface our phone call with the caveat that she will have to call me back if her boss surfaces. “He’s currently sleeping, so if he wakes up, I’ll have to go and feed him,” she says, as it dawns on me that she’s referring to her baby boy, Cash.

The longed-for son of Sydney-based Didovich and her fashion photographer husband, Steven Chee, Cash was born at Christmastime following a hellish eight-year fertility journey. “I wasn’t sure I was going to talk about this, but I think it’s important,” says Didovich, the trepidation in her voice just discernible beneath the resolve as she hints at the heartbreak the ostensibly picture perfect couple – whose stylish Palm Springs wedding was featured in the pages of Vogue Australia – endured off-camera for the better part of a decade.

Marina wears AJE dress and Bottega Veneta heels. Sarah Ellison chair.

“I’ve never talked about it before,” she says. “Obviously I have with friends and family, but not at all publicly. It still feels like such a taboo subject. People need to talk about it and be aware of it though, because it happens to so many couples, and it helps to know you’re not alone.”

There’s a pause, and then, “It’s nothing to be ashamed about, either. One of the most comforting things, before I got pregnant with Cash and I was really down and out about it all, Steven said to me, ‘You know, this is just our story, and one day we’ll have a beautiful baby and we’ll look back on this tough road and see that it was taking us to where we are now.’” And it’s so true, I do now look back on all those awful things we went through, and think if it weren’t for all of that, we wouldn’t have this perfect little boy today.”

Florence & Fortitude dress and Bottega Veneta heels

A well-meaning cliche to be used with caution around anyone struggling through tough circumstances, the notion of having ‘faith in the timing of the universe’ was perhaps a comfort to the couple due to the role serendipity had already played in their relationship. They met at a resort in Fiji in 2007. Didovich was there with CLEO magazine, on a job that had come within a stiletto’s spike of being cancelled, and Chee was shooting for Shop Til You Drop.

He was a Melburnian based in Sydney, she an Aucklander from a close-knit Croatian family. They fell in love, did long-distance for two years, then Didovich joined Chee across the ditch where both their careers could flourish.

Marina wears Viktoria & Woods top and pants and Dinosaur Designs bangle; Cash wears Marlow & Mae bloomers, H&M socks and Gucci trainers.

Professionally, the move indeed paid off. But of all the factors that contributed to their fertility struggles, Didovich believes her own stress levels were a key culprit. “My job is incredibly stressful. And I’m a yes-person, not a no-person. I find it really hard to turn down work, so I’d always be adding more to my plate when I should’ve been taking it away, and that definitely didn’t help.”

Having resolved that if she ever did become pregnant she would immediately cut her work right back, Didovich in fact unlocked a new layer of anxiety, fretting about who this would hypothetically let down. Ultimately though, she needn’t have worried.

AJE dress and Bottega Veneta heels. Coco Republic side table and rug and Sarah Ellison couch.

In another serendipitous turn of events, two weeks after Didovich discovered she was pregnant with Cash, COVID hit Australia, the country went into lockdown, and the work itself dried up. “It completely took the decision out of my hands,” she recalls.

If being forced to slow down was a small blessing, a more significant one is that Australia’s COVID elimination strategy has been by-and-large successful and, as is the case in Aotearoa, it’s back to business (almost) as usual. For Didovich, the timing is, again, perfect; with Cash out of the newborn stage and as more jobs pop up, she’s relishing dipping her toes back into work.

Camilla & Marc dress and Bottega Veneta heels. Sarah Ellison armchair and side table and Dinosaur Designs vase.

When we speak, she’s collaborating with Nicole Kidman on a top-secret project, which turns out to be the A-List Aussie’s custom Louis Vuitton Golden Globes look. Ever-mindful of not slipping back into old habits, however, Didovich is proud to report that being a mum has completely redefined her relationship to stress.

No longer what drives her, it’s instead something to watch out for, and to shut down the minute she feels it encroaching, both for her own sake and Cash’s. “I really believe he vibes off my stress, so like, earlier today, I was having a new-mum moment and in floods of tears, and I said to Steven, ‘Can you please watch him while I go and calm down, because I don’t want him to see me like this.’ I just feel like babies really take that on board. Like, if he hears me on the phone and I’m getting worked up about something, he actually starts crying.”

Esse Studio bustier and Viktoria & Woods pants. Dinosaur Designs vases and XRK Celebrations candle.

New-parent tears not withstanding, Didovich is finding there’s much less to get worked up over these days. “My priorities are utterly changed now,” she explains. “For example, you’ll love this, you know those amazing Bottega [Veneta] heels I’m wearing in the shoot? When we were packing them back up, my assistant asked if I was going to order any, and I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t even know where I’d wear them. I’m never not at home in bare feet and trackpants now. In a past life I would’ve bought them in every colour but I’ve gone full mum-mode!”

“I’ve had friends come over to the house and say at last, it actually looks like someone lives here, because there’s baby stuff and clotheslines all over the place when I used to pride myself on it looking like a show home,” she continues. “Cash is just the absolute centre of my universe now, everything else can wait.”

Make no mistake, the Bondi penthouse is still a stunner. Even more so since the couple nabbed the apartment next door and knocked down all the adjoining walls to create the spacious, stylish sanctuary of their dreams.

Maticevski gown and Tiffany & Co cuff.

Didovich accepts that some toddler-proofing will need to take place before Cash is on his feet (“There is so much glass, I can just see the grubby fingerprints already,” she laughs). But it goes without saying that the pair wouldn’t have it any other way – the little messes a sign of everything they’d previously been missing.

“I just want to tell you about those blocks,” she says before we wrap things up. “We’ve always had toys and stuff for when our friends come over with their children. Those particular blocks we’ve had for probably almost 10 years, and out of everything we’ve got, every single kid has just gone for them. I don’t know why, but they’ve all been obsessed. So when I pulled them out to put in Cash’s nursery, it was so special because I was like, my little baby will finally play with these.”

The doting mum will of course be right there with him. And if she’s to be believed, in far less glamorous attire than we’re used to seeing her in. “Although I have to be honest, I think I will order those shoes,” she laughs. “I definitely woke up this morning with some regret, so I reckon I’ll give them a call. Some things won’t ever change!”

Hair and makeup: Max May. Stylist assistant: Chloe de Torres.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Style Topics




Let us keep you up to date with our weekly MiNDFOOD e-newsletters which include the weekly menu plan, health and news updates or tempt your taste buds with the MiNDFOOD Daily Recipe.