Melbourne-based Kiwi Kelly Thompson’s eye for great design is put to good use in her work as an illustrator, designer, brand collaborator and founder of online boutique Makers’ Mrkt. She talks to STYLE about her favourite things, the designers she loves and who she credits for her incredible sense of style.
The best piece of fashion advice I’ve ever received is… When I was young my Mum had a flamboyant friend who was from London and would come and visit every couple of years when in New Zealand. Every time she came to stay, she would bring me her old felted hats with floral decorations and incredible vintage dresses for my dress up box. I still have her over-the-top silk wedding dress (from her first marriage before she realised she preferred large, strong women over men…fascinating to learn as a child, although her husband was very dull). Growing up in Rotorua she was like a character from a book to me, or like some kind of fairy godmother with her thick accent and crazy outfits. While she never said it to me directly, her encouragement was definitely to wear what you want and wear it your own way and find joy in the simple act of getting dressed. It’s now something I do every day.
My style icon is… To be honest I don’t really have one, but I do admire people who are unashamedly themselves and love to dress up such as Catherine Baba, Iris Apfel, Emma Rowen Rose and Natalie Joos.
At the top of my wish list is… vintage Courrèges, Joostricot knits when they go on sale, some of the new Gardenesque range from Karen Walker and printed, colourful dresses! I’m not sure if it’s because we have been in lockdown for basically six months in Melbourne, but I am rejecting boring everyday basics and want full feminine, full colour, and also some mini dresses.
The last household item I bought was… a beautiful textured cream rug from a maker in Morocco… still waiting for it to arrive though. And a big shelf for my office to store all my Makers’ Mrkt stock… I am nerdily thrilled to arrange everything on it this week.
A gadget I can’t live without is… I’d gladly live gadget free if I got to keep a polaroid camera.
If money was no object, an artist I would buy from is… I don’t think my choices would change too much if I was rich to be honest. I’d love to have a Gavin Hurley piece, a big Ronan Bouroullec original, a Sabine Marcelis Soap table, a Studio Mignone pastel coffee table and then I’d go buy all the Willy Rizzo furniture I can’t afford (technically designers, but still art in my eyes).
A beauty product I can’t leave home without is… mascara! Recently converted to the Ilia Limitless Lash from Mecca, it’s all natural and so good!
A fashion/design rule I love to break is… trends. I can’t stand a trend and I never follow them, they’re so silly and so bad for the environment – just buy what you love when you love it and wear it your way.
My favourite pick-me-up is… Lipstick always works a treat, and a good hour of pilates with an instructor bossing me around.
My guilty pleasure is… milky Bar and fruit pies…actually any sweet baked dessert….and cheesecake…and…
If I didn’t live in Melbourne, I would live… Oh a hard one! Definitely closer to nature, either by a beach somewhere that never gets cold, or on a farm with a view where I can grow my own food and make a ridiculous secret garden – I’d love a garden to be my legacy. Can’t think of exactly where these locations would be placed in the world though, something to think about.
My favourite city to travel to is… I have stared at this one for so long….just type an answer Kelly, this is so hard! I’m more about the smaller spots than the big main cities, I like to see what’s to the side of the city usually, but I absolutely loved Istanbul when I went there; I enjoy an old city rich with cultural history that is juxtaposed beside modern life. I remember feeling so full there, not due to all of the snacks, but because of the smells and colours and patterns – it’s a great place to soak up a lot of inspiration!
If I could have dinner with any three people on earth, dead or alive, I would choose… My grandma who died when I was young and I wish I got to know more about; I’d like to chat to her adult to adult and see her as a person, not just my nana. Michelangelo or one of the painting greats, I’d just love to know what it was like to have years and years to work on one piece instead of days like we have today – what’s it like to be an artist with a patron? And then I need to think of a scandalous woman who broke the set societal rules of her time and lived a life of fun and mischief…currently pulling a brain blank, but they would be there for the party stories.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt recently is… that I can do it, no matter what. I feel like I’ve just realised my own strength.
You can read more about Kelly and Makers’ Mrkt in the spring issue of STYLE. Take a peak inside the issue here.