IN CONVERSATION: ELLA MURPHY, STYLIST + CREATIVE DIRECTOR.
WE SHOT OUR SERIES 3 CAMPAIGN - SENSORIUS - WITH A BEAUTIFUL CONSORTIUM OF TALENTED INDIVIDUALS. STYLIST + CREATIVE DIRECTOR ELLA MURPHY WORKED WITH US TO BRING THE VISION OF A CARAVAGGIO INSPIRED COLOUR PALETTE TO LIFE. WE TALKED TO ELLA TO UNDERSTAND HOW + WHY, THIS CREATIVE POWERHOUSE DOES WHAT SHE DOES...
SB: You styled the launch campaign for Sans Beast back in late 2017 – Series 1: The Night Army of Madame Flamingo – and now just worked on Series 3: Sensorius. You’ve also been a major cheerleader for the brand, using the bags for runway + editorial. What draws you to Sans Beast?
EM: Accessories wise I’m always drawn to things that are uniquely artistic + something that really stood out to me with Sans Beast, was the striking form + structure of the pieces. I think that for style, the thing that sets someone apart, in my eyes, is a unique accessory. If you create a timeless piece, it separates you from the masses. I think the ultimate stylish person isn’t necessarily someone who is conforming, but rather, identifying art in fashion.
"I think that for style, the thing that sets someone apart, in my eyes, is a unique accessory."
SB: How did you discover you wanted to be in the creative world? What was the first sign that creative expression had to be your path?
EM: I went to an all-girls Anglican school that was very academic – and my parents are in medical + scientific fields, so whilst my mother identified with creativity, she was a little pigeonholed in her professional life, which rubbed off on me. So in that sense, it was hard for me to reach out + grab, or explore, more artistic pursuits in school. My nan taught me how to sew, and I never fully realised how much time I put into that, but I made all of my clothes. I also played a lot of sport, which helped to ground me as I needed some respite from the academic side of my studies. I really struggled to find the point of academic study because I just wasn’t enjoying it.
"My nan taught me how to sew, and I never fully realised how much time I put into that, but I made all of my clothes."
When I was considering the study focus at Uni – a path I knew I had to follow, as that was the expectation – I took some time to travel prior, as I was obsessed with different cultures – and this drove me to work out what I wanted to do – I chose a double degree in International Studies. I thought doing something culturally in the UN would be good, but then my Mum convinced me to do communications with a major in advertising to get a balance of academic with creative. I gravitated towards advertising, got a graduate position - and I was still patternmaking + making my clothes – so I organically moved towards getting clients in fashion, and seemed to get a lot of interest in where my clothes came from…which progressed in time, to styling + creative direction.
SB: What’s your creative process?
EM: I have a daily process – I’m up early + I walk or run with my dog Bobby, and then I take some time to just ‘be’. When I’m walking I’m listening to podcasts – from entrepreneurial to scientific…these topics seem to channel my brain. I tend to do a lot of visual referencing + digital scrapbooking – runway.com etc – which grounds me + ensures I am building focused reference points. I used to do a lot of physical scrapbooking when I was younger – and I didn’t realise until later that I was creating a visual journal versus a written one. Now I use my IPad to collect + collate inspiration daily – not necessarily related to a brief or a project. This keeps me motivated + also allows me to lean on a history of visual touchpoints when I need them. It’s my ongoing archive.
SB: How important is collaboration to you, in the process?
EM: I’m such an extrovert, I really feed off the process of bouncing off other people + their concepts. I’m a true believer in the idea that we don’t have everything as individuals – I think everyone can bring a really beautiful aspect to the project + together, you can create this even bigger, grander thing together. I also like to be challenged by other people when I think that my way is ‘set’ + ‘right’ – I like to see the other side.
SB: What does success look like to you?
EM: We (my partner Greg + I) want to live on a sustainable property, on a lot of land, that rolls into the ocean. I have a tendency to go into fight or flight in my daily work – and I crave the day when I can be content + not be in that mode. I do know that the fight or flight response comes from my passion + the fear of failure, which I’ve come to terms with + I manage it in a more healthy + balanced way nowadays. Animals are also so powerful – and that routine of walking with my dog, and just being with him, slows me down, makes me appreciate life.
SB: How do you document your projects?
EM:It used to be scrapbooking, but now I use the IPad Pro daily – drawing, visual treatments, imagery collection. I look back on past projects or imagery I’ve collected and am so grateful that I love much of it still. It reminds me that I worked hard on it + achieved what I set out to.
"Animals are also so powerful – and that routine of walking with my dog, and just being with him, slows me down, makes me appreciate life."
SB: What’s the dream project?
EM: I guess where my brain is at, at the moment, is working with the Collective – working on projects that are a combination of fashion, art, hospitality + psychology. What really resonates with me, is the ability to create an event or an experience, for a brand or multiple brands – and to learn from the audience/customer through various experiments within this event / experience, and then be able to give back to people, an improved experience, that may be about sustainability or reducing climate impact – or general inspiration - that offers something better than before in their consumer-led interaction.
SB: How do you relax?
EM: I do a lot of yoga. My dog Bobby is a key factor. Greg + I also spend a lot of time making furniture out of wood we’ve collected. My brain doesn’t serve me well with the phone or TV – so I prefer to detach from these devices + focus on being outside + making. Greg’s an industrial designer by trade, and he motivates me to get outside + create.
SB: Thanks so much for the chat. Now for some rapidfire Q's to finish up -
Navy or the Pirates - Pirates
Earlybird or night owl – Earlybird
Water or wine – Wine
Yoga or boxing – Yoga
Books or movies – Books
Mountains or oceans - Ocean
Minimal or maximal – Maximal
Jewellery or shoes – Shoes
Map reader or The Force – The Force
Wooden or wire hangers – Wooden