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BE INSPIRED

LARA LUPISH: CREATIVE DIRECTOR + EDITOR OF FAÇON AUSTRALIA

Samantha Wills

Façon Creative Director + Editor in Chief, Lara Lupish

Façon Creative Director + Editor in Chief, Lara Lupish


Sometimes I honestly I couldn’t believe how much discussion there was around the colour of a button on a jacket. I mean for fuck’s sake, it’s just a button! But today, this attention to detail is hopefully what separates me in my work.
— Lara Lupish

Façon Issue 3


I’ve become very good at being terrified on the inside, yet appearing calm on the outside.
— Lara Lupish


I pretended I knew what I was doing, and somehow managed to get the costume design volunteers to teach me without them knowing I didn’t have a clue.
— Lara Lupish


The office space sits on the mezzanine and has a massive roller door, meaning we can bring in cars and animals if need be... You never know when you’ll need to shoot a model in a gown on a rearing horse, am I right?
— Lara Lupish


I was shocked to find amazing photographers, hair and make up artists and even models, all working out of Newcastle!
— Lara Lupish


The brands were still supporting me, and I have to admit I was a little surprised, but when Armani and Versace were still happy for me to shoot their products for a relatively unknown title, I realised I had earnt their trust.
— Lara Lupish


My family is Russian, so I remember my very stylish grandmother when I was young, trying on shoes in David Jones and talking to me in Russian, saying “Façon, Façon”
— Lara Lupish

Issue 3 cover girl, Tegan Martin.

Issue 3 cover girl, Tegan Martin.


There is great talent in Newcastle and I’m lucky to know the people who have somehow agreed to come on this crazy journey called ‘Façon’ with me.
— Lara Lupish

An insight into the energy Lara brings to Façon

An insight into the energy Lara brings to Façon


If I had my time over again, I wouldn’t change a thing! Is that bad to say?
— Lara Lupish

If you’re going to do it, do it properly, or don’t do it all!
— Lara's amazing grandmother

­NAME:  Lara Lupish

COMPANY: Façon Australia

TITLE(S): Creative Director/Editor in Chief

AGE: 43

INSTAGRAM: @facon_au

WEBSITE: www.faconaustralia.com

 

How would you describe yourself in 5 words?

Optimistic, hardworking, happy, emotional and confident.

What is the long version of how you got to where you are today?

I met David, the love of my life, in Australia and moved to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Once there I was thrown into a whole new world of musicians, filmmakers, actors and creatives. Signed musicians with American labels, Hollywood filmmakers and big producers. I couldn't believe it! But I discovered that what they did was just a job to them. A job they dearly loved. A concept I'd never even considered. My parents drilled the importance of attending university, which I did. After many years of failing because I was spending too much time in the uni bar, I finally got a psychology degree, which to this day helps me immensely in my work. However, I could never have pursued psychology as a career…No way! 

So, this is when my career began as a creative. I started out as a stylist for TV commercials and music videos. This career path was kind of just sprung on me. I'd always been in love with fashion, music, and art, and spent a lot of my teen years with my head stuck in a Dolly magazine. However, I had never considered opportunities in fashion. I didn’t even know that career paths such as a ‘fashion editor’ or ‘stylist’ even existed (I was very naïve).

I was technically a backpacker on a short visa in Canada. I wasn’t sure where this romance with David would go (I’d met him in Australia and spent about 4 days together in total with him, but then moved to the other side of the world to be with him...Ah the balls you have when you're young). Our relationship blossomed and I started dabbling in film styling work. 

As I gained more experience, I gained more exposure and contracts were flooding in. The job essentially financed holidays to LA, NYC, San Fran and skiing trips to Whistler. Needless to say, I was having an absolute ball.

This went on for a few years. I had the most amazing work opportunities. I worked on big budget US commercials, involving huge crews, helicopters, stunt men, pyrotechnics and water towers just to create fake rain. These things were all just the norm – it was insane! I also worked on music videos with US rappers, photoshoots with celebrities and had access to beautiful luxury fashion. Despite the long hours, early mornings and bloody hard work that went into being involved in these shoots – it was awesome!

And just like that, my work visa ended and it was time to move on to London. I cried all the way from Vancouver to touch down in London. I didn’t want to leave David or North America.

In London, I worked in fashion for Club 21 where I was totally immersed in luxury fashion labels. I was styling runways and dabbling in PR for the company. I often went to the BBC prop and wardrobe house to hire things for my shoots, and these were no small buildings, they took up blocks of London suburbs! It was phenomenal to see, and the costumes especially blew me away.

After living in London for a few years, missing Vancouver and David, he finally popped the question! Following a trip back to Australia, I moved permanently to Canada.

It's always been a struggle with this job though. You have to compete against others to get work, and when you're a freelancer it's almost feast or famine. 'No' becomes a word that you become very familiar with, which is difficult for me because I'm overly sensitive and tend to take everything to heart. So it was, and still is very hard for me not to get upset by why and how I don't get contracts.

Things continued to boom for me in Vancouver, with international advertising agencies I was contracted to do styling for in New York and LA. It was an incredible experience. Standards that I had to work to were so incredibly high and attention to detail was paramount. I have to admit, sometimes I honestly I couldn’t believe how much discussion there was around the colour of a button on a jacket. I mean for fuck’s sake, it’s just a button! But today, this attention to detail is hopefully what separates me in my work.

Then things took an exciting turn in my career path. A producer I worked with on TV commercials asked if I was interested in costume designing for a feature film over the summer. Having never done costume design before, I knew it was a different skill set of sorts and wasn't sure if I could do it! (I'm sure I was only asked because it was an indie film and the budget was small! They probably couldn't afford a proper designer).

Despite my fear of the unknown, I said yes!

Little did I know, Sir Ian McKellen was the lead star (during his summer hiatus from filming X-men in Vancouver). Shaking like a leaf after prepping his wardrobe for each scene in the film, I arrived on his doorstep to do his fitting. I've become very good at being terrified on the inside, yet appearing calm on the outside. Developing a character’s style based from a script was so new to me, I had to fake it!

The fitting went well. He liked me, and I loved him! It was just the start of what was coming my way. 

Again, this being so new to me, I had no idea what I was doing. I went to the local film design school to wrangle some volunteers, as there wasn't a big enough budget to assemble a team.  I put print-outs of calendars on their desks, told them about the film and asked them to fill in the days they could volunteer. They did, and taught me everything I needed to know about costume design during the shooting for the film.

I pretended I knew what I was doing, and somehow managed to get the costume design volunteers to teach me without them knowing I didn't have a clue. I remember one of the first days in the production office one of the student volunteers asked me where the ‘costume plot’ folder was. I replied, “Oh I haven't had a chance to do it. Would you mind taking it home tonight and putting it together?", I had no idea what it was. The next day the student came back to the office with the folder completed, and that's how I learnt what a ‘costume plot’ is.

This is how I got through my first feature film.

My next film had an even bigger all-star cast, featuring Naomi Watts, Laura Dern and Mark Ruffalo! Equally nerve-wracking but I got through and at least had more of a clue the second time round. I did 2 more films after that.

Then David and I decided to move back to Australia.

I transitioned into print advertising work quite heavily when I arrived home. I eventually got a call from my agent from Who Magazine as they desperately needed a stylist to style their annual ‘Most Beautiful People’ issue cover. Their usual stylist wasn't available and the agency I was with at the time didn't have any of their fashion stylists available either. They put me forward and it became the first cover shoot styling job I’ve don. I worked with the beautiful Kate Ritchie, Jessica Mauboy and Lara Bingle. It was huge and they had a famous fashion photographer, so it was quite intimidating. 

It turned out to be a success, and I then became a regular stylist for Who Magazine's annual big covers. I got lucky again. The covers I did with them won awards. I guess it then pushed me into being a celebrity stylist. I got to work with the top names in the industry - Megan Gale, Jen Hawkins, Dannii Minogue, Nat Bassingthwaite and Delta Goodrem. I worked with them for many years both for Who and for other magazines and projects.

I formed some great relationships with Australian designers and international luxury brands through my fashion editing, which led me to start styling celebrities for TV shows.

Years passed, and career change was upon me again!

At this time we had 2 small children, and so made the decision to move to Newcastle, leaving Sydney behind. It was a scary decision as both mine and my husband’s jobs didn't really exist in regional Newcastle. I kept a studio in Sydney and pursued my celebrity styling work, which continued to gain momentum.

But in the meantime, a few creatives in Newcastle found me and were keen to shoot. I, like everyone else had a very set idea of the creative standard that Newcastle could produce. I was shocked to find amazing photographers, hair and make up artists and even models, all working out of Newcastle! They were green, but could do it! The stars in their eyes were inspirational. I was working on my own rules in Newcastle, I could shoot what I wanted, when I wanted! 

Things progressed. The Newcastle creatives and I really loved working together. It was a lot less stressful than my Sydney work. Probably a welcomed break, mentally. At that point, it was a bit of fun. I gave myself a promotion and decided that I should become a Creative Director. I pitched a fashion editorial idea to a locally produced high quality publication called ‘Hunter Lifestyle’. The editor agreed! I would create the story behind the scenes, shoot and have a designer put together the editorial. We would deliver the final pages complete. I basically could do my own fashion pages, use local designers and mix them up with Australian and international brands. The pages looked amazing and were well-received.  We were churning out good stuff! The brands were still supporting me, and I have to admit I was a little surprised, but when Armani and Versace were still happy for me to shoot their products for a relatively unknown title, I realised I had earnt trust with brands that I had worked with for so long. I was so thrilled.

Eventually Hunter Lifestyle faded away, but we continued to shoot and had created our own Instagram page and I named it Façon - the French and Russian word for ‘mode, method, fashion and trend’. My family is Russian, so I remember my very stylish grandmother when I was young, trying on shoes in David Jones and talking to me in Russian, saying "Façon, Façon".

And so that brings me to where I am today! I am the Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director of my magazine, ‘Façon’. We have just hit stands with our third issue. The gorgeous and amazing Samantha Wills was my first cover girl.  I distinctly remember having that 2am thinking moment, wondering if she would agree to the cover. I emailed her then and there in the middle of the night to ask her. Thank goodness she said yes! Her presence on the cover catapulted us to a higher level straight away. We skipped a few steps as a publication because of this.

We are produced regionally but distributed in 800 newsagencies in Australia, and 8 countries internationally. 

As part of Façon, we are also a content creation agency. The amazing thing about what I'm doing now is I am shining light on creatives and quality content from a regional area. There is great talent in Newcastle and I’m lucky to know the people who have somehow agreed to come on this crazy journey called ‘Façon’ with me.

I think it is really important people can explain their main message in a concise paragraph – if the above is the full version - What is you elevator pitch on what you do?

We are a content creation agency and magazine putting regional content and creatives on the map! We are a publication that offers advertisers more. Traditional advertising compliments the creation for social media and also digital presence. We pride ourselves in taking brand affiliation very seriously.

Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago? (If not, what did you think you would be doing?)

When I moved back to Australia with my husband just over 10 years ago, I jokingly said that I was going to become an editor of a fashion magazine...Well now I am, but I never thought it would be my own!

What does ‘success’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself ‘successful’?

Success is never letting it beat you, or wear you down!

What do you still want to achieve? 

Personally, ensuring I have time for my kids and hubby, and am always there for them. Also I'd love to go to the gym 4 times a week instead of 2…

Professionally, increase financial resources at Façon so we can bring on more employees and keep growing!

Did you study anything specific for the career you are in?

No! The psych degree helps in people management and motivation, I hope.

What have been the most rewarding things in your career to date?

Getting to my answer for question number three! When many (I'm sure) doubted that I could pull it off - including myself! 

Tell us about your workspace (Office / café / couch / aesthetic) what inspires you about your workspace?

My office is a big old warehouse in Wickham, Newcastle. We have a cyc so we can shoot whenever we need to. The office space sits on the mezzanine and has a massive roller door, meaning we can bring in cars and animals if need be... You never know when you’ll need to shoot a model in a gown on a rearing horse, am I right?

What are some frustrations you have experiences on your career journey?

MONEY! Everything else is great... I can’t really recall frustrating times? I mean there have been lots of rejections, but that’s just part of the deal.

When was the last time you where overwhelmed & cried from something provoked by work / work load?

Last week. I sobbed in the shower because workload and stress just got to me! I don't like to show my hubby or kids that I'm losing it, so I had a cry, got my shit together and carried on. Amazing what a little five minute cry can do for you!

If you are a business owner – and you often can’t just check out / have a week off when you are dealing with personal things – how do you keep on keeping on with your business when things get tough?

I like to keep my work and personal life separate! This preference was established when I was a teenager working part-time at Just Jeans. My boyfriend (at the time) and I had fought before my shift and I was absolutely devastated! Come work time, my mentality shifted, as when it’s time to sell jeans, it’s time to sell jeans! Tears can wait and work is for work. Unfortunately the personal stuff gets me at night when I'm trying to sleep. But I'm fairly open with my emotions so I talk about stuff with David, my mum or my best friend. It always helps!

Has your career affected your personal life / relationships? If so how?

I have a very supportive husband. He used to be a musician signed with a US record label, so he would make records, music videos etc. He understands the difficulties involved in running your own business in a creative industry!

I think my kids often miss me when I'm in the thick of work... I'm trying to be better at being more present for them!

Has your journey at times felt lonely? How?

No, I haven’t felt lonely one bit. I've been very lucky to have a supportive professional and personal network. The only time I feel lonely is when I worry about finances, as being the owner and operator in charge of people’s wages, it’s entirely my problem!

If you had your time over again, from when you started your career to right now, would you do anything differently?

I wouldn't change a thing! Is that bad to say?

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

You have no idea what you want to do with your life yet! Travel, have fun, experience and explore! It will all eventually come to you.

Who are some women in business you admire & why?

Samantha Wills; I watched her grow from a small business owner working from her living room with callouses all over her hands, to the jewellery industry mogul she is today! She continues to blow me away with her achievements and for the lovely person she is.

Also, Victoria Beckham! I love how she’s morphed herself from a pop star to a successful fashion designer. I find that celebrity "fashion designers" are often a bit of a gimmick, and I think she was fully aware of this stereotype. She wanted to be taken seriously, something which she has conquered with her amazing, fashion-forward brand! I also love that her family life is an integral part of her success. 

What traits do you admire in people you surround yourself with?

Poise, calmness, passion and loyalty.

Work life balance… Does it exist (I don’t think it does!) and how to maintain it, or a sense of it?

I think if you run your own business, it doesn't exist! You eat, live and breathe what you do. One thing I am big on is not being on my phone when I go for walks.  My pet hate is seeing people glued to their phones while exercising in the beautiful outdoors. I mean, surely it can wait?  

Have you ever thought about giving up / quitting? If so, does that feeling hit from the same triggers? Why haven’t you quit?

It's tough, often I have. As mentioned previously, the funding aspect really gets to me! I do often find myself thinking “I wish I had an investor drop out of the sky!" It would ease the pressure.

However, I won’t quit! I have an amazing team that are so passionate and hardworking. I would hate to let them down by quitting.

I won’t quit because I love seeing the final product - perfect images and plans that have come together. It is endlessly rewarding! These glimmers that happen amongst all the preparation is what keeps me going.

What is the biggest misconception about what you do?

That it’s all glamour, champagne and parties! No way, it's mostly schlepping and working like a bitch!

What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your industry?

Work hard, always be grateful and polite. Be prepared for a million ‘no's’ for one ‘yes’.  Don't be concerned with what others are doing, focus on your own shit!

I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be?

Façon is the only regionally produced high-end fashion magazine. Based regionalIy, I hope that I can make a difference by increasing opportunities for people seeking  to work in the creative industry. I'm proud to say that I run an internship program from which I've employed all of my current staff. I want my staff to walk away from Façon and be able to work anywhere in the creative industry, anywhere in the world. I want to prove that regional cities can produce the same quality content as big cities

The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION is about bringing women in business together – why do you think this is important / (why did you want to be involved in this interview)?

We need to support each other! We build strength from learning about other women's experiences. Finding a common denominator helps us to overcome fears and feelings of doubt. It's also like seeing a good shrink, you get to unload and share your experiences with likeminded people.

I think the SWF is such an amazing initiative! I am often inspired by the other businesswomen that the Samantha Wills Foundation has supported.

What are some of your favorite quotes?

My all-time fave is "focus on your own shit!". Hands down.

Also, as my gorgeous grandmother would say to me when I was young - "if you're going to do it, do it properly, or don't do it all!"