The Tale Of Nicole Bonython-Hines | Mom Lifestyle Blogs & Websites |

The Tale Of Nicole Bonython-Hines

“"Mum was always very stylish. She would never be a tracksuit wearing person ever. It was always a top-to-toe look that extended either to lunch or vacuuming the carpet",” says Nicole Bonython-Hines, recalling memories of her own mother growing up. “"She always wore a full face of makeup. I don’t think I’'ve even seen her without eyeliner on (I never wear makeup – perhaps the rebel in me!). Had my mother been born in my era, she would have been a stylist for sure, but possibly more interiors than fashion. She was lucky that my father would let her buy whatever she wanted. They had a very active social life, so I guess she had lots of occasions to wear real fashion. I recall lots of Courrèges in the 60’s and early 70’s, Pierre Cardin, more of the US designers in the mid 70’s such as Geoffrey Beene, Halston, and a fair bit of YSL",” she says.

SHOP THE LOOK: Nicole wears Seed cardigan, $169.95, Seed top, $79.95, Seed harem pants, $99.95 and Seed shoes, $129.95. Audrey wears Seed top (coming soon), Seed jeans, $59.95, and Seed shoes, $69.95

No wonder then that Bonython-Hines is of one Australia'’s most admired fashion editors. She’'s also one of the most modest fashion editors you'’ll ever meet. "“Getting my first job was pretty exciting",” she says, recalling her most memorable career moment. That first job just so happened to be at VOGUE. She went on to transform the look of celebrities such as Kylie Minogue. “"I’'ve worked with lot's of amazing people such as Kylie in her transformative day's and made changes to their style, haveing influenced fashion as a result, that was pretty great",” she says. If we were to get into the nitty gritty, you’'d discover that she not only styled Minogue in her early days, but designed many of her stage costumes such as the Australian flag suit Minogue wore at her 1990 Enjoy Yourself concert.

Bonython-Hines grew up in Adelaide before moving with her family to Sydney where her father owned a big art gallery in Paddington. “"We lived above the gallery in a house that they built, so coming home from school, often the artists dad showed would linger around so I'’d sit and eat my afternoon tea with people like Brett Whiteley".” Consequently, famous people have never phased her. Bonython-Hines also has vivid memories of time spent in Western NSW where her mother grew up on a sheep station near Willcannia. “"I’'d often spend holidays there with my aunt and uncle. It was such a contrast to my city life, but I really loved it. I would help with their five very small children and always loved looking after kids. As mum was the eldest of her family, all her siblings had kids younger than us, so I always had lots of little ones to take care of".”

SHOP THE LOOK: Nicole wears Seed denim harem pants, $99.95, Seed sweater, $129.95. Audrey wears Seed shirt, $49.95 and Seed jeans, $59.95

SHOP THE LOOK: Nicole wears Seed denim harem pants, $99.95, Seed sweater, $129.95. Audrey wears Seed shirt, $49.95 and Seed jeans, $59.95.

She went on to became a mother herself at the young age of 23. "“I thought I’'d rush straight back to work, but I soon found out that I didn'’t want to go anywhere that was away from my baby girl, so I managed to drag it out to five months. I never stopped feeding and would come home twice a day to feed, which was really hard to do, but it appeased my working mother guilt",” she recalls. Looking back, she says she never really lost that guilt. "“I vowed that with my next child, I would never try to go back to work straight away again.” A year later, she made the decision to “retire” from full time magazine work and became a freelance stylist".

"“The fashion industry and motherhood are definitely not compatible",” says Bonython-Hines. “"Parenting requires predictability, which is definitely something the fashion business does not bring, so organising carers or making arrangements can be a total nightmare. I’'m so happy that my youngest are now in high school, as I no longer have to make sure someone is around to collect them from school at 3pm!”". Next week, she'’s due to fly to LA for a shoot but the dates have changed three times. “It’'s a total nightmare of arranging care/rearranging care and who takes who to which sport etc, but it’'s just par for the course with my work.”

SHOP THE LOOK: Audrey wears Seed top (coming soon), Seed jeans, $59.95, and Seed shoes, $69.95.

"Looking back to the hardest period of motherhood", she says, it was two months after her third child was born. “"I was a single mother. That was a really tough time. Not just emotionally. I had to work, so it was a massive juggle and I worked really hard to make ends meet and keep my family together. I got a live in nanny which was the best thing I ever did, particularly given that my working hours were so erratic and it was good to be able to get out at night every now and then and have some ‘me’ time",” she says. If she'’d had the choice, she would have been a full time mother during those early years of motherhood. “"It'’s a contentious thing to say, but if I could’'ve not worked through those early years, I definitely wouldn’'t have. I do not think it is possible to do the best by either your job or your children by having a full time career and all of you suffer as a consequence (mum, kids, job). I didn’'t have the choice and that said, we’re all fine. My eldest is actually adamant that she’'ll always work when she gets around to having kids, but here’s an example of learning by experience. My mother never worked so perhaps I hankered for what she had".”

SHOP THE LOOK: Audrey wears Seed top (coming soon), Seed jeans, $59.95, and Seed shoes, $69.95.

On parenting, she says "there’s no right way. “I’'ve approached everything in my life with an attitude that if you work hard enough, you'’ll get it right however this has certainly not been the case with parenting it'’s been trial and error and sometimes I’'ve succeeded and sometimes I’'ve failed. You can just love them and do the best you can. So far, they'’ve all turned out pretty well!”". We spent the afternoon with Nicole and her 12-year-old daughter Audrey to find out more about her life…

On her own mother...
She would often throw parties and would cook everything herself, she was a great cook – more of the Le Cordon Bleu era of cooking. As dad owned art galleries, we had lots of amazing modern art and pretty great modern furniture. It was definitely an adult’s world and as kids, we were there but were probably not given the time and attention that is the norm for kids of this generation. Mum wore those heady fragrances of the 70’s, Shalimar and Opium were her favourites. Mum was good fun, she loved a crowd and was very entertaining – a bon vivant I suppose you'’d call her.  She was also very generous and would go to enormous lengths for various charities. She was good at rallying people and being bossy, but people genuinely loved her. She was also very beautiful – she did some modelling prior to getting married and a little just after. I have recollections of watching her get ready for parties and wearing fabulous hair pieces and a statement eyeliner in the 60’s.

On being a mother of five...
I'’ve always been pretty organised. I guess by being prepared and on top of everything, when curve balls appear, you only have to deal with that specific issue rather than that on top of everything else. I’'ve always had lots of energy too, so I’'ve been lucky in that regard. I always did what I could at night when the kids were asleep: prepped whatever meals I could in advance and froze them and wrote lists of weekly activities etc.

On a happy home...
That'’s dependent on so many things, I guess to have all the mundane things crossed off the list so that you can put in the energy to whatever dramas happen along the way. There have been happy times and not so happy times – you can only deal with whatever you can, the best you can and not beat yourself up when you don'’t do so well.

On what motherhood has taught her...
I’'ve learnt that no two children are the same, so the way you parent one will not necessarily have the same outcome with another. I guess I’'ve approached them all the same and yet each has responded differently. I sometimes think you relearn parenting with every child.

On what she admires most about her own mother...
Mum has a great sense of aesthetics. She sees every detail and does have a very good eye, I'’m always amazed at how she can do stuff like grab a few branches or something and create this fabulous ‘thing’ on a table. She’'s very blunt which at times can not always be great, however she does usually see things as they really are and say's so I do admire real honesty. She’s enthusiastic and supportive.

SHOP THE LOOK: Nicole wears Seed cargo pants, $89.95, Seed tee, $59.95, Seed coat, $249.95 and Seed loafers, $149.95. Audrey wears Seed jeans, $59.95, Seed jumper (coming soon) and Seed shoes, $69.95

SHOP THE LOOK: Nicole wears Seed cargo pants, $89.95, Seed tee, $59.95, Seed coat, $249.95 and Seed loafers, $149.95. Audrey wears Seed jeans, $59.95, Seed jumper (coming soon) and Seed shoes, $69.95.

On how life changed when she became a mother...
I'’ve been a mother since I was 23, so I feel like I was a child and then I was a mother.  I can’'t really remember not being a mother, I never had those single years that my friends had, where they just thought about themselves and work. For me, it’s always been family.

On the qualities she loves most about her children...
All my kids are completely different. They'’re all doing well, my eldest now a year off 30, which is so bizarre to me (I remind her that I had three children by the time I was her age!). The older three have a good sense of self and are independent and self-reliant. The younger two are on the cusp on teenage years, but such different individuals, I'’d have to write an essay on each to say what I love about them as no two are the same. They'’re all very loving to me, so perhaps that is the universal quality.

On her Mother’s Day wish list...
Hopefully seeing all my children, but that'’s not so easy with everyone living in different places and having different and weird working schedules. When my three elder children were little, I used to say that I just wanted them all to get on just for that one day and that would be the gift I wanted! Now they all do, but boy that took a while! Probably just to have them all at home with me would be nice… and if they can bring the food so I don'’t have to cook.

On her beauty and fitness regime...
I’'m the worst person to ask about this, I'’ve always been terrible with beauty. It'’s all about getting it done fast! Soap and moisturiser… I have a nice SK II moisturiser I use. In regards to exercise, that’'s one thing I must say I'’ve always done pretty well. I have always made time to exercise. Usually every day and usually very early so that I was home and ready to get kids organised in the morning (so up about 5am and home by say 6.15am). If I don'’t exercise early it doesn'’t happen, the day just steam rolls and then you don’t have time. There are no excuses at 5am!

On her children’s rooms...
They’'re a work in progress at the moment. They’'re at the age where they'’re transitioning from child to teen and we’re starting to move out all the ‘babyish’ stuff and get ‘cooler’ stuff in, I think it’'s me dragging the chain, I’'m losing my babies the last of my babies. I'’m starting to accumulate boxes in the attic with their old toys and I'’m labelling them ‘for grandchildren’!

On her career as a fashion stylist...
Mum was always very interested in fashion and I had always loved magazines even as a young girl. She received a subscription to US Vogue, which I loved and when I was 10, I had my own subscription to 17 Magazine, which is like Teen Vogue now. I loved photography and was obsessed with models and designers. Plus with dad’s interest in art and being surrounded by art and music and all things aesthetic and modern, it was almost something I could never avoid. There was no such thing as a stylist in those days and therefore that was not something I could aspire to, however I always knew that my destiny lay in that world. I knew I would some day work at Vogue so I kept banging on that door until I eventually got a job there and then everything pretty much happened from that point. I worked on magazines until I had my second child and then went freelance, specialising in bands/performers (the link to musicians courtesy of dad I guess) but still kept a finger in magazines and fashion – eventually going back to magazines but also always freelancing. I love photography and the serendipity of beautiful clothes in a great photograph is entirely satisfying.

On motherhood getting easier...
Does it get easier? Yes and no. Certainly as they become less dependent – they can get themselves physically around more, are more independent and do more for themselves, however the other side of that sword is that they are physically able to get around more and be more independent and can do more for themselves (or not…). I'’ve actually always found the teenage years more challenging. When they’'re little, even though they’'re more physically demanding and require more of your time and organisation, they still are slightly more ‘controllable’ however once they'’re teenagers, it becomes a lot harder to say, ‘do as I say!’ as they’'ll tend to do the opposite. Emotionally it'’s much more challenging too.

On time management and organisation...
I stay organised by keeping a diary and writing out a weekly agenda for everything – after school activities, sport, parties, meal plans etc. On Sunday, I generally cook at least two dishes that can either be frozen or fridge stored for a night when I know I’m getting home later or where we’re all busy with activities until later so that everybody eats properly. I find that if I leave it until I get home to organise things, then they all snack and don’t eat a healthy dinner. Lunches for school are done the night before except for sandwiches, which I do on the morning. All ironing etc is done over the weekend so there'’s none of that hideous rushing in the mornings.

On her home...
We’'ve been in this house for about five years now. This house has lovely bones, big windows, wide hallways and high ceilings with lots of light, which is so important to me. In terms of decorating, I have had no real approach or plan to what’s there, it just happened over time and pieces have come and really only gone if they’'ve become broken. I have a fair few paintings and love the colour that art brings to what is probably a fairly blank space. I have a weird throwback to my Adelaide roots in that I still also love those very traditional almost old world pieces that were popular in my grandmother’s generation and still pretty popular with current Adelaidians. I have this more modernist approach in our living space but my bedroom is quite girly and pretty. They are very different and I can'’t really reconcile the two within the same space but there it is! I would love to start a photographic collection, but school fees come first for now!

On her personal style...
I wear very basic pieces day-to-day, which have a ‘fashion’ element to them but are not ‘look at me’ fashion pieces. Most pieces I wear are probably quite androgynous but not always. I never wear heels (well, rarely…sometimes if I go out but only if I know I won'’t be standing for long). I have lots of brogues and chunky flat sandals and sneakers. I hate wearing clothes that are uncomfortable – I need to get a lot done in my day and need to move fast and cannot be restricted by my wardrobe. I love oversized tees or sweaters, culottes or wide legged pants, a throw over coat, flat shoes. I'’ve always worn versions of the same thing that have changed slightly with fashion. I prefer fairly minimalist pieces that are pretty basic but have a nuance of fashion. I'’d never wear anything that was really ‘try hard’ fashion. And pockets, I must have clothes with pockets! I’'ve turned down many an item that I'’ve loved simply because there’s no pocket!

On the best and hardest part of motherhood...
As they say, there's no manual that comes out after you give birth to that child so you just do the best you can with whatever limited experience you have. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’'t. It’'s hard not knowing how to handle any given situation and over time you work out what works… generally but not always. Sometimes it'’s just exhausting and relentless. But the other side of that is that you’'ve created something that you love intensely and that they in turn, love you, and that'’s not a bad thing at all. Most of my life I'’ve mothered and it’s been all things to me incredibly painful and incredibly joyous – I wouldn'’t have it differently.

On her favourite time of day...
I really love that moment of going to bed and just doing something without purpose, like reading or watching a TV episode on my computer, when I can switch off just for a bit…it’s luxury!

On what makes her smile about her children...
Every now and then I see something in my kids that makes me see something good I’'ve given to them and that makes me happy (and conversely when I see something not so great, that makes me feel not so good if I’'ve passed on a bad trait!). They’'re all good kids and I love them all in different ways that make me smile in different ways….  Can’'t name them all!"

Photography: Julie Adams Videographer: Sam Hastwell Hair and Makeup: Regina Gao Words: Georgie Abay




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