Sometimes in life the best way to reach a destination is not always via the most direct route. Just ask Aussie style guru, Sophia Banks-Coloma. The daughter of Morgan and Banks founder, Andrew Banks, Sophia has emerged as one of the leading stylists to the stars dressing some of Hollywood’s top celebrities, such as Sharon Stone, Alicia Silverstone, Michelle Rodriguez, Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston, to name a few.
But the journey to heady heights of Hollywood was not exactly a straight line. “I started off in acting school in New York when I realised I was more interested in film and fashion. I then moved to London for a year – but I couldn’t stand the weather.”
While she toyed with the idea of returning to Australia, her experience working in the US market told her she needed to be elsewhere, “For fashion, I really needed to be in the Northern Hemisphere. When I arrived in Los Angeles I knew no-one and had only a few loose, random contacts.”
Sophia was quick to impress the locals, after landing a role as Assistant Designer at Marc’s she quickly found a sponsor and mentor who helped get her styling career started. “I starting working with Satine boutique at a time when the only label people seemed to be wearing in LA was Citizen jeans. I could see there was a real opportunity there especially for Australian designers.”
Her fashion prescience, experience and keen eye for design starlets saw Sophia unearth hidden talents such as Mouret; Rodarte with whom she fostered successful collaborations early on. Sophia was also one of the first to champion Acne, Pierre Hardy and Isabel Marant. It wasn’t long before the accolades arrived, Sophia was twice named Harper’s Bazaar style leader and acknowledged by Vogue Australia as this Country’s top fashion export.
Today, Sophia has a showroom in Los Angeles where she has successfully presented both established and emerging Australian design labels to Hollywood and was instrumental in landing some 40 Aussie labels onto the red carpet.
There is no doubt, Sophia is someone who understands the power of Hollywood. Her own style icons include Katherine Hepburn, Coco Chanel. “Katherine Hepburn is known for her effortless elegance. She along with Coco Chanel were pioneers for working women. Both women changed the image of the frilly dressed up woman forever.” As for modern day icons, Sophia was quick to nominate Cate Blanchet as a stand out, “Cate is in a league of her own there are few actresses who have been as successful stylistically speaking.”
It seems stardom may be something Sophia maybe contemplating for herself. When we caught up with her just under two months ago Sophia was in Australia attending a few highly confidential meetings with TV network execs and publications. Rumour has it she is close to securing her own starring role in a reality TV series that follows her career as stylist to Hollywood’s A-list. Which would take Sophia right back to where she started.
Sophia Banks-Coloma will be in Australia from April 27 as an International Guest of Mercedez-Benz Australian Fashion Week.