Ilona Hamer's New York State of Mind

  • Borrowing From The Boys: above, Ilona wears a Country Road double-breasted suit on the rooftop of her apartment building in New York; below, her styling inspiration – Richard Gere's relaxed and undone chic in the film, American Gigolo, 1980.

When it comes to her wardrobe, the New York-based stylist and Australian expat, Ilona Hamer, has always steered towards menswear-inspired tailoring and sharp-shouldered silhouettes. Here, she makes a case for the power of a confidence-boosting suit.

Photographs by Alexandra Nataf  |  Interview Natasha Inchley

If there is one thing that has always excited me about working in fashion, and with fashion stylists in particular, it is the storytelling that comes from combining words with pictures. I’m fortunate to have worked with the gorgeous stylist Ilona Hamer for more than seven years during our time together at Vogue Australia. I have always loved her strong style and twist on a trend. And so when it came to appointing a stylist to road-test Country Road’s winter tailoring for its online journal, Live With Us, the answer was obvious. Ilona’s freestyle approach to fashion these days is unabashedly New York, yet the effect still tends towards feeling somewhat Australian – fuss-free and undone. In this story, she wears a Country Road suit on the rooftop of her apartment. The back story is her inspiration: a kind of American Gigolo homage, in which boyfriend dressing gets an even sexier update.

Describe your take on borrowing from the boys: There is something empowering about a suit. It makes you feel strong and in control – like you have your life together and can handle anything, even if that couldn’t be further from the truth. Strong people wear suits; women who know what they want and how to get it, wear suits. They don’t mess around with frills and flounces and unnecessary fabric. It’s a straight-to-the-point statement that emanates a certain confidence, ease and sense of self. I like to wear mine with T-shirts and camisoles or – as shown here on a 30-degree day in New York – sometimes nothing at all. But a word of caution: this look is, of course, probably best saved for after 6, and perhaps when you have a martini in hand. 

  1. your SIGNATURE fragrance: Sycamore by Chanel Les Exclusifs. 
  2. playlist: I have been listening to a lot of Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley lately. Also The Allah-las and The Night Beats.

  3. Latest read: Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto.

  4. favourite flowers: Tulips and Peonies.

  5. Cocktail of choice: A Negroni or tequila on the rocks with a squeeze of lime.

  6. Favourite artist: John Chamberlain because I love the delicacy and the force, the intricate planned mess and texture. It's like the past and the future all mushed together, like a Transformer Robot in a wrecking yard. 

  7. sunday routine: I take coffee and croissants from my favourite coffee stop on 10th Street, Third Rail, then walk to Tompkins Square to watch the dogs play in the park. The afternoon is usually spent wandering West Village followed by a film in the evening.