Close Up Interview with Fashion Stylist & Costume Designer Vanessa Loh

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.


Vanessa Loh

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with clothing. Growing up, my Mother had a great collection of fashion she kept from her early 20’s, which I later grew to appreciate and wear myself. Unique jewellery and un-used fabric samples, collected from her worldly travels are part of my personal collection now. Amongst many other influences, I think foremost my Mother instilled a sense of style, presentation, flair and a curiosity in cloth. And so it continues…

I have been working as a Wardrobe Stylist/Costume Designer for film & television projects for over 10 years. After starting my professional life in fashion styling I found my true calling in motion film after delving into music videos. I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside many notable Australian bands including Silverchair, Missy Higgins, The Sleepy Jackson, Little Birdy, Tim Finn & The Grates.

Daniel Johns _ Silverchair

Daniel Johns – Silver Chair

Through this platform I moved into television commercial work. And in more recent years have been concentrating on long form projects (TV drama series & Film), with a primary focus in celebrating characters & narrative through filmmaking.

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your business?

The creative and talented people I’m privileged to work alongside. I love the process of collaborating with directors & actors to seek truth and realism in characters.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you design or Style?

Immediate inspiration comes from deeply understanding the characters and storyline through the script I’m working from (taking things straight off the page). Then there’s a jump to drawing comparisons with other film characters, musicians, artists, real people and fashion trends to start building a character’s wardrobe or costume. I find daily inspiration from my friends, fashion & lifestyle blogs, street trends, art, film & television series, photography and travel.

SLiDE Foxtel series

SLIDE Foxtel Series

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

Creative,Optimistic, Gentle, Loyal, Fun.

Describe your day in your business?

No one-day is the same. Usually always fast & furious! A TV series or film project often has the feeling of a beginning, middle & end. The beginning is the inception stage, a time for digesting, conceptualising & processing. The middle is constant, schedule driven and exhausting. The end remains busy, with the winding down of ‘creating’ and more time to step back and appreciate the fruits of your labour.

A usual day in the costume world consists of liaising with the director, producer, other crew members & your team, setting a number of tasks and prioritising a list, having costume fittings with actors, sourcing, making or project managing a number of costumes on the go, re-reading the script based on script amendments that come through from the writer/director & network, making sure your on-set crew have everything they need for the day and looking ahead!

The Strange Calls ABC series

The Strange Call- ABC Series

What is your biggest frustration as a designer & Stylist?

Time! Lack there of, often based on short turn arounds. Having to create or produce something authentic and high quality in little time is a big frustration. Money and budget restraints are also challenging but can also give way to creativity.

Tell us about how you prioritise your work.

I’m a bit of an extremist. When I’m on a project it’s ON…all consumed by it. When I’m OFF, not contracted to one, I’m on ‘holidays’. Luckily I work consistently and in between projects I network, often I need the break and enjoy the downtime. These in-between periods also give way to travel adventures.

How do you connect with other artists, and your clients (i.e. how do you network)?

Face to face, I try to connect with clients / companies / other crewmembers in person if I can. Additionally through social media, Facebook is a good way of keeping up to date on what people are up to professionally & socially ie. Film releases.

HugoWeavingMystery Road

Hugo Weaving- Mystery Road

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

Believe in your abilities. Keep at it. Seek support from others in your area and find a mentor.

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?

Balance – I’d like to try to create a more level lifestyle between juggling my personal life and work duties. Fortunately I love what I do so despite being work biased it hasn’t exhausted me yet. Eventually I would like to build a side business of creating home wares or textiles by providing marginalised communities the opportunity to create and be part of a business.

What is your proudest moment so far?

Each new project is a triumph. I’m always working on something different, learning new skills and creatively problem solving. However my most favourite project to date was costume designing Australian western genre film ‘Mystery Road’. Ivan Sen, writer/director is an incredible filmmaker. He provides a unique voice for indigenous communities of Australia. We shot most of the film over 5 weeks, inland in a small country town called ‘Winton’. The filming and pre-production on this remote job, away from home provided a platform for much professional & personal development.

Mystery Road on location

Mystery Road on location

Who do you most want to meet and why?

This is always such a hard question! Many different people, for different reasons. Despite attending a few of his teachings, it would be very special to meet his holiness The Dalai Lama one on one.

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

To love, embrace and treasure the time you have with your loved ones. Life is too short.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

‘Just Kids’ – Patti Smith

Where do we find you & your services?

Portfolio –

Booking agent – Crew Tube (07) 3391 6114 /

Mystery Road poster

Mystery Road Poster





Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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