Sydney stylist Mason Browne is the ultimate slashie; with a career that spans 14 years in the entertainment and hospitality industries, the self confessed Instagram addict and now-stylist – among other roles in writing and production design – has certainly had his finger in many pies. Drawing inspiration from just about everywhere, he finds solace in books when he’s in a rutt. “There is nothing better… just grab a heap of really heavy art, design, fashion and photography books, camp out and just absorb the imagery”. Here’s a few more things I learnt about this man about town.
His childhood wasn’t exactly typical | “I used to get home from school and instead of watching television, my mum would hand me a half made costume and get me to run it through the over-locker. At one stage, nearly every member of my family, including all four of my sisters, my father and my brother-in-law had his or her hand in the costumes”.
The path to styling wasn’t very direct | “I trained as a dancer, took singing lessons and took part in community theatre. I ended up taking a more challenging path of study that was presented to me, plunging myself into the three year vortex that is the NIDA’s design course; tough to get into and absolute hell to get through… it really made me grow up and open my eyes”.
Above: A breathtaking styling job Mason worked on for the Melbourne Cup.
Sometimes you have to start small | “I worked as an assistant (an important rite of passage) to established theatre and production designers, before struggling along on my own as a set and costume designer. Around three years ago my current position was presented to me and I remember thinking ‘hey, yeah… I can do that!’ So I guess what I do now is a hybrid of all the things I’ve learnt”.
As a stylist, there is a certain pressure to have a well-styled home | “It might come from a need to always excite my guests or be unpredictable in all things creative. Mostly I just want it to look a little different each time a friend comes to visit. Sometimes it’s just a matter of flowers. I’m forever changing the centrepiece on my dining table, which is really just a by-product of what I do for a living”.
His current home style is an eclectic flux | “But that might be simply because I can’t make up my mind on things, so I just keep collecting seemingly disparate elements and styling them together. Right now, I’ve got a mix of reclaimed industrial and vintage elements, bric-a-brac, memorabilia and books”.
ABOVE: Pictures from Mason’s home. The dining area top left has been captured in Megan Morton’s Home Love book. I am personally obsessed with the cushions on that couch bottom right!
His obsession right now is what he calls ‘golden ages of travel’ | “Which is basically a curated clutter of telescopes, globes, astrolabes, maps and binoculars. A couple of years ago I rescued an original tram roll from my father’s shed; something he may (or may not) have stolen from a tram yard in 1961. I absolutely love it and will always have it on display”.
You have to make your home a reflection of you | “Surround yourself with the things that define you as a person, the things that make it feel like home and the things that you love. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. If you love that 1970’s crochet rug (I know I do!), make it yours”.
Sometimes styling gets ugly | “There are events that I look back on where I’ve been backed into a corner to accommodate a request and sometimes the centrepiece or a stage look is the tackiest thing on the planet. That’s just the reality of what we do. I just remember another talented stylist’s words ‘sometimes, you just have to make something ugly’.”.
A stylist never really switches off when out and about | “I’m always spending half the time analysing and defining details … encoding for use later down the line. I wouldn’t say I critique the decor; perhaps I just try to understand it”.
Styling for friends can get emotional | “Recently I was a wedding planner and stylist to my two closest friends. It was truly the best wedding… ever. There was great deal of effort, care and attention by loved ones and of course all the emotion that goes along with it. I remember the tears began during sound-checks pre-ceremony and I had to give myself a pep-talk to get my shit together before seeing the bride and readying her for the procession. I’ll never, ever forget that day”.
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