Going out for any occasion, whether it be a glamorous event or just popping down to the milk bar, you won’t see Christie Nicolaides without bright red lips, two or three pieces of jewellery or a colourful printed dress.
Her signature style isn’t just an expression of herself, but her business too.
The 27-year-old stylist and jeweller has created quite a name for herself in the sunny state, booking and styling some household names.
She’s an integral cog for local brand Easton Pearson, styles editorials for the media, shops for high paying ladies, and is launching a jewellery business.
She is known as the queen of accessories, able to bring out sometimes drab pieces with bold and chunky jewellery or a perfectly matched hat or bag.
Her love of fashion and all things colour can be tracked back to her Greek roots and her very fashionable grandmother.
“My grandmother and great- grandmother were incredibly stylish,” she tells Neos Kosmos.
“I think that comes from Athens, when you see those beautiful women walking around the Kolonaki, they’ve got this very Athenian look, very well groomed, they have their hair done, their nails done and there’s been this focus on beautiful eyewear and handbags, and that’s always been a big part of my life.”
She still holds a couple of key pieces that she was handed down from her grandmother’s collection. Married to the Nicolaides that started Sullivan &
Nicolaides pathology, Christie’s grandmother was constantly attending conferences in exotic locations, which helped her indulge in her fashion passion.
“From my grandmother’s closet, I’ve got these beautiful vintage Leonard Paris dresses that she bought in the early eighties. They’re very traditional Leonard,
they’ve got the most beautiful floral print on them, and Leonard was in its heyday in the ’80s,” she says.
“They’ve come back into fashion, which I’m not that happy about.”
Despite being a third generation Greek Australian, Christie’s ties with Greece are quite special.
She comes from the Greek diplomatic elite in Brisbane, with deep ties in the growing Greek community of Queensland in the early 1900s.
Her great-grandfather, Christy Freeleagus, she says was in fact the first Consul of Greece in Brisbane from 1919-1957. After years of service, his son Alex Freeleagus (Christie’s great uncle) took hold of the job until 2005.
“Having a consul general in the family, you can’t really avoid it, it’s a big part of our lives,” she says.
“I’m definitely Australian but I love my ties with Greece.”
Landing a job for retail giant Westfield in the heart of Brisbane was the start of Christie Nicolaides as a stylist.
Originally juggling a degree in journalism, art and fashion, and working for dream brand Easton Pearson, Christie never saw herself becoming a stylist, but applied for anything and everything to do with the fashion world.
“When you go to fashion school they always say to you don’t do it for the money because you’re not going to make much money. That never worried me, I was just always thrilled to get a job,” she says.
At Westfield, she got a real taste of just how many hats she had to juggle being a stylist.
She would immerse herself in personal styling, MCing, fashion parades, editorial work and online content, saying yes to everything.
Getting star struck never was a problem for Christie, realising early that styling celebrities is never as rewarding as styling the everyday woman.
“The most exciting people are really the clients that come to me that have had a really big life change, like they’ve gone through divorce, they’ve lost 20 kilos
or they’ve just had a baby and they’re trying to find their style again,” she admits.
“They come to me and they really want to learn.”
Getting someone to let go of their preconceived notions of their personal style, what looks good on them and what doesn’t is the biggest hurdle when Christie styles.
Giving people an alternative to their usual fashion habits and giving them an experienced second opinion makes for an easy job.
“The most rewarding thing is when someone comes out of the change room and they’re wearing something they’d never wear and they’ve looked at themselves and say, ‘oh I look great!’.”
Christie’s appreciation for clothing isn’t just because she has a keen eye for fashion; it’s about being able to see how clothing can express someone’s personality.
People come out of their shells, or try on a different personality for the day. Clothes can comfort people, make them relax (just think of every time you get into your pyjamas); they can make you look older, more sophisticated or just more presentable.
“Clothes are here to make us feel better and feel confident when we walk into a room,” she says.
Clothing can easily overtake a style session, and Christie sometimes finds it hard to convince her clients to fork out for accessories. It’s something she
takes pride in, watching her clients’ eyes light up when a colourful accessory makes the outfit.
“My theory has always been with women, you can have the same black dress but if you have the right accessories, you can change it a hundred different ways,” she says.
Her foray into the jewellery business was in fact a direct response to the difficulty she would find in trying to source particular pieces for herself and her clients.
Her pop up store Gypset (an amalgamation of gypsy and jetset) last year became such a success that it gave her the push to go overseas and speak to manufacturers directly.
In Turkey and Greece, Christie sourced enamellers, silversmiths and people specialising in semi-precious stones to make her jewellery stand out.
Always a fan of costume jewellery, her own range harks back to the Byzantium, with lots of gold and colourful stones.
“I’m a true Greek, I love my gold,” she says with a laugh.
A lot of her jewellery is gold dipped, bringing an opulent feel to her range, something she feels is making quite a comeback.
Post global financial crisis, the mood has eased and there has been more demand for more extravagant shows of wealth.
At least with Christie’s jewellery, it has a champagne look while appealing to a beer budget.
Her years as a stylist and working in retail have given her quite an eye for what sells well and what is in demand.
“All the time spent in shops and retail stores has allowed me to see what sells and what appeals to most women and the little things, like do people like gold or silver more, or how many people have clip-on earrings or have pierced ears,” she says.
“All of that has been very valuable.”
A convert to social media, her Instagram account is one of the biggest points of sale for her jewellery range. While she’s working on launching her online store in the coming months, Instagram is helping fuel the demand.
“You’ve got this market of people shopping while you’re in bed, it’s quite amazing,” she says.
After the popularity of her first pop up store, Christie is looking to launch another Gypset pop up store in October which will give her clients and fans a chance to sample her designs first hand.
For more information visit christienicolaides.com.au and instagram.com/christienicolaides