The internet has contributed to the ever-growing pressure of outdoing one another and being bigger and better than those before you. Once upon a time, people planned every detail of their wedding themselves, frantically rearranging seating plans the night before their big day, completely stressing over every minute detail. This is now a thing of the past: it seems everybody has a stylist, and not just for weddings.
I sat down with stylist Valentina Seretis, from Styled By Valentina, as she shared with me some interesting stories, on the lengths people are going to these days, to throw that ultimate party. The one that people will talk about for the following year, well at least until the next one takes its place. Couples are not only hiring stylists for weddings and engagements, it is becoming quite common to see them being used for children’s parties, cake smashes, and even gender reveal parties for expecting couples.
Valentina has been climbing the ranks extremely quickly in the world of party styling, securing some of the most important events of well known Melbourne socialites on her curriculum vitae. Her work is romantic, extremely classy, and meticulously put together, with every detail being well thought out and on trend with what’s ‘hot’ right now. Her attention to detail and ability to successfully fuse colour palettes in a complimentary way, not only shows an evident education in colour theory, but a professional who takes pride in every detail of their work. It’s not hard to see why so many people are hiring her to put together their most special and memorable life events.
I’ve never been one to get caught up in the hype . . . that was until Valentina recently styled a high tea in my home for myself and some friends. It got me wondering if this was something Melbourne’s high society and the likes, did often? And where does one draw the line? Will we be seeing people hire a stylist for their puppy’s party, or to celebrate the loss of a child’s first tooth next, or is this something that is already happening? Valentina shed some light on all the questions I had for her.
What made you want to be a stylist?
Having worked as a visual merchandiser for four years, I had become accustomed to making things look pretty and presentable in stores, coming up with various display ideas and exciting concepts to attract the customer’s eye, as well as merchandising backdrops and displays for The Morning Show. A lot of my work was featured on daytime TV, meaning that there was no room for mistakes.
When I got engaged to my beautiful now husband, I felt as though that paved the way into my event styling career. I went on to style my own events, which evolved into the events of various friends and families and word spread from there to clients.
I do it for the applause; there is no better feeling than being able to help someone replicate their dream on one of the most memorable day of their lives. Watching my clients walk into a room we have so meticulously planned and styled and seeing their reaction is why I do it. There’s no better feeling, whether it be a wedding, christening or first birthday, we treat all our events just as important as the next.
Tell us about your first styling event.
My first ever styling event was our engagement party. I have always been my toughest critic, so it was a way to execute my vision and see if I could succeed in an event-styling world.
Partnered with my parents, who have been in the food industry for over 30 years, we catered and styled an intimate, warm and ultra-classy engagement party. Our dessert buffet on the night was a hit and clients still email referring to it. Our engagement gave me a small taste of what I could do, and I couldn’t get enough.
What other types of parties have you styled?
The list is endless! We have styled first birthdays, engagements, bridal showers, 21st birthdays, christenings; we even styled a client’s Australia Day BBQ graze. Parties are a celebration of a milestone in someone’s life and we always feel honoured to be so deeply invested in it.
What has been your most extravagant party?
We’ve had a few, from a 21st in excess of 200 guests (the size of an average wedding), to a destination christening in Cyprus. We thrive on them; the more extravagant the better! We have various packages to suit various events and budgets, so no matter how big or small we endeavour to work our magic.
Have there been any ridiculous requests? If so what were they?
There is no such thing as ridiculous! Every request is fulfilled, or at least attempted. One story that sticks out as unique was a bride who wanted to arrive at her church on a camel. We did some research and went to visit a farm, but she changed her mind once she realised the smell associated with it. It was quite funny.
Has there been an event that has stood out to you as your favourite?
My own wedding day. I got to style the event the night before and also enjoy it with the love of my life, family, and friends on our special day. It really was my dream day and completely my taste so of course I’m biased.
I noticed on social media you are currently styling the wedding of Shannen Jai Peroomal, can you tell me about it?
Of course! Shannen and James have been a dream to work with. We’ve been planning their beautiful wedding since January and can’t wait to show the world what we’ve come up with. I can’t give away too much, but for anyone who follows or knows Shannen they would know the style and class she has. We have definitely brought that into their wedding day. Shannen and James currently live in Austria as James plays in the international soccer league, so all our planning has been via email and lots of webchats. Shannen was recently in Melbourne for a meeting with us to discuss finer details and we’re all very excited to say the least.
Have you had any really demanding clients? How do you deal with them?
Every client is different and we pride ourselves in the intimacy, interaction and bond we create with our clients. All the clients we’ve had will tell you that we form a relationship with them. I’ve lost count of the late nights I’ve been up with clients discussing finer details, even down to the positioning of a fork. Some clients like being 100 percent involved while others sit back and let us design a concept and idea. We are happy either way, and try to adapt to the client and what they want.
Styled by Valentina is very family-orientated, my husband assists at all events and my mother Niki creates a lot of the desserts in her kitchen, so it seems natural to me to have a very close relationship with out clients. We have had early mornings for bump-in and extremely late nights for bump-out but we have loved every minute of it.
You are currently expecting your first baby, your baby gender reveal looked fun. Has being pregnant slowed you down at all? Do you plan to take a break once the baby is born?
Not at all! Being pregnant has given me more drive to work harder and show our little bundle of joy that persistence and hard work pays off. Let’s be honest, being pregnant means you don’t get much sleep, so that means more time to plan. We are due early October, but will be back up and running within a few months.
Does Styled By Valentina have any big plans on the horizon?
Absolutely! We are always working hard to come up with new and exciting concepts but we are in the middle of launching our own stationery brand, which is very exciting. I definitely count my blessings and thank God for our successes.
If you would like to see more gorgeous imagery from some of the events Valentina has styled, or to book her for your upcoming event, click here.
* Zoe George is The Subtle Mummy. For more, visit thesubtlemummy.com