Undress ‘UNITE’ Ambassador: Ntombi Moyo
We recently sat down with Ntombi Moyo, an incredible stylist and creative director from Melbourne. Her work is striking, expressive, inclusive and confident - we couldn't have chosen a better Ambassador for our UNITE value. Keep reading to hear some fantastic insight into her career, her philosophy and where the industry is headed...
How did your career within the fashion industry get started?
As a young girl, I worked in fashion head offices, stores and stock control. I styled artists in my spare time. In my later years, I was working in a fashion photography studio. I always loved creating visual content and the departments that come together within photography, styling, hair and makeup. I always felt like the missing element in the shoots we were doing was good styling. I started styling out of necessity to increase the standard of work within our fashion photography shoots.
Being Southern African and moving to Australia in 2005, we would love to get your perspective on the Australian fashion scene. How does it differ to South Africa?
The fashion scene back home is really popping but I feel as though access to the really editorial designers is really hard for the general community. I feel as though the Australian fashion scene is really safe, but that is definitely influenced by my personal experiences, having had the opportunity to work in the States and in Europe. I really appreciate the creative emerging designers from RMIT, they keep the local scene really interesting.
Be your unique, weird, eccentric self.
We love your flair! Who do you look up to style wise and who inspires you?
I definitely love June Ambrose and the looks she has put forward for music videos for the likes of Missy Elliot and others. An icon in my eyes.
What is your style philosophy?
I really believe in more is more. I love dramatic, eccentric, fearless and expressive style. I love the characters that can be formed and the different moods that can be translated.
Your work oozes confidence. The people you work with demonstrate such strength and swagger. Have you always had this inner confidence? And how do you channel this energy on set?
I love to have a good time - I always dance and play the music I enjoy on set! I am myself wherever I go and anyone who works with me knows to expect that. I have to have fun while I work, that is what has kept me enjoying my work for so long. I have always been myself whether that oozes inner confidence or joy etc, I am just me and everyone labels it however they can relate it to.
What is your favourite shoot to date, and why?
It is usually my latest work, as I try and elevate myself with each project. I just shot with Rico Nasty in L.A. She is so open creatively and is the perfect canvas who carries looks to greater heights. Her combined enthusiasm to explore editorial hair and makeup, elevated the entire shoot.
What is it about the fashion industry that you love and what needs to change?
I love the creative community that it has allowed me access to. We may be different but we meet on sets or projects with a combined creative objective. Everything we are outside of the project and our differences become a lot more miniscule. It really helps me connect with all sorts of people, it gives us a language that we all speak and when we fuse passion with it, it's the best feeling. What we need more of is more people of colour and more plus size representation!
What is the most valuable lesson your career has taught you so far?
The crippling balance of working within a budget when your ideas are much larger than your resources. I am still learning not to sacrifice my personal life for the sake of the project by putting in personal finances to get it to the standard that I would be happy to put my name on. I now opt to refuse projects if I cannot create something that I am proud of if the budget is too limiting.
The industry is (finally) catching onto diverse representation and inclusion, but where do you think the most work is still left to go?
Are they really catching on or is diversity currently on trend and everyone doesn't want to be left behind? Are they also hiring and uplifting these people of colour as the faces of their brands but also extending jobs for them behind the scenes? I think a lot of work is left to go with decolonising the industry and understanding the systems in place that constantly narrates the view of beauty standards in Australia. We need to start unpacking the minor aggressions and understanding the difference between allowing a platform to be curated by the people concerned, as opposed to appropriating and calling that appreciating cultures. We need to be allowing people of colour to narrate their creativity and expression within the industry and support it financially and socially. This is a big question with a big answer.
“I think a lot of work is left to go with decolonising the industry and understanding the systems in place that constantly narrates the view of beauty standards in Australia. We need to start unpacking the minor aggressions and understanding the difference between allowing a platform to be curated by the people concerned, as opposed to appropriating and calling that appreciating cultures. We need to be allowing people of colour to narrate their creativity and expression within the industry and support it financially and socially. “
What advice do you have for people coming into the industry?
Be your unique, weird, eccentric self. We are within a really safe industry in Australia, so don't be afraid to be fully expressive despite what your peers are doing. Eventually they will respect you.
What is your ultimate career goal?
To have a fully operational production company. Under this I will have a studio where we shoot stills and music videos. The deliveries of the editorial stills content will be showcased within my fashion photography magazine.