One of my favorite hobbies—albeit one you can’t exactly list on a dating profile—is scrolling through Instagram for cool, incredibly stylish women who don’t have a gazillion followers, brand ambassador contracts, or instant name recognition (well, yet, at least). I imagine it’s kind of like how hipsters scour music blogs for bands the rest of us haven’t heard of yet—except instead of gloating about it, I mostly just want everyone else to see how rad they are, too.
One such discovery lately was Lauren Kennedy Malpas, a stylist and art director based in Paris whose killer layering game, sense of color, and taste in over-the-top earrings I recognized from Fashion Week street-style galleries. Amid a parade of head-to-toe runway looks and so-hip-it-hurts streetwear, her style stood out: It was interesting, but not outlandish; pretty, but never safe.
Born in Australia and raised across Asia, she’s worked with such clients as ASOS, Colette, Stella McCartney, and Sonia Rykiel, and her portfolio shows the same knack for prints and proportions that her outfits do. If that didn’t seal the deal, there was her wedding outfit: a two-piece Proenza Schouler number that I (along with many other fashion nerds) obsessed over after it opened the brand’s Spring 2016 show—and which, no offense to the designers, looked even better styled with bauble-studded sandals and round clip-on earrings.
Read on to get to know the stylist—from her dad’s eBay obsession to the brands she’s coveting most right now—and follow her on Insta at @its_laurenkennedy.
StyleCaster: How did you get started in the fashion industry?
Lauren Kennedy Malpas: Super spontaneously. Seven years ago, a girlfriend and I threw a blossom-themed fundraiser for Japan, and following this flamboyantly floral labor of love, the phone started ringing for all kinds of fashion collaborations … so I listened to the universe and rolled with it!
How would you describe your style?
Playful, quirky, feminine. I could experiment with clothes until the cows come home. That’s my happy place. As a kid, I would easily change looks three times day. It would drive my mum mad.
Subconsciously, I mix something vintage into every outfit. I have closetsful of family hand-me-downs—it’s as if I’m betraying their legacy if I don’t have something vintage on. Stemming from that sentiment, I don’t like feeling too squeaky clean and new. There has to be some kind of history to the outfit, something offbeat, some kind of soul.
What are your favorite fashion- or style-related Instagram accounts to follow?
I think I speak on behalf of a lot of us when I say I’m a @ManRepeller fangirl. Then there’s @c__l__o, who curates beautiful glimpses of the latest runways, campaigns, and editorials. And finally @ettoresottsass to feed my vintage interior pangs.
What’s the last thing you bought?
Floral embroidered overalls on sale from House of Holland. You can’t not be happy when you’re wearing them. So much fun.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever scored on eBay?
My dad is obsessed with buying women’s vintage fashion on eBay—and he finds the most unusual pieces, so that’s a tough question. The vintage gold metallic bomber jacket by Escada or the nappa leather “pierced” biker jacket (also Escada) or the Salvatore Ferragamo handmade metallic bucket bag.… I count my lucky stars; thanks, Dad 🌟
What are you most excited to wear this summer?
The summer that never came! It’s almost July in Paris and I’m still wearing my Wanda Nylon raincoat.
What’s your favorite layering trick lately?
Lately, I’m throwing my ruffled VICTORIA / TOMAS leather waistcoat over everything—T-shirts, dresses, button-up shirts. In one ruffled sweep—bam—outfit complete.
What’s your signature scent?
After years of playing around, I have recently reunited with Thierry Mugler’s Alien.
What’s the one thing you’d never wear?
The staple of basically every Australian I know: flip flops! Blurgh!
What up-and-coming fashion brands do you think everyone should know?
Free and fun-spirited Julian Zigerli; Milan’s pop darling Marianna Senchina; cool yet feminine French duo VICTORIA / TOMAS; Maia Bergman and her beautifully beaded world.
What did you wear to your wedding, and how did you choose it?
After hours of scouring the web and the stores, I became besotted by Proenza Schouler. I can’t tell you how confident & womanly that outfit made me feel. Their designs embody the strength of a woman, yet are still so effortlessly feminine. I wore embellished Pucci heels to turn up the playfulness, and Viveka Bergstrom silver sphere clip-ons.
For the ceremony at the temple, I went super romantic. I wore a custom-made ivory chiffon dress—off-the-shoulder, draped back. My parents live in Ho Chi Minh, so I teamed up with a tailor over there. I used the wedding as a very legit excuse (!) to buy gold bow heels from Delpozo, paired with gold baroque drop-pearl earrings by Christian Lacroix.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Paris?
Apart from its outrageous beauty, I’m very grateful for that fact that it’s strange if you don’t eat croissants and pains au chocolat for breakfast. It basically sums up the whole French philosophy on life: “la joie de vivre”—to enjoy every little moment.