To understand the full scope of Nicole Warne's influence, a bit of number-crunching is required.
At the time of going to print, the founder of wildly successful style blog Gary Pepper (known as e-commerce store Gary Pepper Vintage until a rebrand in 2012) was the 1,425th most popular Instagram account... in the world!
In a few short years, Warne has transcended from a vintage reseller living on Australia's Central Coast to globetrotting face of the Gary Pepper brand, growing her empire one artfully curated outfit post at a time.
More often than not, behind the lens is her surf photographer fiance Luke Shadbolt, who orchestrated a dream marriage proposal as they skimmed across a Tokyo lake in April, surrounded by blossoming cherry trees. "I probably should have seen it (the proposal) coming because of how carefully and beautifully he set up the photo opp but it honestly didn't cross my mind. I was so shocked," Warne tells ELLE. The months since have been "hard", with Warne in New York and Shadbolt travelling for work, but that's how it goes when you're leading the pack of self-styled "digital influencers".
The 26-year-old was the first blogger to sign with talent agency IMG and has secured creative partnerships with a multitude of fashion and beauty brands, including Parfums Christian Dior -- hence her trip to Cannes to French house and attend the label's Cruise show. (Consider her 10-year plan for a "Gary Pepper cafe or hotel, where the aesthetic is so strong you know exactly what atmosphere to expect", a done deal.) Post-ELLE shoot, in the gardens of Dior's Le Clos de Callian, Warne shares the style secrets behind her million-strong social media following.
DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF BLACK
CLASSIC DOESN'T NEED TO BE BORING
"Peek into my wardrobe and you'' find a lot of tailored pieces in cream, grey, navy and taupe: shirts, pants, coats... Classic doesn't equal 'boring', as some people think, but 'versatile'. They're the pieces you go back to time and time again because they look amazing worked with just about anything. As much as it sucks, a 'forever piece' will always come with a higher price tag than something seasonal you've picked up at Zara. So, on to my next point...'
INVEST IN FASHION WISELY
"For most of us, building a collection of good-quality pieces isn't an overnight process -- it takes years and a lot of saving. I've made that a focus of my wardrobe for the past two to three years, building up my collection little by little. For me, the order of priority is: bags (I love Dior, and only recently bought my first Chanel -- a new take on the 2.55, quilted in a chevron pattern), shoes (I own a lot of quirky ones), coats (if I see a good cut, I won't think twice about buying it), cocktail dresses and staples like blazers, cigarette trousers, tailored shirts and cashmere jumpers (the best and most affordable I've found are by Uniqlo). Once you've invested a lot of money in a piece you love, the prospect of doing so again is a lot less scary -- so yes, it's addictive!"
SEE OUT FRESH LABELS
"Dior, Louis Vuitton and Valentino are all powerhouse brands I know produce amazing quality clothing. But I always love discovering up-and-coming designers doing really great things, and I mostly do that via Instagram. So many nights I'm sitting in bed and people are popping up and I'm like, 'Who is that? I've never heard of them before". Shrimps is a new find -- they do a great pink faux-fur coat I fell in love with. Moda Operandi and Shopbop also facilitate a curated introduction to young designers. What I love most about fresh talent is that they often do silhouettes you won't see anywhere else."
PLAN YOUR WARDROBE IN ADVANCE
"I'm a very calculated person, and that applies in busines and my wardrobe. If I have an important meeting or an event to attend, I usually have my ideal outfit nutted out a couple of days in advance. I research the person I'm meeting and the topic of discussion, so I can consider that when I'm sorting my look. Yes, it's important to listen to your mood, but first impressions are crucial so I want to walk into a prospective client meeting or sales pitch feeling like the best version of myself -- and that means wearing a killer outfit that I know is appropriate to the setting. If that's not how you work, try settling on one key piece in advance and then workshop the rest of your look around it on the day of the birthday / christening / job interview."
Originally posted on Elle Magazine