Kitty wears Christian Wijnants, throughout. Here, the Tumas shirt in teal silk is emblazoned with the season's bouquet floral print, with textural contrast from the Pleats Please turtle neck in optic white.
Collagist, photographer, and girl-about-town Kitty Callaghan has captured the imagination of Australia’s fashion community with her signature melding of nostalgic and contemporary pop sensibilities into compellingly eclectic imagery. Dilettante’s Caeley Wesson caught up with the Sydneysider to ruminate on creative life past and present.
Photography by Traianos Pakioufakis
Artwork by Kitty Callaghan
using swatches from new season Christian Wijnants
Caeley: Hey Kit, it was over a year ago we were sipping wine from teacups in a park in Potts Point during the first lockdown. So much has changed since then! What are the memorable milestones from the year that was?
Kitty: That reminder feels a little like groundhog day, given the situation we’re still in here in Sydney! This past year has been one of immense growth for me personally. Leaning into the things that have been hard especially given the pandemic, doing my best to overcome them and grow through it all. I am very proud to have worked on and had a show opening at China Heights Gallery during that time. It was only open for a week before we went back into lockdown but it feels lucky to have had that week given the number of shows, gigs, events and personal milestones for creatives and those across so many different industries that have been postponed for now.
Covid and the displacement it has caused has brought up themes around connectivity, and how we maintain meaningful relationships whilst far away from each other. It’s been so nice to forge this creative connection with you whilst living in different states! How has the digital landscape helped you maintain connection?
I have felt disconnected in ways, however at the same time connected virtually, and maybe more connected to myself as a result, which is a nice thing too. Both lockdowns I have felt connected creatively through being a part of community art shows online – for example this current lockdown my friend Rachel Knepfer curated an art show at her friend Hugh Stewart’s Gallery in Woollahra that I am so happy to be a part of. It features works from some of the most talented photographers in Australia. You can drive by in your car to see it here in Sydney – it’s been so nice to see beautiful images adorning the windows and it felt inspiring to be a part of something like that.
You’ve created these beautiful collages for us using swatches of fabric from the new Christian Wijnants collection. How do you find connections between imagery when you’re creating a collage?
I guess connection for me when I make collages and art is something that’s difficult to explain – it just feels right when it does. Certainly, in this situation it was great to have had the physical swatches as a tactile experience when creating – the fabrications that Christian uses are such beautiful quality and it felt so nice to work with them to make a physical collage rather than something digital as I usually do when I work with fashion designers to make pieces.
Collage is a bit of an under-represented medium these days! What do you find compelling about it, and what made you first pick up the scissors?
My favourite thing about collage is that you can create depth in an image that you often you can’t achieve when you take a photo. It’s a combination of creating your own story by combining images together and leaving some elements to the imagination. I like to take photos too, so I love to work between the two mediums as they’re so different, but both come from a love of working in a hugely visual way.
What role do the themes of ritual, extravagance and play have in your life at the moment?
My ritual during lockdown is a morning walk and 16-20 laps depending on the temp of the water (it’s freezing at the moment!). I have been swimming in the sea pretty much every day this winter, it has done wonders for my mental health and keeping me calm through the uncertainty. It’s my time to think, I find it meditative. Extravagance – probably having a beautiful glass of wine and indulging in the food I love, I’ve also been cooking a bunch. Play – I guess for me it’s exercise at the moment – I enjoy it so much. There isn’t much in the way of “play” in my routine – I have been trying to keep focused. Maybe a facetime with friends is the closest I get to a fun night out..! And that’s ok, because I know so many are experiencing things so much worse than us here in Australia.
Your style has always been so perfectly you. How would you describe it?
Thank you! I have always loved wearing colours and prints and haven’t been afraid to wear things that stand out, always with a vintage twist. I guess I love modern brands that embrace heritage (if they’ve been around for decades) or vintage silhouettes, and now more than ever I believe in buying second-hand or from sustainable brands with the environment in mind.
Imagine yourself in a world with no boundaries, where would we find you and more importantly, what would you be wearing (and eating)?
I lived in Paris for a stint so I am longing for time over there. I am loving “less is more” as a way of dressing lately, I would love a beautiful vintage tailored suit from Chanel or Prada to wear a million different ways, always with a little bit of colour.
What has surprised you lately?
It’s sad to say it but, it has really surprised me – the last few months more than ever, to see how slowly our government is responding to the climate emergency. On a more positive note, I’ve been surprised by the resilience of so many of my friends and the community at large during this pandemic – and by the work I have been lucky enough to sustain throughout this time (working with Dilettante included) – so thank you!
Kitty wears matching Tiago top and Peruna trousers, both in lightweight, lime-green bouquet print silk.
A/S/L has now translated to S/M/R ( Sun, Moon, Rising) – tell us, what are yours?
I'm a Cancer sun, Leo moon, and Leo rising.
If you could wear one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Thinking of a brand I’d love to wear for life… possibly Prada! Or Comme des Garçons, or Marni...
We’d love you take you on a tour of Perth soon, even if it is virtual. Where would your first stop be?
I would love that! I have heard so much about Perth for most of my life as my Dad used to spend time there and I have dear friends over there. First stop would be Dilettante! I have heard so much about your store for so many years. I’d also love to see the coastline – seeing the sunset on the ocean would be very special - we only see it on the water for sunrise on the east coast!
Throughout, Kitty wears new season Christian Wijnants. See the collection here.
You can see more of Kitty's work at her Instagram.
This story was produced and photographed prior to Sydney's August lockdowns. We wish all our readers happiness and health.