It was perfect timing that just as we launched our brand new Interiors section, Melbourne doyenne Fiona Myer was kind enough to open up her beautiful Toorak home to us. She shared how her career began as a model in Paris (it’s not always glamorous, but it makes for a great story) and the path that has led her to her current cherished roles as founder and creative director of White Story, and long-time patron of the Victorian art scene. And yes, she tells us all about her go-to beauty products she uses to create her favoured “less is more” look, and some affordable ways to bring the outside into your own home.
“I found myself in Paris at 21 after being head hunted to join the Glamour agency.
From there I travelled to some obscure parts of the world and have some amazing memories. Fashion shows on jumbo jets. Work in Beirut the day before war broke out. Barbados shooting swimwear, when the boat ran out of fuel while I was water skiing. I landed in a coral reef filled with sea urchin tentacles, and they took me off the shoot while I had each tentacle burned out over many days. There were hoax appointments, getting locked in cage lifts, a skiing shoot when the gondola closed due to high wind (the ski patrol was closed too, so we were left swaying recklessly well into the night). On that occasion I was lucky, because the shoot was for Courrèges and I was laden with fur coats. My clients included Yves Saint Laurent, Revillon, Sprung Frères... life was never dull.
After a good stint in Paris I came home to Australia, ready for a more grounded career.
Deciding to take a huge pay cut from modelling, I started work at the Georges Department Store in the promotions department. Outside of my life in Paris, Georges was my exposure to the world of couture. It was intoxicating working with the likes of Dior, Fendi, Lanvin, Givenchy and Celine. I was then headhunted down to Myer in Bourke Street to work as a fashion forecaster. After running a number of small businesses including luxury homewares from Myanmar and a collection of furniture, sleep wear and accessories, I have now taken on my biggest challenge of all: White Story.
It’s no surprise that retailing is a tough business, especially now.
We employ a vibrant, young team – I have emphasised employing people under 30. With my kids living away, it is the young team at White Story that get me out of bed in the morning. I feel needed and have a purpose. Without them realising it, they are keeping me young while teaching me the way of Gen Y.
It’s my hope that in my small way, White Story can provide a platform for young people to move seamlessly from student life, to their first internship and subsequently their first job.
My approach to beauty is simply less is more.
You would think after all those years of modelling I would apply makeup generously, but no - perhaps it was because I had it put on for me for all those years by professionals. One thing is for sure: the older you get, the less time you want to spend applying makeup.
My daily routine always starts with washing my face in cold water and drinking a glass of warm water. I head off for a swim, then shower with Alpha Keri oil and moisturise with Actinica SPF 50+ lotion. Then I apply La Mer foundation, a light brush of bronzer, Trish McEvoy mascara and I’m out the door.
My go-to shop for cosmetics has to be Mecca.
Jo Horgan and her team have nailed it. It’s easy, it’s accessible and it has every brand and product I could possibly want, including my favourite Diptyque oversized candles. My favourite perfume is a toss up depending on my mood, though I like Laurent Mazzone Parfums O Des Soupirs or Diptyque Oyédo. I think Kiehl’s makes the ultimate hand cream, and in terms of treatments I always have Clarins Gentle Peeling Smooth Away Cream to hand. Then there is good old Dermaveen Soap Free Wash which I use as a makeup remover and finally BAKEL makeup remover for eyes (Ed. note: not currently available in Australia). What else is in my kit? By Terry’s Hyaluronic Hydra Primer, Trish McEvoy blush, NARS Orgasm blush, Trish McEvoy highlighter, and the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil.
My personal style is pared-back, clean and uncluttered – the way I would like to think my mind is!
My wardrobe is quite androgynous. Weekend wear is Givenchy menswear shirts and hipster jeans. Unwashed hair with little or no make up. After all, we spend our weekends at our farm and usually see no one. When it comes to dressing up, I’m in maxi evening pinafore dresses, either with a crisp white shirt or combining black organza and velvet. For the most part my go-to designers are young and unknown Japanese designers. When I’m committed to shopping I’m heading straight to Comme des Garçons, The Row, Victoria Beckham and Celine.
As I head towards 60 next November, I feel so blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband who keeps me sane.
We relax together. Week nights are bliss at home on our own. We light the fire in winter in my study, set the table at my old French leather desk, open up a full bodied red and say ahhhh - we talk for hours. Everything gets covered off in a full night: kids, holidays, White Story, the farm; there’s never nothing to talk about. It’s truthfully my favourite thing to do. My husband is after all my best friend. My other best friends are all living away – my children! The three of them are working either interstate or overseas, and I feel fortunate that they are all pursuing exciting opportunities and making own futures.
I used to meditate religiously and I must get back into it. I’ve had a couple of months off and it shows. I’m so much calmer and more focused when I meditate.
I have always loved exercise. I swim daily come winter or summer – it is non-negotiable.
I walk to work and often meet a friend for brekky along the way. I am definitely not a gym junkie and gave Pilates away years ago. I need to be outdoors.
I usually cook fish at home (normally salmon) with my own marinade of ginger, garlic, Tamari sesame oil, and maple syrup. I serve it with masses of wok veggies and my sweet potato purée, with added fresh ginger and a dash of sesame oil.
I’m lucky to have some wonderful health practitioners that help me through life.
I regularly have acupuncture and see a wonderful chiropractor. I have a weekly NET session with my kinesiologist to clear everything out. I just don’t have time to let small things get in my way. I also visit a bio-energiticist to keep me in check. Most GPs don’t get alternative healers. I find that my team sees the stuff doctors don’t find until you really have a problem.
I have been collecting art over 30 years, and for almost 20 years have supported the Victorian College of the Arts and Victoria University with scholarships, travel grants and awards for the students.
VU generously awarded me an honorary doctorate in recognition of this. Our family’s works are a mixture from emerging artists from VCA and VU, as well as locally and internationally recognised artists, sculptors and ceramicists. These include Polly Bolland, John Young, Peter Demetrius, Frog King, Robert Hunter, Philip Hunter, Chiharu Shiota, Yayoi Kusama, and Dale Frank to name a few. I also try and visit Hong Kong Art Basel annually.
We host a Dom Pérignon event each year, and I think this will be our fifth year.
It all happened many years ago when the wonderful Deeta Colvin approached me. I love designing and visual merchandising and find large events like this so much fun to create. Each year I think up a theme, and we might feature anything from race horses at the party to models weaving through the crowds in our latest collection. I invite family and friends, business associates, people from the fashion industry, artists, politicians - the lot. It makes for an eclectic party and each person invited is a loyal Dom Pérignon drinker.
Time not always being my best friend means inevitable last minute decisions – me running around right up until it starts is not unusual. Don’t laugh, but because the table arrangements are important to me I usually have the tables set days before so I can add and subtract until I feel happy. It’s a bit like sculpting my pots, you just don’t quite know what you’re going to get until it’s finished. Though mistakes are usually my best works.
Our house really comes to life when it is filled with plants and flowers.
I like to bring inside whatever is in season. Although my life mantra is “less is more”, when it comes to floral arrangements and interiors in general I believe bountiful and generous is the way to go. For instance, I use masses of lilies (up to ten bunches) in one glass vessel. Whatever I use, I use in bulk. Whether it be burnt oak leaves or fruit, I stick to one variety and have multiples, which I find harmonious and peaceful. It’s less complicated and definitely no fuss.
They say “build a house, make a home”, and in my experience it takes years to truly make a home.
There are transitional periods in life (and in the state of your home) such as when or if you decide to have a family. As my family knows, a favourite line of mine is, “it’s a journey not a destination” - so even though now it’s just my husband and I here, I’m still making a home and I’m definitely still making a life. I want to bring on the next chapter with vigour and strength, and most of all, with love.”
Story by Zoe Briggs. Photography by Neiyo.