Australian fashion royalty Heidi Middleton is relishing a creatively-charged new chapter after a period of monumental changes, both personal and professional. Having started sass & bide with co-founder Sarah-Jane Clarke as an ad hoc project in the late ‘90s, the duo sold their remaining stake to Myer in 2014 (the total sale process netted them over $70 million). Heidi and her family then moved to a château in France, giving her the time, space and artistic freedom to revaluate what she wanted, which included returning to her first love, painting. Following her split from her husband in 2017, Heidi has returned to her European palazzo-style home in Sydney’s northern beaches, where she co-parents her two daughters. She welcomed us inside and discussed her matter-of-fact approach to what makes her feel and look her best, and what exactly it is about Artclub, a semi underground, fashion-but-not-as-we-know-it venture stemming from her creative incubation in France, that brings her the most joy.

“I keep my beauty regime pared down. I find that it’s as much about exercise and sleep as it is about using good products. I don’t like anything too time consuming or fiddly.

I start the day by washing my face with Chanel Mousse Visage followed by Chanel Hydra Beauty moisturiser. Then I massage Bio-Oil into the back of my hands.

For both day to day and a special night out, I like a natural look but with a strong eye.

I get my signature eye look very quickly by running a short, fine line of kohl pencil along the inside of my eyes – it’s a tip that a friend from Hong Kong gave me years ago. I love YSL Touche Éclat Shimmer Stick in Copper and Chanel Duo Bronze et Lumire for that healthy glow.

I like things fairly simple when it comes to my hair.

I have it cut at Paloma salon and use Oribe products. After my shower each day, I run COMB Manuka Honey Infused Hair Oil through the ends of my hair.

I have always been very creative. As a child, I wanted be an architect or a fashion designer.

My mum really nurtured my brother and my creativity by doing craft workshops at home and helping us to make things out of discarded household packaging or things we would collect from our backyard. We would spend hours drawing and painting on holidays ­– that was one of my favourite things to do.

After school I studied art, and then worked in advertising as a junior Art Director for several years, before moving across to fashion. Sarah-Jane and I moved to London in the mid-‘90s and starting making clothes and selling them at a market. The demand for what we were creating became so strong that we made the decision to launch sass & bide from Sydney and selling internationally.

I now run a new art and fashion brand called Artclub, and in doing so have really flipped the old fashion business model on its head.

Working in this new realm is something I love. The focus is on creativity in all different mediums, rather than building a big business or on doing anything too fast. The whole thing feels more free and is much gentler on people and the planet. I can’t imagine ever going back to that traditional business model!

My style has evolved over the years, but some of the elements that remain are my love of mixing strength with beauty.

I enjoy balancing the feminine with masculine lines and colours. I do the same when I paint… there needs to be a balance, or a coming together of opposing elements. I think my style is playful and free. I don’t follow any rules. I love to celebrate being a woman.

A favourite piece I have bought recently is my ‘80s lurex swimsuit that I wear as a bodysuit. I bought it while vintage shopping in Rome with my dear friend, Sheree.

HEIDI WEARS THE HERMES SKIRT

I feel my best when I have exercised, have slept well and am sunkissed – not sunburnt!

I find exercise very relaxing, especially outdoors. I run outside twice a week (normally on the soft sand at Palm Beach or Curl Curl) and I do weights at the gym twice a week. Then every Saturday morning I train with Rob Rowland-Smith at Palm Beach. I always stretch before and after any exercise.

As well as running and weights, I really enjoy taking the surf ski out at Palm Beach and paddling point to point for upper body fitness. Painting is also a happy, calming place for me.

I have always believed that looking vital and healthy for your age is the best thing to strive for. My mother taught me from a young age that less is more and that the goal is to age gracefully.

There is nothing appealing about a man or woman that is trying to look half their biological age. Of course, we still want to look our best, and to that end I love sharing tips, products and techniques with friends. It’s always great to get a recommendation from someone who has tried something that’s really worked for them.

I think we have to move with our age and embrace the little tips we can pick up along the way to help adjust to it. It’s important to look after yourself physically but it’s even more important to have the right attitude.”

Story by Zoe Briggs, photography by Camilla Quiddington, styling by Kristin Rawson. In hero image, Heidi wears The Aster Dress in Copper.

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