The move to New York with Paul Bui, stylist and writer

The move to New York with Paul Bui, stylist and writer

Paul Bui was my first boss in the media. At the time he was Deputy Editor, and later Editor of Oyster Magazine and from the first time we met, in our shared home town of Canberra, I thought he was the coolest person I'd ever seen.

He's proven that to be true time and time again, with his judicious creative decisions and impressive portfolio of styling work. For the last eight months, Paul has been living in New York City, working for Russh magazine, while simultaneously freelancing for international heavyweights like V and Interview.

What makes Paul's work so compelling is how effortlessly in touch he is with the pointy end of culture. He manages to know what is going on, just before it happens, but does so with a cheekiness and warmth that Serious Artistic Pursuits could use a great deal more of.

Paul will be writing for us from New York every couple of weeks, paying particular mind to the ever-swelling population of Australians living over there, but before he starts, I thought I'd pick his brain on a few things. Check out the gallery above for a guided tour of some of his favourite work so far. 

You’ve become something of a man about town.  What’s the trick to being professionally cute?

Haha, I’m not quite sure about being professionally cute! But I’ve fallen in love with New York City since moving here. There’s so much cool stuff going on, you’d be foolish to sleep through it. You could live in this city all your life and not do everything you want to do.

Who do you think are the most intriguing people in fashion at the moment?

Shayne Oliver from Hood By Air – You’ve probably seen his t-shirts championed by A$AP Rocky (who closed his show this season). Oliver brought that that whole 90s-oversized-streetwear-with-a-touch-of-the-darkside look to the forefront. Anyway, he’s definitely a fascinating guy.

Peter and Harry Brant – The 18 and 16 year old sons of publishing/art mogul Peter Brant Snr and supermodel Stephanie Seymour. Beautifully groomed yet still underage, the boys are already a mainstay on the international social circuit.

Giovanna Battaglia – She’s not my favourite stylist, but I think she’s got mad personal style and I like the way she sees the world. Check out her column in W.

Tank and Bambi – Chris Kutlesa and Nicola Formichetti’s adorable Pomeranians. If you like photos of cute dogs in cute outfits (how could you not?) follow them on instagram @tanknbambi

In fashion, people are often hired to do very commercial work on the basis of their very creative work. Why do you think that is? Does being creatively strong make you better equipped to work within tighter restrictions?

Definitely. Commercial clients will book you on the strength of your editorial work because they want to know that you can think conceptually, even if the concept and brief is very rigid. Having a strong creative background allows you to bring a unique point of view to every job you work on.

You’ve been following the shows in New York, can you tell me the five best things you’ve seen?

 In terms of shows, Marc Jacobs, Altuzzara, Proenza Schouler, Eckhaus Latta and Ohne Titel all delivered fantastic collections. However meeting the amazing Amanda Lepore at a party was a highlight for me. Oh and also the guy from ‘Shit Fashion Girls Say’, he’s hilarious and I love him.

There’s so much going on in New York, particularly around fashion week time, how do you decide what will be worth looking at?

Press usually have to follow a meticulous schedule to check everything out for work. I don’t really have to do this, so I kind of just go with flow.

Aside from a country of origin, do you think there’s anything Australian ex-pats all have in common?

There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie amongst Australian expats living here in New York.  The thing we have most in common is that we’re not scared of hard work, we’re not so easily affected by phoney bullshit and we can drink any American under the table!

 What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen in the last three weeks?

It was probably that guy I met with you, wearing half a leotard in sub zero temperatures at the front of that gay club. Oh and also the freak blizzard that swept through during fashion week, forcing some designers to change venues … people were apparently skiing down the streets of Brooklyn! Crazy fun.

Fashion is at its best when it is telling a story, even when it’s not a particularly literal one. What are some of the themes and genres that work particularly well for you when you’re directing or styling?

I love imagery that tells a story, especially if it’s not a literal narrative. I don’t tend to follow trends religiously. Of course, they’re often integral to my work but I draw a lot of inspiration from movies, music, books and random stuff I see. It could be a comic I read or a corny old movie I watched or an old album cover I stumble across. The more you draw on your own personal taste and experiences, the stronger a signature you’ll develop as a stylist. At the moment I’m kind of obsessed with 1920s Shanghai and that whole indochine aesthetic in general.

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