Mara photographed above by Stephanie Cammarano.
Recently I discovered Mara Schiavetti while looking on People Agency’s website. I instantly began planning another photoshoot for my latest release, as I was really excited at the thought of casting Mara. I knew she would look incredible in my clothes.
We had such a fun day on the shoot and as soon as we started uncovering more about Mara, we thought it would be interesting to ask her a few questions about what she’s been up to, because she’s got a lot going on!
Mara recently returned to Australia after travelling and living abroad since the early 90’s. She began modelling and acting a year ago, she has worked all over the world as a fashion and celebrity hair and make-up artist, and founded her own fashion editorial magazine and natural organic lifestyle guide.
We had a chat to Mara about everything she’s been up to, and we also got a little bit of inside info about her skincare regime...
We know you've recently returned to Australia. Can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to while living abroad?
I had been living in NYC for most of my time away, with short stints in LA and Upstate NY. I left Australia at the start of the ’90s, firstly to Europe, living and working in Munich, Milan, Paris and London over several years as a fashion hair and makeup artist. Then while on a holiday in Jamaica one year my travel buddy convinced me to go hop over to visit NYC, which became the longest visit of my life, it lasted twenty-eight years.
Within that time, I focused on my career as a hair and makeup artist for fashion clients and eventually working in the film industry. I worked with many notable talents, celebrities, actors, directors, and media publications that nourished my creativity and my life. I also studied Aromatherapy, became certified as a holistic health coach and was editor and publisher of a sustainable fashion magazine.
Initially, NYC resonated with me because it was the most diverse place in the world, and it never slept. I found myself at the heart of everything that I found exciting and inspiring, in contemporary art, photography, music, and fashion. It’s a fast-paced city so time flew by and after almost thirty years I was asking myself if this is where I wanted to stay? I was missing my family in Australia, and after several recent trips back to Melbourne, seeing how it had evolved, and always feeling a familial sense of belonging I decided to move back home in October 2019.
What do you like most about living in Melbourne?
Melbourne is a much smaller city to what I’ve been used to, and which I prefer. Where I live in Fitzroy there’s an emphasis on individuality and creativity, which has spawned some great boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants. It feels like a close community, and I love getting to know the shop keepers, and walking through the many alleyways with amazing graffiti artwork that keeps changing and morphing, and wandering the streets taking in the various landscaping and architectural designs that are uniquely Australian.
I drive out into the more sprawling areas for day trips with family and friends, it’s been fun getting reacquainted with my home town after a long absence. A few of my favourite haunts are Faraday’s Cage for breakfast in Fitzroy, and over in Carlton there’s Ima for an amazing Japanese brunch, and of course Readings book store is incredible, I want to have my own private armchair there so I can browse for ages.
How long have you been modelling for? And what do you most enjoy about it?
It’s very new to me. I've been modelling and acting since a year ago. It began as I was making my way to Melbourne via Los Angeles. I was staying in Santa Monica organizing my dog’s travel paperwork, and vet shots and randomly decided to do an acting class. I found the Baron Brown Studio nearby which teaches the Meisner technique and the experience was so interesting and gratifying I immediately became hooked. As soon as I arrived in Melbourne I dove into more classes, starting at the Howard Fine Studio, and now at NIDA. Meanwhile a photographer I commissioned to do my headshots Lliam Murphy suggested I sign up with a modelling agency, that’s how I found People Agency, and that’s how I got to work for Dominique Healy.
I love modelling, much like acting you have to inhabit the essence of the subject, and with clothes modelling the subject are the clothes. I have to find a way to make them fall and drape the best way possible, or how to animate them, making them come alive for the camera. I also just love collaborating with creative teams, putting our best selves forward to produce images that we can fall in love with. The day we worked together the team were shouting with excitement over what we were all collectively creating - it can be exhilarating.
I imagine you're likely asked this question all the time (because you have the most incredible skin!) but do you have any skincare tips you'd be happy to share with us?
I have to give thanks to my Mediterranean roots. I remember growing up surrounded by the beautiful Italian women in my family, and envying their flawless olive complexion, while I was dealing with teenage breakouts. But maintaining elasticity through the years requires effort, good skincare products, a healthy diet, and exercise. I’m gluten and dairy-free, I eat fish and very little other meats. I hardly drink, maybe a glass of wine now and then, and I go to the gym and have a regular yoga practice. It’s as much for my mind and spirit as it is for my skin and body. As for a skincare regime, it changes every few years, more recently I started using O Cosmedics from Natashia’s Skin Spa. I went for a facial late last year and also had my first skin peel, which helped reduce some fine lines. As a day to day routine, I use Weleda products, and I believe in masks one or two each month, clay and algae-based masks do a great job of cleansing, toning and softening.
We've done a bit of research, and we were very excited to discover that you have your own editorial fashion magazine and natural organic lifestyle guide that promotes sustainable living, holistic health and beauty. What are the important factors you consider when purchasing clothing?
I started AGB/A Green Beauty magazine way back in 2009, as a passion project and it just kept growing. It started as a blog and by 2014 it became a printed magazine, that was an exciting period. It was distributed throughout the US for a few years, but alas funding ran out and it went back to digital. Since moving to Melbourne, and due to the uncertainty of the economy I decided to put it on pause, only the social media part of it is still ongoing @agreenbeautymagazine. You can find most of the original fashion content on my portfolio website https://www.unkommonlab.com with the print magazine archival editions in digital format, freely available to download.
When I go store shopping, I usually start by looking at the style and design details, like anyone. Then I need to touch the fabric for how it’s going to feel on my skin because it ultimately become your second skin. Next would be price, even though I emphatically believe you get what you pay for I still have a budget to keep in mind. Then I check the material info tag to see what it’s made of, and dig deeper by asking the salesperson if the brand has a sustainability philosophy at its core: whether the fabric is sustainably sourced, and if it’s made locally. There are so many ways companies can approach various levels of their sustainability ethos, and the only way to get to know these things is to ask. If all these important details align then I’m in heaven. If I shop online, I will google sustainable brands first and foremost, and go straight to their about page to find out about their process.
Did you have a favourite outfit or piece from my range?
I have a lot of faves in your range! I love the confetti set, the name says it all, it’s magically cozy AND chic. I loved the striped pants and the glamorous pink top with the open back. Then there was the deep green blouse and dress set, absolutely luxurious. And I love that your designs compliment any age.
Also, if there's anything else you'd like to share/talk about/ that you're currently working on, please do so! We'd love to hear about it...
At the moment I’m attempting to write as much as possible, it’s a good time for that while riding out a pandemic. I haven’t gotten far, but at least I’ve launched a creative discipline. I’m trying to come up with stories for characters I can play for film and TV, and for women of my generation, that are not clichés or stereotypes. I want to portray over 50 and 60 women as bad-asses and hero types. We are living longer and healthier lives so older female roles can be dynamic, sexy and foreboding. Otherwise, I’m fascinated with sculpture and art made with organic matter, it's a project that's ruminating in my brain for now.