Elle-May is a photographer many others aspire to. The ethereal, vintage-like quality of her work draws you in and tells a story, transporting you to the Australian bush, the streets of Paris or empty beaches in the Pacific North West. She describes her work as “a celebration of life” which seems apt for the sense of nostalgia and the narratives that her images capture. Elle-May has an instantly recognisable style, sharing self-portraits wearing dreamy, floaty dresses – including those that she designed herself and our vintage-style pinafore dresses. We caught up with her to talk about how she wears her Kid Philosophy dresses, and who she is beneath her clothes.
Hi Elle-May - can you tell us a little bit about you?
My name is Elle-May Watson, I live on the Sunshine Coast of Australia and I run a design studio with my husband Christian. Together we also find and use antiques to inspire us and sell on. I am personally a photographer and creator of imagery, design, and anything I want to share under our brand banner which is 1924US. I find inspiration in partnering with other artists to create practical things with beautiful designs that we can also have in our shop. I started my creative journey from photographing my own personal style in 2008 and it has led into this over the years.
What is your favourite piece from the Kid Philosophy collection?
The vintage style pinafore dress in black.
Could you share a memory of wearing this garment?
I first wore it in a seaside town called Akaroa in New Zealand. It was a warm summer day and was perfect.
When do you wear your Kid Philosophy dresses?
I normally pack them when I travel and wear them when I am dressing up a little to go out. They are really easy to have as transitional pieces as they are unique but also serve as comfortable basics.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style as I’ve moved through my twenties is actually quite simple. I used to wear so many impractical things when I was younger but now I love finding statement dresses. I like wearing dresses which are comfortable and practical, that I don't really have to add anything onto to style. I almost always wear dresses on their own with flat boots (maybe socks if it is cold) and possibly a comfortable cardigan over.
How do you get dressed in the morning? What decisions affect your choice of what you wear?
It usually depends on how fast I have to roll out of bed. If I have a lot of work to do just in our studio and I need to get there quickly, I will wear an oversized garment and slick my hair back. If I have places to go and people to see, I like to feel better and put more effort in so I take a little longer to choose an outfit, do my hair and feel inspired in my choice of clothing.
Who are you beneath your garments? Do the clothes that you wear reflect your personality?
To be honest, I think my clothes reflect my various inspirations - from history and subcultures to a general outlook. I have never been someone dependent on my physical appearance to showcase who I am. I actually wish sometimes I cared a little more and I do go through phases but at my core, I love the creativity of getting dressed. What really inspires me is character, spirituality, and a person’s outlook – the life behind their eyes.
Where do you look for inspiration - for work and for the way that you live your life?
I guess Christian and I have it together and from within each other which is a really incredible thing to have in a partnership. Outside of that, I find inspiration through prayer, time in solitude & nature, in history (or learning about the lives of others) and sacrifices made for us to have this great opportunity in life.
Interview by Emma Lavelle