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How this former engineer went from Far North Queensland to star Brisbane stylist

by Josh Gabelich on

Kerrie Carucci grew up in a tiny farming town in Far North Queensland. There wasn’t a department store within a thousand kilometres, let alone a designer boutique. But, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  

While a large part of her childhood was spent in the great outdoors, another chunk was spent learning how to sew and construct clothing with her mum, who is a seamstress with her own label, Milva Carucci Designs.

Carucci is now one of Brisbane’s most sought-after personal, editorial and campaign stylists, working with some of the biggest movers and shakers in Australian fashion. 

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But it was only a handful of years ago that she was still working for the man, logging long hours behind the desk each week as an engineer. It wasn’t until a life-changing weekend altered the course of her career, and her life, for that matter.

“I grew up in a really small town in Far North Queensland. Up there they’ve got agriculture and farming and it is that sort of community. But from an early age, my mum is a really beautiful seamstress, so I learnt to sew and understood patternmaking and fabrics and those sorts of things from a really young age,” Carucci told Behind The Lens.

“I also had an appreciation of styling and putting things together because we didn’t have much that we could get out hands on up there because retail wasn’t exactly big. I got good at putting things together so I wouldn’t look like ten other girls when we would go to an event growing up. 

“I always say I fell into my engineering career, which seems a bit tongue in cheek, but around about five years ago I lost the love for everything that I was doing in my career. I was working ridiculous hours at the time and I suppose it was sort of like a mid-life crisis and I looked at what I enjoyed. And that was going to the races and doing lots fashions on the field and that sort of thing. 

“The catalyst to get into styling was a two-day workshop they held in Brisbane with the Australian Styling Institute. I went and that weekend changed my life. I got a better understanding of styling and fashion from the basis of human psychology and human behaviour, rather than just pretty things. 

 

“What I learned from in those two days was what I had subconsciously been doing my entire career by the way you dress to make yourself feel more confident, especially working in a male-dominated industry for so long – putting on that armour every day.”

Carucci is far from the first person to be raised in the country to carve out a successful career in fashion. Tom Ford has become one of the most influential designers on the planet, after growing up in rural Texas, where he relied on magazines to get his fashion fix. 

“I think there is a different level of appreciation,” Carucci said. “My childhood was very humble in terms of we didn’t have a lot, but we made do with what we did have. Then there’s also that element of appreciation of designer fashion because it’s not saturated in your sphere; you see it in Vogue and it’s something you always aspire to.”

Ever wondered what a career as a stylist actually entails? No two days are the same. One day Carucci is styling a client’s wardrobe or in a store, most likely even a shopping centre. The next day she could be on set shooting a commercial campaign. Then she could be in a corporate setting running a styling masterclass on personal branding. 

 

Carucci never thought her side hustle would actually transform into a full-time career – most great passion projects start out as a dream - but it has. 

“I started by building this on the side as a side hustle while juggling large projects at work. to be honest, I really didn’t think it would take off,” she said.

“I probably left it six months too late of jumping in full-time because I’m quite a cautious person. I was at the point where I had backed off my career to four days a week, then three days a week. But in saying that, in engineering you basically just cram five days into three. 

“Word of mouth referral was the big one for building my client base. I’m the sort of person who is quite hungry when it comes to career so I will always chase opportunities. Building a client base is just relationships. You never know where things lead.

“I have a real interest in people and that’s a real passion. I could go a full day without speaking to a soul in my old job, and I think that’s where the fulfilment factor was really lacking for me.”

13 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT KERRIE CARUCCI:

What’s the first place you will go to when the world returns to normal?

Italy. It was on the cards this year before everything happened. Being Italian I always find it inspirational and it reinforces the culture a little bit. There are parts of Italy I haven’t explored, so Positano is definitely a place I want to go. There are so many different things that I appreciate on a different level now that I work in styling and fashion. Travel provides inspiration that keeps feeding you for years to come.

What is your favourite TV show?

Gossip Girl

What is your favourite movie?

Devil Wears Prada

What is your favourite magazine?

Vogue 

You can invite three people to dinner dead or alive, who are you inviting?

Audrey Hepburn because ultimately she is just timeless. I think she would be an incredible person to meet. Michelle Obama I’d have and Oprah Winfrey because they are two powerhouse women. 

Where are you eating your last meal on earth?

My Nona’s lasagne. 

How do you drink your coffee?

Depends on the day. Double espresso or Almond magic.

What is your signature drink?

If it’s a hot day an Aperol Spritz or on a night out a Rose.

Beach or pool?

Beach

Cabarita Beach

What was your dream job growing up? 

I thought I was going to be a vet. I don’t know if it was a dream job, but I grew up with animals and always thought that’s what I would do.

What is your favourite form of exercise? 

Walking for me. It’s like meditation.

Tell us what your favourite fashion labels are?

Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Scanlan & Theodore, Jacquemus, Dior and my mum’s label…

What is on your bucket list?

This is a tough one. I would definitely love to extend my business internationally, having a remote capacity to carve out chunks in different places, curating opportunities. That is the dream; that is the bucket list. Whether that’s a runway show or shoots. I would love to create my own label in the long term. Something that is designed by me for a set demographic. That might be sooner rather or later, which is exciting.

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