Ally Macrae on How Ballet Informs Her Work as a Stylist

Behind the Image is an ongoing series taking a more personal look at both established and emerging creative talent.

Ally Macrae | Image courtesy of Streeters

Ally Macrae, Fashion Stylist

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Based: Paris, France
Representation: Streeters

How would you describe your work? What’s your trademark?
Modern elegance, complex characters, trash & treasure.

How did you first discover your passion for styling, and what led you specifically into the world of styling?
I had quite a long winding path into styling. Growing up, I always loved fashion and magazines but didn’t know anything about the industry. At the same time, I was very into dance, art, and cinema. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career, but I knew it had to be something where I could combine these passions. Initially, I studied Fine Art and, alongside this, did a variety of internships in fashion and costume design to figure out where I might fit in. Eventually, after much trial and error, I understood styling offered the space to explore everything I’ve always loved.

What other jobs have you had?
I’ve had many odd jobs over the years. During my studies, I worked in a cinema, at a candy bar serving popcorn, sold vintage clothes at a market, dabbled in teaching dance and yoga, worked in retail, and as a fashion buyer. When I started in Paris, I worked as a styling assistant and worked in art direction for a while.

What inspires your creative process and influences your artistic vision?
Bold, independent, complicated, elaborate, fearless women who carve their own paths are an endless source of inspiration for me, professionally and personally. In my process, I like to start with a narrative or concept in mind and build the fashion story from this in collaboration with the photographer / designer / team. The research and conversations during the development phase of a project are so important to me.

What have you watched/heard/read lately that has inspired you?
Age of Content by (La)Horde
Louise Bourgeois “Had the Day Invaded the Night or Had the Night Invaded the Day?” at The Art Gallery of NSW.
Rewatching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season 1 episode 9, “The Dinner Party From Hell”

Dilara Findikoglu made a comeback for F/W 24. Can you share your experience collaborating with Findikoglu on this collection, given that you are frequent collaborators?
Dilara is a true visionary and has such a rich universe. The collection always starts with a strong concept often framed around identity, politics, and femininity. Once the story for the season is established, it is an ongoing conversation. As I’m in Paris, we will regularly share ideas and references via WhatsApp, and then I will go to London to do fittings and develop styling ideas with Dilara. The casting in the lead-up to the show is also a crucial part of the process, as we really have to find the right model to fulfill each look’s unique character. We both like to push ideas as far as possible, so until the last model has walked the runway, anything can change in between. It is really exciting to have been part of the brand’s evolution over several seasons. A big part of our conversation is always about the balance of pushing the collection artistically and commercially, and to witness the results of that with so much great press and red-carpet coverage recently has been very exciting.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced professionally?
As someone who is very curious, enthusiastic, and loves collaborating with other artists, one of the biggest challenges for me has been learning to say no and be considerate in the projects I take on. In the initial stages, learning how to survive in a very expensive city while freelancing, where I didn’t know anyone at first, was a huge challenge, but it was also very motivating.

What’s one thing outside of your work that you would like people to know about you?
I am very inspired by dance and still take classical ballet classes regularly. On the one hand, it is linked to my work and how I think about the body and garments, yet it is also my escape and a safe space where I can be very present. This is really important for everyone, especially in this era of distraction, to find moments or activities where you can be truly present.

Who do you think is one to watch?
Kayla Conners
Angela Suarez
Lara McGrath

Selected Work

By Kito Munoz | Image courtesy of Streeters

Room Thirteen for Dust magazine, 2023
For this story, Kito wanted to depict a troupe seen in an ambiguous space somewhere between a theatre and a type of school. For the styling, this editorial was a feature of the brand Songzio. I then mixed in a range of anonymous and rather generic vintage pieces so that we could play with uniformity, layering, and undressing the looks. Hair was also a big part of the concept, and Olivier Schawalder did an amazing job creating a singular look that was replicated across all models.

By Anthony Seklaoui | Image courtesy of Streeters

High Street for Magazine Magazine shot by Anthony Seklaoui, 2023
I worked on the FW23 issue as the guest fashion director, so I got to put together and curate all of the fashion stories along with the magazine’s editor-in-chief and creative director, Angelo Cirimele. This story was inspired by street portrait photography and that feeling when you walk down the street and have those fleeting moments locking eyes with a stranger. The casting was very important and was led by Mollie Dendle, who put together our amazing crew of characters.

Tina Kunakey by Casper Sejersen | Image courtesy of Streeters

Tina Kunakey for Dust Magazine by Casper Sejersen, 2023
For this project, we wanted to show Tina in a new context and create a room where she could perform. The idea was to do something a bit disheveled, eery, but still chic. Tina was so open to the direction and gave so much energy. The set was really important and designed by Manon Everhard, who created the sense of a raw, neglected apartment.

By Louie Banks | Image courtesy of Streeters

(La)Horde feature for Luncheon magazine shot by Louie Banks, 2022
This was my second time collaborating with the dancers from (La)Horde. Louie and I shot the dancers backstage at the Chaillot Theatre in Paris before one of their performances, which was a really special opportunity. We had limited time and had to be quite reactive and spontaneous. However, this pressure was also very freeing. The dancers always give so much to each project and really know how to embody and play with fashion.

Mariacarla Boscono by Tanya + Zhenya Posternak | Image courtesy of Streeters

Vogue Italia October 2022 Cover
This shoot was a special story as I’ve always been such a big fan of Mariacarla. Sports inspired the shoot, and we wanted to keep it elegant and elevated but still connected to Mariacarla’s spirit.