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Fashion and celebrity stylist Deni Todorovic has been working in Australia’s fashion industry for 11 years.
Collaborating with the who’s who of Australian talent, including The Bachelorette and Home and Away’s Sam Frost and influencer Elle Ferguson, Todorovic has made his mark as one to watch.
Previously, the 32-year-old worked at Cosmopolitan magazine, going from intern to video producer to style editor and then landing his dream role as the head of the fashion department — fashion editor, however, in October 2018, the magazine closed down.
“I got to spend the closing nine months of the magazine’s history as its fashion editor and I was the first male fashion editor in Cosmo Australia’s 45-year history,” Todorovic said during an interview with TheLatch—.
While it was a huge loss, before long, the stylist found his groove again and booked his first gig post-magazine life — styling Courtney Act for a 2019 Mardi Gras campaign.
In that year, Todorovic was then booked for every single major red carpet from the Logies to the Dally M Awards (where he made country-hopping headlines with WAG Monisha Lew-Fatt in a jaw-dropping dress by Croatian designer Matija Vuica — see photo below) plus styled celebrities for the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, before having two “pinch-me” moments when asked to work on a “really amazing” campaign for iconic Australian brand Bonds and The Body Shop.
“I’m very fortunate in that I get to see my fingers in so many pies,” Todorovic said.
This year was set to be even bigger, however, the global coronavirus pandemic had other plans and so the fashion commentator and stylist had to pivot his existing business.
With the aid of some fabulous flair and creativity, Todorovic managed to turn what could have been a business nightmare, into something much more than he could ever have anticipated.
Here, Todorovic tells TheLatch—. how he is using his creativity to ensure he has a bright and fashionable future ahead of him.
Anita Lyons: Hi Deni, thank you so much for taking the time to talk. While you’re still as fabulous as ever, I know this is a difficult time for you. I know you as a celebrity stylist, however, can you give a brief overview of what your overall business is?
Deni Todorovic: Sure! My business is incredibly multi-faceted. I’m very much three-dimensional and celebrity styling is one aspect of that. I’m a fashion editor of a local publication called The GT magazine. I have a column every weekend.
Separate to that, as technology has evolved, social media has become a huge part of what I do as well. The nuts and bolts of what my business is about being booked on jobs, whether it’s as a celebrity stylist or for a particular campaign.
I get plenty of work and have [such a good] reputation in the industry that I’ve been really lucky post-Cosmo. I’ve still been in front of mind by both celebrities and talent management and brands.
I would say that my job is generally three things. There’s the styling aspect, the creative direction aspect and also a fashion commentator.
AL: What were you looking forward to before the coronavirus hit?
DT: Everyone’s worries and concerns are relative to each other’s right now. So, in some regards, you kind of feel selfish to go “oh, way to ruin my 2020 plans”, but I feel like at the end of 2019, me, and so many creatives I know, were like: “2020 is going to be our bitch!”
“Before all of this happened, there was so much that I’d been working on.”
AL: So how have you been spending your time now?
DT: I was really fortunate in some way that my best friend moved to New York nine days before New York was put in total lockdown. It felt like a massive stroke of luck for my family and I because he was almost like this little man in the future telling us what we should be doing now in order to prevent this virus from spreading.
So, the first week for me was really all hands on deck with my mum and dad and helping their café [Three Little Figs in Geelong] get safe enough to be able to trade.
After I helped my parents set up, then I had to work out how the virus would affect me, as a business owner. All of my jobs came to a halt.
The reality was that first and foremost, I can’t style celebrities for the next six months — or anyone for that matter — because of social distancing and secondly, all of the events my clients would normally be going to have been cancelled. I felt like my world was kind of crumbling. I was even doing personal shopping for Westfield. That was all cancelled.
AL: I’m so sorry you’ve lost so much of your business. Is there a silver lining for you at all?
DT: Well, I thought to myself, what can I do during this time that can keep me creatively buzzing because I need to do something creative every day in order to just be sane. One of the things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had the time to do, is focus on my social media. From the second I left Cosmo, every single job I’ve booked as been through word of mouth and mostly, that comes from my Instagram account. Now, I have more time than ever to really build and engage my community.
I questioned what is it that they wanted to see. What do they gravitate towards? And I did a business plan for the first time in my life. I’ve never been a real strategic person. I’ve always been a thinker but I had never actually sat down and put pen to paper.
Then I thought about what I could do in the meantime. I started my whole internet journey as a video blogger and so I decided to create some video content and actually get people familiarised with me in that space of communicating through that medium.
I started my own Instagram network and I called it Deni TV. I love pop culture, I love fashion and I love drag race.
AL: This sounds fabulous! What is Deni TV all about?
DT: On a Tuesday night, I have this Q & A segment where people ask me fashion questions and I answer them. Then, on a Thursday night, I have a segment called “Thirsty Thursdays”, and each week I interview an inspiring Australian with a really inspiring story.
Then on Saturday’s, I have a fun little recap show that I do with my best friend about Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
It’s been so amazing to be able to connect with people multiple times a week and to turn towards some of the amazing relationships I’ve built. It’s just meant that my creative mind has been buzzing and I’ve been more creative during this time than I ever have been. I’ve never been more engaged with my audience.
It’s so nice to get messages from people and be like, “oh your chat with Sam Frost about mental health really moved me at a time I really needed it.”
I have been told that I can be polarising in a way because I am this camp gay boy who loves to dance in, not very much clothing and before coronavirus, I would have this mentality that maybe it didn’t look good to prospective clients but now it’s given me so much perspective. This is who I am. This is my authentic self. And luckily for me, people seem to really be resonating with it.
“It’s just meant that my creative mind has been buzzing and I’ve been more creative during corona than I ever have been and I’ve never been more engaged with my audience.”
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LUCKY B*TCH ⚡️NOTE: if boys bits and body hair is not your vibe keep scrolling ?? Ok, so I was so keen to finally be vertigo free and dance ready, that I taught myself multiple routines in tribute to the Pop ICON that is, the legendary, Miss Britney Spears! However I forgot how much of a vibe that vocal intro to ‘Work…’ is and #TikTok caps you at 60 seconds. So here’s a little something to raise the energy for today and I’ll have to rework the other numbers I shot into a separate medley, perhaps of some more old school Britney! Because one Britney medley isn’t really enough anyway right ?♂️ Wearing ➡️ Lucky/Intro : Tutu as jacket and headband by @colettebycolettehayman ✨ Work B*tch: Vintage Kimono, @iixiist onepiece and @missguided boots ? #DoTheDeni #BritneySpears #WorkBitch #Dance #Dancing #COVID #Iso
AL: In terms of income, how has the coronavirus affected you?
DT: As a freelancer, there are multiple jobs that I rely on for income and even jobs that I get booked on annually, but those are likely to be cancelled. So, from a financial perspective, it’s put a huge amount of strain. Thankfully, I still have my weekly GT article, but I can’t survive off just that.
I’m lucky that I live at home and I live rent-free with my mum and dad, so I don’t have that pressure on me.
For the first time in my life, I’ve had to apply for Centrelink, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’ve worked since I was 14 and nine months. I’ve never had to claim that and it was a really stressful process.
AL: What immediate steps are you taking to counter this shortfall in wage?
DT: the buzzword at the moment is “pivot” and everyone has to really think about how they are going to ‘pivot their businesses’.
For me, all of the content that I have been offering on social media is to brighten people’s day, I don’t ask anyone to pay to watch me dance in a video. But, now, I have to think, how am I going to potentially take this to the next level?
I am going to start offering a virtual wardrobe rehauls and culls, so if someone wants to come on Instagram and I go through their wardrobe in an hour, that’s one source of revenue I was thinking.
I was also thinking of setting up a Patreon group. I’m spending three hours-a-day editing these videos and I love doing them but it would be good to get a gold coin donation. I just think that this is a really interesting thing because it’s something that I’ve never had to ask for before and I feel a bit icky doing it. But at the same time, we all have to put food on our tables. I am thinking about a few different ways that I can leverage what I’m doing with some kind of financial reward.
As soon as this is all over, it will just be a case of getting in touch with brands and people I worked with and ask if they’ve got anything coming up in the next few months.
But I think it’s gonna be a slow burn back to that.
“I just think that this is a really interesting thing because it’s something that I’ve never had to ask for before and I feel a bit icky doing it. But at the same time, we all have to put food on our tables.”
AL: For the fashion industry as a whole, what impact will the coronavirus have?
DT: Let’s look at Fashion Week as an example. Designers spend months in advance working on Fashion Week, they put down payments on venues and makeup artists and fabrics and hire seamstresses and what are all of those people going to do now? While many have come up with solutions, it’s going to have such a terrible knock-on effect for the industry economically.
It makes me really scared because if I can’t be on set styling, that means that neither can the makeup artist, designer, hairstylist, and the model — so that’s five people that won’t be getting a wage that day. It really affects everyone.
“It makes me really scared because if I can’t be on set styling someone, that means that neither can the makeup artist, designer, a hairstylist, and the model — so that’s five people that won’t be getting a wage that day.”
AL: How has this time affected your mental health?
DT: Once I realised how serious this was, I started to go into panic mode, and got really anxious.
I’m starting to cope with it now, but in the first two weeks, I’ve always been an empath by nature and I would see that someone had lost a job and I would start sobbing and I couldn’t sleep and my sleeping patterns were all over the place because my mind just didn’t stop. I would wake up every morning, and for five minutes, I would be like, “breathe”. I started watching the news so diligently and realised that the more I did, the more depressed I became.
And then I had this moment of clarity and I was like, “Deni, why is it that people gravitate towards you? It’s because you’re a positive person by nature,” and so I made this rule that I was only going to use my social media channels for positive. I’m just going to be here to throw glitter in your face because if I don’t, I’m going to truly be a ball of anxiety.
So, my coping mechanism has absolutely been to just be creative and set a routine for myself. It’s taken a huge toll on my mental health but I’m lucky that I’ve always been really self-aware so I was able to put those boundaries in place.
Follow Fashion and Celebrity Stylist, Deni Todorovic on Instagram and be sure to check out Deni TV.
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