Laura Gardner August 22 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life.

In our August 'Insight' we speak to Laura Gardner, Phd student, freelancer and Online Editor for the journal Vestoj, as we visit her at home in Brunswick, Melbourne. 

Would you describe your line of work as conventional?
Maybe not! I always find it difficult to convey my work to others in conversations – not because it is particularly unorthodox, but because I feel like I am always doing a few things at once. I have the luxurious day-to-day flexibility of being a PhD student and a freelancer, which means I can usually work anywhere. Research is a very particular way of working, and practice-based research (which is what I do) can mean that I could be deep in post-structural theory one day, or working on projects another – most of this occurs via a laptop.
I also work freelance on editing projects in art and fashion publishing, and on an ongoing basis in my role as Online Editor for the journal Vestoj. Adding to this, I work for the RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles. So it’s a mix of different work and research but all of which seems to compliment each other entirely and which I really enjoy, but makes for an unconventional weekly schedule.

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What do you write on your business card?
It really depends on who I am giving my imaginary business card to. I don’t actually have a business card but on my website I describe myself as an ‘editor’. When I finally reach business card-status maybe I could have a few different types? I think the role of ‘editor’ feels most comfortable, but I will also offer ‘PhD researcher’, sometimes I will tell people I’m a ‘writer’ – or the more ambiguous, ‘freelancer’. I often find I stumble when asked about my PhD, it is not always easy to describe one’s topic to new audiences – I’m still working on the perfect line to deliver in small talk about all of this.

When are you most productive? 
I’m trying to be less of a night owl and keep to corporate hours, but I can’t really pinpoint a particular hour of day as opening a magic door to productivity: perhaps it’s more a question of where am I most productive. I think the work environment is important if I’m doing something where I have to concentrate – like writing – for an extended period of time.

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What is important to for a work-conducive space?
I’m easily distracted, so I find it needs to be a serious environment in order for me to be productive, I usually work from my office in the RMIT Design Hub, occasionally from home, and time to time in libraries or cafes. Most of my work is through my laptop, but I like to feel grounded in the workplace, with all my books and references around me, and access to endless cups of tea.

How does the way you dress factor into your daily work routine?
I’d say it is very important. Not only because I studied, work and write about fashion, but I think it’s a vastly important and personal part of my day. I guess there are a few things that an outfit needs to do: at the moment it has to be warm! And I usually ride to work so it has to have ease of movement and comfort, and then, of course, it needs to look nice, take you from day to night, street to office, etc.

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How have you collected the garments in your wardrobe?
In many different ways, some I have bought new in stores or online from labels I like, some are hand-me-downs. I am often gathering clothes from eBay or op shops – I like it when clothes are ambiguous or unbranded, like you can’t tell where or from what label they’re from but might have an interesting shape or detail.

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What is a luxury garment to you?
It’s something in the make and the quality of the material – luxury high fashion is grounded on detail, texture and finishing that gives an aura of luxury, this I love. Branding embeds another layer of luxury, or desirability, on a garment; but I believe in a luxurious button closure, or a seaming finish, or fabric. Very particular and considered sartorial details, but it is also the act of noticing it, as a wearer that makes it luxurious. For example, these Chorus pants, which are made in a viscose knit that gives them a really beautiful, but somewhat unexpected weight that I notice when I wear. For me that is luxury, a kind of unexpected but considered experience of a garment.

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Do you have any sartorial memories that have stayed with you?
I seem to have really strong memories of my clothing at primary school – I really experimented with my clothes at this age, much more than I do as an adult! I remember a lot of my looks from back then really strongly. There was a particular outfit I wore on the first day back to school after summer holidays: I think it was year two or three. I returned in head to toe denim, with overalls and a matching denim jacket, and accessorised with John Lennon sunglasses, it was so great!

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What insights would you share with other women?
I’m not sure I am ready to answer this! Maybe ask me in a few years? I remember hearing some advice lately from a lecture and I have thought about it more since, that is: in work and in life the most effective and best approach is to be nice: people always like nice people.

Laura wears the Unpinned Dress and Unpinned Pants from our August Monthly Edition