To mark the eleventh annual InStyle and Audi’s Women of Style, we're celebrating ten inspiring women that bring the message of the awards to life.
The inspiring group of honourees includes leaders in science, business, fashion, social justice, beauty and entertainment, boasting a list of combined achievements that proves style is more than just the clothes you wear.
THE SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION
As a child, Palisa Anderson thought it strange how “lackadaisical” many Australians were about food, when her own “literally would talk, read and debate about it” all day. Her single mum, Amy Chanta, a Thai immigrant, is the pioneer behind Chat Thai restaurants, Sydney’s Boon Café, the Jarern Chai grocer and more.
RULES TO LIVE BY
The first step to sustainability is “being kind” – to others, the planet, ourselves. “Every choice we make affects everything around us,” she says. “We can affect outcomes and not be overwhelmed thinking these are problems for other people to deal with.”
THE MODERN REBEL
It all started because the actress thought it would be funny to see “a normal person do fancy-people things”. And from then, Celeste Barber’s real-life reimaginings of fashion shoots, celebrity social media posts and influencer posturing struck a chord across the globe (5.6 million followers on Instagram at last count) and within the fashion world in particular. Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Rosie Huntington- Whiteley and a host of Victoria’s Secret models are now either fans, friends or both of the former All Saints star.
WOULDN’T IT BE FUNNY?
Barber’s ambition is to build off her success online, starting with her ABC Challenge Accepted! series and her sell-out 46-date live tour in the US. “I do sometimes think how far I’ve come, but mainly I think about how far I have to go.”
THE NEW-GEN INNOVATOR
The object is beautiful in itself: an undulating copper-mail device that Macinley Butson hand-wove from rings and “scales”. But the beauty of Butson’s SMART Armour deepens when considering its application: working as a shield to protect women from radiation during breast cancer treatment.
A FRESH TAKE
Butson describes herself as having been “a curious child who would persistently annoy my parents with the most powerful question a child can ask: Why?” Now she questions those traditional barriers to being taken seriously. “Success is no longer a 50-year-old white male CEO. Success is young, it is diverse and it is not gender dependent.”
THE STYLE VANGUARD
Pip Edwards & Claire Tregoning
“My dad always told me, ‘Be interested, not interesting,’” says Pip Edwards, but it’s fair to say the designer and style influencer is both. Edwards channelled her curiosity and outlook to create a sport-meets-streetwear brand with co-founder Claire Tregoning that has raised the benchmark for athleisure wear internationally.
NOT JUST GOOD-LOOKING
Edwards, a single mother, says her passion for work lies in that it’s an extension of how she lives and what she stands for. “The launch of P.E Nation is by far my greatest achievement – coming into my own, being myself and co-creating a brand that reflects every part of who I am, unashamedly.”
THE FORCE FOR GOOD
Figueiredo learnt young to ignore fairytales: not only because her parents encouraged her to think of herself as a global citizen–raising her on their stories of Goa and Mombasa, and hosting exchange students in their Canberra home– but because all the while she was brutalised by a male relative. Unaware, her parents enrolled her in karate classes, and when the attacker tried to take her life when she was aged 12, Figueiredo fought back and the violence stopped. “From this moment, I found a new sense of confidence and purpose,” she says. “I was now determined to ensure no child or woman ever had to live through violence again.”
Figueiredo is frank about wanting influence. “The notion of ‘waiting until you’re ready’ is obscene. Anyone can change the world. They do not have to wait until a certain age, wealth or status to be deemed a leader.”
THE FARMER OF CHANGE
When her family bought a sheep station in far-west NSW in 2000, the “starkly beautiful piece of Australia” became both a physical and spiritual home to 12-year-old Anika Molesworth. Then the rain stopped and barely fell again for a decade. Drought “opened my eyes to the fragility of our natural world, and how connected everything and everyone is to it,” she says.
She’ll work with a global team of 100 women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) on matters of sustainability, and continue advocating for ambitious climate and energy policies.
THE ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
Kate Morris wasn’t raised to be entrepreneurial: her parents are social workers and she entered the beauty industry without ambition, and “wound up” on a beauty counter to support her university studies. But she found the customer experience to be joyless. E-commerce was barely nascent but in 1999 Morris borrowed $12,000 and founded Adore Beauty in her garage with just two brands.
DOLLARS DON’T DRIVE HER
Morris says money is not her motivation, but challenge. “Business has to be hard. If it weren’t, everyone would be doing it and you’d have no competitive advantage.”
THE VOICE OF NOW
Before she became a platinum-selling star, Amy Shark was advised to give up music. “‘Please stop sending unsolicited material,’” she recounts an industry executive saying. “‘Your music is no good.’”
Admirers applaud Shark’s work ethic as much as her music. “You can’t be lazy,” she says. There’s no such thing as a work week when you want to be the best at what you do.”
THE ADVOCATE FOR ACCEPTANCE
Gbla wasn’t meant to have a baby. A survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM), she was told she was infertile. The birth of her son in 2015 is only one of Gbla’s remarkable achievements.
Gbla acknowledges her daily experiences of racism are “compounded by my experiences with sexism … I am the change I wish to see in my family, at work and my community at large.”
THE SPIRITED STORYTELLER
Darwin-born actor Miranda Tapsell broke through in the much-loved Australian film The Sapphires, which premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and she won Logie awards for her TV turn as Martha in Love Child. Now, she tells her own stories. This May, she stars in Top End Wedding, a romantic comedy set in the NT that she co-wrote and which premiered at Sundance–one of only six Australian feature films to be included in the line-up
Tapsell’s ambition is to produce. “The trauma and degradation that racism brings doesn’t need to be central to every story,” she says. “But there should still be space for that.”