NICO At Home with Kirsty

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Lis: So, firstly, thank you for participating.

Kirsty: You're welcome. Thank you for inviting me.

Lis: For me, this shoot was such a pleasure. A, because we're friends and I know you and it was just nice to hang out, but B, I think because you have such a beautiful realness to who you are as a person, and I think that came across really nicely in the photos. So I guess I wanted to acknowledge, first of all, your work that you do with Tempest Hurricane. I don't know if we even call it work?

Kirsty: I don't know how to describe it sometimes. Like, it changes it weekly. So sometimes it's just a hobby and something I create in my spare time, but it has evolved, definitely. So it's come from this exploration of just I'm going to take a photo in my underwear to being more around, I want to create a beautiful feeling or ... it's become much more of a full  experience, I guess. I don't know how to describe it, but I don't want to say it's my side hustle, because it's not, but it is something that consumes a lot of my spare time. And whether it's using social media for that kind of purpose and connecting with people, or actually taking the time out to shoot a few different pieces and put those images together in a way that's sort of trying something new for me.

Lis: Do you feel like it's the project as a whole has become much bigger than you ever imaged, or gone in a direction that you hadn't imagined?  When you started it, what were you picturing?

Kirsty: When I started it, I was picturing no one is ever going to see these. It was like, no one's ever going to find this.

Lis: So it was more from a personal space of you personally wanted to go through the process. It wasn't about finding an audience?

Kirsty: No, it never was. I've always been an avid Instagram user and participant,  I've always been engaged on that platform, just through my own personal account. But there weren't a lot of people doing it. There were a few big names in the lingerie community who I had been following for a few years, people who were doing it. And it just kind of ... it happened, actually, with a really unfortunate incident, with an old friend who is no longer ... unfortunately not a friend anymore.  They were like, "Well, you shouldn't post photos like that where other people like your friends or your family can see them." It was a bit shaming. And that kind of was so upsetting for me on a personal level, but then it almost pushed me to just be a bit rebellious, and be like, "Well, fine. I'm going to do it. And I'm going to do this other account, and you can't stop me, and you can't tell who can follow me or not."

Then it sort of evolved, and then it became more about the community of different people who started following me. Also my photos were more detail-oriented in the beginning - a bit more up close and a bit more abstract, whereas now, they're sort of a bit more literal and obviously I'm now showing my face in a lot of them, which I made a conscious decision to move towards about 18 months ago, purely because I felt I was getting a bit objectified in some of the images by unwanted attention. So, for me, I was like, well, if I show my face, that's again, another empowering kind of step of like this is who I am. And also, no one can use that account against me now, because it's sort of like, well, it is who I am.

Lis: You're not trying to hide anything about it.

Kirsty: Yeah. But at the same time, it was never about that in the beginning. And it was more just because I loved the pieces that I have collected over the years, and I enjoy taking fun selfies. That's really what it was. And then it  just  totally evolved into I want to pursue photography and I want to buy a camera, and I'm going to teach myself how to do it. And I read a few books, and ... I mean, I'm still learning and I think each time I dedicate a couple of hours to shooting, I feel really renewed and recharged and almost like this weird adrenaline, kind of, that I feel like I'm doing what I love doing. I think it's evolved to becoming more of an artistic, creative expression and it just so happens that I'm the sort of the protagonist in that ... I guess, the person who's driving that in the photos and also behind the camera.

Lis: Yeah, absolutely. We talked about it a little bit during the shoot about the difference and the feeling of the photos that we took together versus what you take for Tempest, and obviously, it's like a strange kind of experience, perhaps, to suddenly have somebody else behind the camera and to not have that full control over it. How did that feel for you?

Kirsty: It felt lovely in that it was nice to just almost not overthink the shot or what we were doing and just be in my element without worrying too much, or feeling uneasy.  It was just really nice to sort of give up some of that control, and kind of just go with it and soften into it and trust that process, but also with someone who I trust, so it's a much easier kind of transition or decision to make! When I first saw the images, I was blown away, but I was also quite almost like, "Oh, that's what I look like."  Because it's different to my photos - my photos are so kind of ... I wouldn't say they're staged, because they're not, but they're definitely put together in a way that is a bit choreographed.

Lis: Knowing you as a person outside of Tempest - this account, I feel like ... and correct me if you think this is wrong, but I feel like Tempest has an element of character to it, you know. It's not who you are day to day.

Kirsty: Yeah. It's a bit of an alter-ego for sure, and that is a good thing. I don't take myself too seriously, so in a way, that barrier isn't there. So then I'm way more natural. Like, I'm naturally dramatic or I'm naturally making funny faces or whatever. It's kind of become a good expression and sense of freedom even for me, and feeling empowered.

I find it quite bizarre even now. I mean, I don't get recognised or anything like that, but some people who've seen like the calendar for example, or like seen my page and they're either like, "Oh, is that you?" Or they're a bit, well, not star-struck, but they're just a bit blown away. And it's sort of like well, yeah, it is. I mean, it's me. But it's also not me. It's only one part of who I am.

Lis: But I love it because I feel like everybody has that in them. Everybody has that character in them or they have that kind of maybe a little bit of an alter-ego. I think it's a real show of strength to bring that out into the open and be just bold with it and to be really strong with it.

Kirsty: Thank you. That is really nice of you to say.

Lis: I think it's amazing.

Kirsty: I've struggled with it from a personal level of just like where do I sit with this and what I'm doing and when is it too much.

Lis: That just makes it stronger, actually, because you've overcome that kind of doubt, you know.

Kirsty: Yeah, I think it's sort of like, "This is it. This is who I am." It's sort of like creative play, for me. I can say that as an adult. It's being creative and I guess not judging the output. Like, not being so harsh on the outcome that, you know, it's like, "Oh, this isn't good enough,"  I think that for someone who is probably quite a strong perfectionist when it comes to day-to-day, it's sort of like, "Oh, this is really refreshing and a really kind of grounding practice that actually feels like I'm learning and pushing myself and pushing my boundaries, but then challenging the ideals as well about how women are perceived and how women's bodies are everyone's property. And it's just like, actually, that's not it. Like, you haven't seen the point.

Lis: And I think, actually, all of these reasons you're listing, that's why it works so well, because you've explored this process. You've thought about it and you've questioned things and you've evolved, and it's not just like, "Well, I'm going to take photos in lingerie." You've very thoughtfully explored it.

Kirsty: It's nice, too, that I never created for a specific audience in mind, but I also never created it for any one type of person or gender or anything like that. And I think it's really nice that people in general can see that sort of beauty in what I'm doing, in terms of the images, themselves. And also, I'm getting a lot of people who email me or message me saying, "Thank you so much for sharing, you know, either how you're feeling or your confidence is inspiring and made me feel so much better in where I'm at in my journey." And it's sort of like, oh, okay, well that's reaffirming, I'm happy to help. I'm happy that I can help some people feel a bit more comfortable in themselves and where they're at.

Lis: I think the fact that you are getting this feedback from the community proves there is something universal about the idea and, you know, that it's resonating and that it's something that's within us all, to a certain extent. And you're just one of the leaders who's kind of showing us how to express that or how to be okay with that and that's a really wonderful thing, I think.

Kirsty: Oh, thanks a lot. Yeah, I never see myself as that, but at the same time, I definitely feel like ... I wasn't one of the first people to do it  in that platform and in that environment, but at the same time, it's sort of evolved to be my own kind of signature. I mean, it's also just helped me figure out who I am and actually not be afraid of who I am, 'cause I probably resisted a lot about my personality and the not so good stuff, or the more sexy side of me, too. I sort of have always been a little bit resistant of that. And I think by doing this account in this way, it's sort of made me actually embrace those more shadowy sides of my personality or who I am, but actually celebrate them and almost ... it feels like by doing that, I opened up so many more doors in my life in general. Professionally and in terms of meeting new people, who are doing the same thing, but also models and other people who have a similar vibe and a similar kind of aesthetic. And that's just been really refreshing, I think, and helped me just be like, "It's okay to be who I am, or to be true to who I am as a whole kind of package, rather than just this one little box."  It's just been a bit of a self-discovery journey, and it sounds super narcissistic, I know, but also, I think it's something I needed to go through to feel more  easy in myself and accepting and because of that, a lot of other things have just unfolded for me.

Lis: I mean, even if that feeling was the only thing that came out of this whole project that's amazing. Like, how many people get that in life actually, really?

Kirsty: Exactly. It's kind of paid off. It's paid off.

Lis: Yeah, it's amazing.

Kirsty: Yeah, exactly, and I think the other rewarding part of it is I've actually created something physical, even from a digital kind of medium. I never thought it was possible until putting my mind to doing the calendar and being like, "No, I'm going to do this." And I had a lot of help with that from a designer. Someone helped me with the template and the logo and stuff. But I did all the images myself. But to actually have done that and actually got it printed and finished was almost momentous for me.

Lis: It's a huge achievement.

Kirsty: Well, normally I don't finish creative kind of things. Like if I start knitting or ..

Lis: We've all got a few half finished knitting projects!

Kirsty: Yeah. It's like, "Oh, I'm going to get through that." And I don't really have the desire to pick it up right now, but whereas this, I kind of ... I wanted to give up at multiple points, but I didn't. And I think that is where the real kind of reward has come from.

Lis: It's wonderful - we have our copy hanging here.

Kirsty: Thank you. Thanks for supporting it.

Lis: Of course.

Kirsty: I think it's nice that I got to feature brands that I admire and respect, and who are doing something almost different. As in, it's the same sort of thing that I do, where it's different to the norm, but it's still ... you know, relatable and I think not a lot of brands can say that they're doing that. Especially here in Australia. There's a handful of really good independent, ethical kind of designers and it's nice to be able to celebrate hard work. It's nice to know that there's labels out there doing stuff that celebrates beautiful textures and fabrics and is kind to the environment, and made in a way that isn't mass produced.

Lis: I think it's something that NICO and Tempest Hurricane have in common, an appreciation for underwear being more than just a garment, but actually being something that ... I don't know, it creates confidence, or it's about your femininity, and that's like a really important thing to be conscious of, and the way that you wear it and the way you feel when you wear it.

Kirsty: Exactly, and I think that's what it is. Is when you put on something that you've picked for you that feels good on you, it's sort of like, oh, I'm living my best life! I've converted a few people to NICO, actually.

Lis: Oh, thanks!

Kirsty: To be honest, I'm always pointing them in the direction of local designers because it's a great way to support industry and the fashion industry here, but also because you are making something different, and it is exciting and new and also wearable. And I think that is the other selling point, or I think has to be you have to always feel good in it, and I think that's why I started collecting underwear and lingerie and everything else that I collect now to do with undergarments. It's sort of the feeling and just how beautiful they can by and then how beautiful you feel in it, and how comforting that can be.

Lis: Yeah. That's really the premise of what we do here and how we design, but also how we present and communicate. The garment is the idea that real sexiness actually comes from being comfortable and confident, you know. I was so tired of seeing lingerie imagery that was very specifically male-gaze oriented.

Kirsty: And it still is,  and I probably don't think it will ever change, but there's definitely shifts happening at the moment and that have been happening for a couple of years. But it's kind of gaining more and more momentum now, I think. All different bodies and all different styles and young and old. It's sort of like there's a lot more diversity in the ages and how lingerie is depicted, and it's way more realistic because of that. It's actually like, oh, yeah. I want underwear that I can wear when I'm 50 just as much as I want underwear when I’m in my 30s.

Lis: Yeah. And I think it opens up this world of boutique-y kind of lingerie to such a great audience, because so many people just would never have resonated with the way that lingerie was always presented.

Kirsty: Yeah, true.

Lis: So, to be like, "You're included in this now. You're a part of this. You can feel comfortable and at home with this," I think is really important too.

Kirsty: Yeah, it's true.

Lis: Okay last question, and maybe you don't even have an answer to this, but what's next for Tempest? Or is it like one day at a time?

Kirsty: Some days I know and other days I'm like, "What am I doing?!" I think it's slowly becoming more like i need to branch out and start photographing other people.

Lis: Okay. Interesting.

Kirsty: Yeah. But I'm just not quite there yet, or feeling confident enough in my skills to be able to just do that. So it's a matter of just diving in and just trying, because I think that has been the biggest thing I've learned. By trying, I've created something out of nothing. But also something that's sustained.  And that's kind of the fun of it. It's just like ... half the time you don't know until you're halfway through it, and then you're like, "Oh, I'm doing this now and I don't know why, but I love it, so I'm just going to keep going."

Lis: Well, obviously the instincts are on point.

Kirsty: Yeah. Trusting your gut. It's funny how it started from being a bit angry and a bit like, you know, rebellious to then being something that brought me so much joy for myself. Like, really for myself.

Lis: What a nice outcome, to turn that feeling into something so positive.

Kirsty: Yeah. I think it's been the biggest kind of blessing for me. And that sounds really wanky when I say that out loud, but you know what, no. I did this and I'm proud of it and if you don't want to be involved or don't agree with it, then that's okay too. Like you don't need to be, because it's not for you. And I think that's the message. It's not for anyone. It was always for me. Which sounds really indulgent, but-

Lis: No. It sounds, actually, very important.

Kirsty: Yeah. It was just like, you know what, it doesn't matter.

Lis: That's awesome. I love it. Thank you so much for your time!

 


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