Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
Zara Wong

Zara Wong On Her Style, Career, And Cult Newsletter ‘Screenshot This’

We sat down with Zara Wong at her Sydney home to talk career, style and her role as a mother.

Every millennial will know the name Zara Wong. One of the most successful figures in Australian media, Zara lists Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, MECCA, and Aje Collective on her resume.

Zara was drawn to the world of media, storytelling, and fashion at just seven years old. Growing up in the capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, the Wong family only had three television channels to watch at home: ABC, Channel 10, and CNN. 

“My mother and I used to love ‘Style with Elsa Klensch’, and would watch her interview Giorgio Armani, or visit Ian Schrager’s Royalton Hotel, and discuss the trend of boutique hotels,” Zara tells The Inarra

Since childhood, Zara’s love of style has never wavered. “As a teenager, I was basically 13 going on 30 and not in that fun romcom Jennifer Garner-movie way, in that boring way where I could not wait to be a grown-up and work at a magazine. I knew early on what I liked and didn’t like.” 

“I remember ripping out an image of Gwyneth Paltrow in a black shirt, bootcut denim jeans, and a crystal brooch,” she recalls. “I would have been 15, and I replicated that outfit with jeans I bought in Hong Kong, a shirt probably from the likes of Marcs on sale, and a vintage brooch from the Balmain markets.” 

A fellow fashion enthusiast, her mother owned a boutique in Port Moresby where she would stock a roster of Australian designers. But that didn’t mean it was easy for Zara to make her foray into the fashion industry.

“Although I loved fashion – my mother and her mother are both very stylish – I had zero contacts” Zara explains. “But I am a good researcher, I would regularly read the masthead, so I did a lot of cold-calling and emailing. I was persistent!” 

And the hard work eventually paid off. Zara’s first internship was at American Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily in the financial reporting department. “I got in because I was one of the rare applicants studying finance, so I could read a balance sheet!” she laughs.

“Internships in those days were a lot more prevalent in the USA so easier to crack,” Zara continues. “I stayed in very basic student housing, a dorm room with shared bathrooms, and interned in New York for three months.”

“I did not buy one maternity item because I loathed the idea of wearing something for such a short period of time. I learnt early on that ‘dressing casually’ just does not work for me. I really enjoy how style is a way to express yourself – it’s not just about the trends, but how you can be whatever you want to be.”
Zara Wong

Zara wears Oroton shirt and pants and The Row shoes

Zara Wong

Zara wears Aje coat, Zara jeans and RM Williams boots

Zara Wong

Zara wears Solaqua dress and Acne Studios blazer

Zara Wong

Zara wears Oroton shirt and pants and The Row shoes

With one of the industry’s most coveted names on her resume, it wasn’t long until Zara secured an internship at Harper’s Bazaar and was offered a job whilst still at university. She stayed there for five years before taking a seat at Australian Vogue in 2012, where she worked her way up to the position of Fashion Features and Content Strategy Director.  

“While Vogue was always one of my goals, you can’t really plan it,” she says. “You need to keep your eyes and ears open and work hard so that when you’re at the right place at the right time, it would just be kismet.” 

After her impressive career at Vogue, Zara secured a role as Head of Content at Australian beauty giant MECCA, before moving into her current position as GM of Brand and Content at Aje Collective. 

With her finger firmly on the digital pulse, it’s not surprising Zara has also created her own corner of the internet: ‘Screenshot This’. Born out of the depths of Melbourne’s lockdown, the writer found the newsletter helped to keep track of the days and weeks.

A round-up of what Zara is reading, watching, eating, buying, and listening to, pop culture nerds around the world look forward to ‘Screenshot This’ fluttering into their inbox (ourselves included).  

“I’m a big sharer of information; if I stumble upon a new cafe, I can’t wait to tell my friends about it. If I see a dress that you wanted on sale, I’ll text it to you,” Zara says. 

After welcoming her first child, Frederick, with husband Matthew in August 2022, followers have now also turned to Zara for maternity style advice. 

Counting Sofia Coppola, Bianca Jagger, and Alexa Chung as her fashion icons, the former Vogue editor is renowned for her brilliant style. But maternity wear was not on the agenda for the new mother.

“I did not buy one maternity item because I loathed the idea of wearing something for such a short period of time,” Zara says. “I learnt early on that ‘dressing casually’ just does not work for me. I really enjoy how style is a way to express yourself – it’s not just about the trends, but how you can be whatever you want to be.”

“And what I wanted to be was myself – and I would never have worn leggings, sneakers, and a sweatshirt anyway, so being pregnant or a new mum was not the time to do it!”

Since welcoming her son Freddie, Zara has balanced parenthood and work, taking everything in her stride. “To be honest, I really just took it as it came,” she says. “I think how one approaches one’s career and ambitions is always in flux, and now with the changing ways of working, there are so many other variables at home.”

Between work, writing her newsletter, and navigating motherhood, there’s one project in particular that Zara is excited to get stuck into. 

“I only moved back to Sydney a year ago, so I’m slowly putting finishing touches onto our home,” she says. “I’m looking forward to working on that for the next 12 months – and probably, beyond!” 

Zara Wong

Zara wears Aje coat, Zara jeans and RM Williams boots

Your Fashion Questions Answered With Zara Wong 

 

Who are your all-time favourite designers, and why?

I love international blockbuster designers, Tom Ford for Gucci, 80s Chanel, and the idea of vintage Balenciaga (operative word being the idea of – I don’t own any true vintage Balenciaga, just Ghesquière era!), Prada, Miu Miu, Loewe, Marni during the Consuelo era, and Dries Van Noten, always. For contemporary brands, Khaite, Toteme, Blazé Milano and Sacai. 

Australian brands, Aje, and for full disclosure, I work there now; and I have older Aje pieces from 2017/2018 which are SO GOOD, and I still wear them now. And so many other Australian and New Zealand brands: Maggie Marilyn creates a whole world you want to be a part of, Harris Tapper, Beare Park, Alemais, Anna Quan, Christopher Esber, Lee Mathews, and so many more. 

 

What wardrobe essentials do you recommend investing in?

Uniqlo, COS, and Zara have so many great options now, they were not around when I was growing up. My test when I buy something is to think about whether I can see myself wearing it in 10, 20, and 30 years’ time. I have clothes from my late teens and early twenties that I still own and wear now – they’re practically vintage. If it’s a trend, sleep on it! 

 

Can you share your wardrobe heroes for prenatal and postnatal women?

  • Pants: Joseph, Theory.
  • Breastfeeding-friendly tops: LMND, Aje.
  • Breastfeeding-friendly dresses: Caroline Constas (I have one from her with a stretchy one-shoulder neckline that’s a great cocktail dress), Aje, Reformation, Lee Mathews. 
  • Baby bag: I bought a bag insert and used my regular bags.
  • Outerwear garments: A trench coat from By Malene Birger, a GREAT one that my mind found for me from Zara Collection, and my mum’s amazing Fendi cashmere wool coat from the 80s. I wore that a lot in Melbourne. 
  • Event pieces: Toteme has some great empire-line pieces that are great for pregnancy – size up! 

 

What three items are you in your shopping basket right now?

A Khaite Leather Belt, a Blazé Milano Missy Jacket, a Kassl coat. 

 

Where do you shop for investment basics?

I try not to wear anything just for a season. I love basics from COS and Uniqlo – there’s a reason why they’re so successful. 

 

What were your go-to items during pregnancy?

The Row leggings, which sounds lush, but they were on sale, and so many fine-knit Merino wool turtlenecks from Country Road and COS. In terms of more fun items, I bought a strapless pink Toteme top and a vintage Dries Van Noten metallic knit from The RealReal! 

 

Words By Danielle Fowler | Photography by Kaitlyn Bosnjak

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