For our second instalment of Better Than I Was Yesterday, we approached art director and stylist Natalie (Nat) Turnbull. A long-time friend of PRGRSS, Nat’s style has become synonymous with crisp minimalism that allows the subject to speak for itself. Nat attributes her spatial awareness for still life to understanding shape, material and form. Partnering with friend and regular collaborator Victoria Zschommler on this series, the images show Nat’s work at the top of its game – finding beauty in the unexpected and purpose in the seemingly effortless.
We sat down with Nat to discuss a bunch of random stuff – some serious, some ridiculous – that you can read about below. You can shop the Nat Turnbull edit here.
Hey Nat! Cats or dogs?
Dogs! I like cats, but I’m highly allergic so I admire their beauty and weirdness from afar.
Is there a go-to song on set at the moment?
Generally I love ambient beat-y or low fi jazz kind of music. I call it elevator music haha. That’s my go to even if it drives other people mad.
Who’s your favourite photographer to work with and why?
I can’t pick a favourite, because everyone brings something different to the creative process.
Do aliens exist?
You can only stare at one chair for the rest of your life – what chair are you choosing?
LC7 by Charlotte Perriand for Cassina. I saw her exhibition at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris a few years ago and was blown away. I had always loved the chair, but after learning more and seeing how ahead of her time she was, I love it even more now.
How does the fashion industry overcome its obsession with ‘more’ and disposability?
It’s a big question without a simple answer. The fashion world is slowly moving in the right direction. Brands are much more aware of sustainable practises. It’s a two-way street though – it’s up to both the brands and the consumers to show their values and act upon them.
On that note, what’s the worst outfit you’ve ever worn and is there photographic evidence of its existence?
Sadly I have so many and my friends and siblings could remind me of even more, I’m sure. I wore these fish net black gloves with the fingers cut out to my grade 6 disco. I’m sure it must have been a fashion statement at the time…but I sure do hope there’s no photographic evidence of it.
How do you build camaraderie on set and is it important to you to work with people that you know and trust?
We work with different people each day, and sure, you do often loop around and work with the same people regularly, but it’s important to always be open and willing to learn and listen to new opinions regarding work. It’s nice to be challenged by someone or something new. In general shit talking or chit chat about what shows you’ve been watching, what restaurants you have been to etc. are good ice breakers to get to know someone on set and in turn build camaraderie.
What makes a perfect image?
A perfect image doesn’t exist in my opinion. Something can be beautiful and ‘finished’, or at a place where you feel happy to stop but perfection is in some ways devoid of feeling or intrigue. Something that is too perfect often lacks that further enquiry into what it might mean or how it makes you feel.
What was your favourite movie as a kid?
I love the Goonies!
If you could work with any brand in the world on a shoot, who would it be and why?
A few! I love Acne, Loewe, Chanel, Prada, Hermes, Bottega, Proenza, Marni, Jil Sander…the list goes on and I couldn’t pick just one. What unites them for me is that I love what they do – they challenge the norm with their products and their brand aesthetics.
What’s for dinner?
It’s Sunday, so left overs from my parents for lunch, paired with my favourite new thing, my dad’s ‘Very Tasty Brinjal’, a delicious spiced Indian eggplant pickle that we have all just convinced him to start bottling and possibly sell soon. I put it on everything!