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My style story: artist Laxmi Hussain

My style story: artist Laxmi Hussain

The art in Laxmi Hussain’s Wembley studio is bursting with vivid shades of blues. Blues on canvas, blues on scraps of paper, blues on pages of old novels plucked from used bookstores. Her wardrobe, on the other hand, is a lot more like a blank canvas: it’s predominantly neutral, functional, and an homage to the milestones in her life, from the birth of her three children to a new chapter in her art career. 

At Thread, we care a lot about the unique stories behind people's individual style choices. They’re what transform outfits from something one-dimensional and secondary into something meaningful and celebratory. So to best understand Laxmi’s, she invited us to shadow her for a day in her studio, where we learned more about the moments that have shaped her style thus far, how motherhood has made her a more confident dresser, and why she reserves blue for the canvas only. 

You may end up seeing a bit of yourself in Laxmi, or at the very least, challenge yourself to think about the experiences that have shaped your own style. Now that’s a story we’d like to know.

How would you describe your personal style

I like to wear clothes that allow me to breathe and get through my day. I'm running around after the three kids, so I don't want to feel constricted. I have this element of breathability, which I think definitely inspires my wardrobe. 

What are you wearing when you feel your most confident?

I feel really at home in a shirt. And I don't feel the need for it to be fitted. I just quite like that it moves with me.

Tell us about your approach to day-to-day dressing

A daily outfit for me would definitely be a good pair of trousers, so I can feel smart if I need to go somewhere unexpectedly, but also comfortable so I can run around after my kids. I think that that element of touch and connection with other people and being comfortable in yourself reads differently to when you're uncomfortable. And I think clothes definitely show that. So if you're comfortable in your behaviors and in your mannerisms, the clothes reflect how comfortable you are.

What does getting dressed up look like for you?

For a wedding, I'd definitely love to do something a bit different, so I would choose a saree, which again is very breathable. And you know, it's easy for me to walk around, but it also feels really glamorous and different. Equally for a Christmas party or a birthday party, I'd still choose something that has a similar cut to what I would wear normally, but I'd love it to have a unique pattern.

Tell us about your signature glasses 

Everyone warned me against the glasses that I'm wearing. But when I put them on, I’m like, yeah, that's me. I think rather than asking, is it going to work, just have a look and see if it does. And if you feel comfortable, then that's ultimately the goal, isn't it?

What other items can’t you live without?

I couldn't live without a couple of black t-shirts and my boiler suit, which I can use if I'm having a super messy day and not worry so much about getting ruined, but also still feel really comfortable in. I also can't live without my jewellery.

How would you describe your wardrobe colour palette?

Everyone always expects me to turn up in blue. And because blue is so personal to me, I almost feel like I don't want to release that all the time. And I think that's why I don't wear blue. And even though my art is out in the world, it's still very personal to me. So I come here and this is my world of blue, whereas when I go out, I'm not necessarily trying to show that off. 

I'm drawn to more natural colors like soft wood tones and greens. I have a huge collection of plants, and I like how colors talk to each other, but in a more natural way. My mum was very connected to nature and I feel that I am. I feel that that is definitely how I also feel, and I think those colors are things that tend to reach out to me.

Tell us about the use of blue in your art?

It's related to my connection to my mum. I lost my mum nearly four years ago, and in lots of my childhood memories, she's wearing blue and lots of it. I didn't realise that until she had passed away, and I became really obsessed with the colour.

What style lessons did your mum teach you?

My mum was a seamstress, a very, very good one. She didn't pursue it as a career here because it just wasn't something that she thought was that accessible, but she was incredible. She made dresses when I was a baby. I was always in these really fancy dolly dresses that she made intricately. But my mum loved to dress simply, which I’m definitely inspired by. She always looked really cool and trendy. 

Photographed: Carhartt WIP Carhartt Janet Liner ($256)

How has your style changed since becoming a mum?

I've become more confident in what I wear because there's so much to motherhood that is just mental and overwhelming and also really beautiful, and it changes your confidence in that there is so much going on, and I can do all of it and still love it. So why can't I do all the other things that I really want to do and just not feel conscious about it? So now I'm just like, I'm going to wear what I want to wear. And I think that's definitely been governed by me becoming a mum. It's very freeing.

How has that way of thinking influenced your work?

My work is inspired by the body and more recently, how a vessel can change over time. I never really paid attention to my body in that way until I had my last baby (number three). And I think it's because my work hadn't really started in this style when I had my older children, and I didn't feel comfortable with my body and how it had changed so dramatically through both pregnancies and then changed again once the babies were born. But this time I was like, look, I feel so differently about my body and want to document and embrace that. 

Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Liz Seabrook
Styling: Millie Rich