Art & Design


Phoebe Montague from Lady Melbourne

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Like the trends it reports, fashion media is constantly changing – and so it would seem are its methods of communication. In recent years fashion blogging has exploded into this highly stylised and competitive sphere, offering a fresh perspective, authenticity and more personal approach.

In a bloggersphere where image is king (or queen), Lady Melbourne is a fine example of a blogger combining content with a unique visual narrative showcasing her own style philosophy as a lady about town.

Milk Bar had a chat with Phoebe Montague, the lady behind the blog…

MILK BAR: How did you get into fashion blogging?

PHOEBE MONTAGUE: I started my blog in February 2007 and the appeal lay in the self publishing aspect. If you cast your mind back to 2007 fashion blogging simply didn’t exist in Australia as it does now.

I wanted to express the amazing fashion that I saw all around but that you would just never see in magazines. The blog allowed me to do that.

MB: For new fashion bloggers, what’s the best way to start?

PM: There’s no best way as I see it, you just start! That’s the beauty of blogging, anyone can do it.

MB: Are you a full-time blogger?

PM: I suppose you could say that, but I don’t sit at my desk all day and simply ‘blog.’

I lecture at the Centre for Adult Education and RMIT on blogging, I do consulting work on digital strategy, public speaking and I recently had a hand in organising Fashionopolis, Australia’s first ever national fashion blogging conference.

MB: How did you make your blog profitable?

PM: Not to sound glib but I didn’t have a strategy and have no idea how I originally attracted people to advertise! Looking back I suppose it was creating strong, covetable content on a daily basis. The content and your original eye is what advertisers are looking for in blogs, and that was what I was doing anyway.

Along the way I’ve learned a huge amount about marketing, advertising and working with brands and that has helped me make it profitable. I have to point out though that I’ve been doing this for over five years and it’s certainly not been an overnight success. Most people would say you were crazy to pursue something for years on end that didn’t make you any money….but I did!

MB: What is your advice to establish a fashion blog as a brand?

PM: Man, I could talk about this all day! In a nutshell I would say that you need to pay attention to your social media platforms, create original content, have beautiful photos and behave in a professional manner.

MB: Do you find there is a well-established fashion blogging community in Melbourne?

PM: There is, but we work hard at it by having regular catch ups, meetings and events that we organise.

MB: Often the content you share is personal, how do you balance the private and public?

PM: You don’t post private photos of yourself on the internet! For me the line is really clear – I don’t talk about being drunk/hung over, I don’t complain about mundane things like parking fines, I don’t talk about my health or personal life. It’s pretty simple in my opinion.

MB: Have you established a strong community with your readers? How have you done this?

PM: For me and my blog it’s been about longevity. I have readers that have been with me since the beginning and they have bought with them new readers on my journey in blogging. Some women have told me that they’ve introduced their daughters to Lady Melbourne after reading it and enjoying it themselves.

I’m also extremely active on social media and use Pinterest, Instagram  (@lady_melbourne), Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis. I use YouTube to share my content as well.

MB: How was Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2012? Can you tell us about some of the key trends?

PM: Florals on everything. That could pretty much sum it up in a sentence! I saw floral dresses, pants, suits, jackets, shorts – the lot!

I love going to Australian Fashion Week because you get the most amazing fashion folk from all over the country come together for one week to live, breath and talk fashion. I find it endlessly inspiring.

MB: As a Melbournian, are there any particular events that keep you connected to the blogging community?

PM: Probably for fashion blogging I’d say L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival because you all end up in the same place at the same time. Spring Fashion Week is the same.

Aside from that these days I’m noticing that brands are hosting events just for bloggers which is great, we organise our own or I end up at things like the Pro-Blogger conferences. I regard myself as a blogger first and someone who loves fashion second.

MB: How did you develop your blogging ‘voice’ and establish the focus of your blog content?

PM: I didn’t do anything, I just wrote. You’ve either got it or you don’t in my opinion. You can’t fake writing about things with an authentic voice so write about what you love. The focus was pretty simple for me: write about things that you love in the world around you that are fashionable.

MB: What’s next?

PM: More overseas travel, ramping up my consulting work and taking on an intern. In my spare time I’m plotting world domination. You know, the usual.

Find out more about Lady Melbourne on her blog or join in the Twitter conversation @ladymelbourne

Follow Liz Banks-Anderson on Twitter @lbanksanderson

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