French blogger and author Audrey Fitzjohn brings a unique tactile aesthetic to her interiors and styling work in her adopted country of New Zealand.
Eight years ago French-born Audrey Fitzjohn attended her first Kiwi barbeque. When it came time to eat, she was handed a paper plate with a sausage wrapped in bread on it. It was a moment of confusion and dismay; while she appreciated the easy, laid-back nature of the offer, it was the antithesis of her traditional French upbringing.
“My grandfather was a pastry chef and owned a boulangerie-pâtisserie with my grandmother; holidays at their house in Brittany revolved around meals and meal preparation. The house smelled of food the minute we woke up.”
But the offending paper plate and sausage, far from putting this stylist, author, blogger and photographer off her adopted home, set her on a path of creating a style fusion that takes in the best of both cultures.
Audrey’s foray into interiors took place in France prior to landing on our shores. While studying law in Paris, she began collecting vintage fabrics and furniture from the eighteenth century. A passion was born and she left her studies to pursue her new career.
In a short time, Audrey had amassed a devoted following on social media (she was one of the earliest to uptake the Instagram platform) and it led her to publish a book, Esprit de Famille, which celebrates sewing with antique french fabrics – still a bestseller in France today.
Naturally, Audrey’s aesthetic is heavily influenced by her love of history and the stories that well-worn pieces tell. Grainy linens, faded backdrops, lovingly woven baskets and furniture with a patina feature heavily in her work as well as in her own home. Her fusion of simplicity and tactility is a signature style that has evolved from using social media and blogging as a platform to express her creativity.
Creativity-wise, Audrey credits her mother with the confidence she has in her styling choices.
“I always grew up with her telling me that nothing was impossible, that I could do and be however I wanted. She herself had an inclination for interiors and I was bathed in her interest in the subject. From the age of 10 I was given entire freedom as per how to decorate my bedroom, from the wallpaper, to the floors, to the furniture. These were big decisions for a 10-year-old and never at any point did I feel the weight of her approval or disapproval over my choices.”
These days it’s Audrey’s clients and followers who benefit from her creative confidence. When putting together a project, she gives herself several days to let the idea ruminate, before putting it into action.
“I never have an exact image I want to create but I always know the feel,” she says.
Given her particular strength for styling beautiful product shots in the kitchen, It’s hardly surprising that Audrey returned to the gastronomic roots of her childhood; she’s authored several cookbooks over the past couple of years, styled in her signature aesthetic.
Maintaining control over the photography, styling and recipe development of her work, the self-confessed perfectionist says she must be happy with every detail before completing a project.
Audrey has lived in Hamilton with Kiwi husband Elliot Fitzjohn and their three-year-old son for eight years now and makes an effort to maintain French traditions around food. But while you won’t find a paper plate at her house, she now loves informal Kiwi barbeques “I can see the happiness in it – it just took me some time to see it,” she laughs.