For Heleena Trahanas, there’s an art to getting dressed. “I choose my accessories based on the canvas I’m wearing – which is my clothing,” she says. “Then I try to create a conversation between my accessories and clothes, thinking about shape and colour. They can complement, or clash. It’s like an art form – a way I can express myself.”
As the public relations and marketing manager for Dinosaur Designs, Heleena is the sartorial equivalent of a bibliophile in a bookshop, and confesses she has 200-300 bangles stored in drawers at home. (She also has 22 rings on her bedside table and for our shoot she’s wearing all of them.)
Heleena has loved Dinosaur Designs’ resin jewellery since she was a teenager, buying her first piece – a black boulder bangle that’s still in production – when she was 15. “My next purchase was a really long black necklace to complement it,” she says. And apart from a brief, ill-advised flirtation with surf wear, Heleena has stayed true to her now-signature style ever since.
Heleena wears (main shot) shirt by Aje; Dinosaur Designs black resin rock bangle, $90, firestone brass bangle, $310; Louise Olsen x Alex and Trahanas hoop earrings, $290; rings Heleena’s own, from travels to Greece and New York, and from Dinosaur Designs (similar here and here).
“I’d describe my style as quite diverse, chameleon, bold, avant-garde, contemporary, playful,” she laughs, as she reels off a long list of adjectives. “I don’t like to overdress in terms of clothing, but I think accessories can make an outfit – they can really elevate it. I just love them so much.”
At home in Sydney, her extensive wardrobe is a mix of Australian designer and international brands – favourites include Christopher Esber, Bassike, Dion Lee, Dries Van Noten and Comme de Garcons. “I’m not really into trends – I buy pieces I can see myself wearing forever,” she says. “At the moment my go-to piece for going out is my Issey Miyake Pleats Please black jumpsuit.”
She also likes to dress for comfort: “There are no skyscraper heels in my wardrobe. I think I have close to 100 flats, mainly sandals and sneakers, all in cupboards. They’re not very organised.”
An enthusiastic traveller pre-Covid, Heleena picks up pieces – often bangles – overseas while she’s also sourcing for the online store, Alex and Trahanas, that she runs with a friend. For one collection, they collaborated with Dinosaur Designs co-founder Louise Olsen to create a range of sculptural earrings.
“With Alex and Trahanas, we want to bring a touch of the Mediterranean to Australia,” she says. “I have a Greek background, so I’ve been to several beautiful places in Greece, as well as other European countries, and then India and Mexico.”
Other influences on her style are her mother and grandmother, who was always impeccably dressed. “She always had the most beautiful things,” says Heleena thoughtfully. “But I feel like I kind of created my own sense of style. I don’t really like wearing what everyone else wears.”
Personal style, she believes, comes from focussing inwardly on your own values, rather than chasing transient fashions or trying to look like someone else. “It’s about celebrating what you feel comfortable wearing,” she says. “You have to be true to yourself. Dressing is a way I can express myself and just be me.”
Photographer: Simon Upton
Stylist: Jana Pokorny
Hair and make-up: Sarah Tammer
Photographer’s assistant: Lewis Stevenson
Stylist’s assistant: Emily Gittany
Hair and make-up assistant: Tracie Lai
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