She is the striking fashionista with that enviable cool-girl style, effortlessly morphing between high-street darling to vintage goddess. Helene Herbert is the Adelaide beauty behind the ever successful and irresistibly lust worthy insta-blog Umami Jungle.
Mixing the best of luxury labels, high street fashion and vintage finds, Umami Jungle is the ultimate style mecca, inspiring us all to be creative, adventurous and to just have fun with fashion.
We caught up with Helene to talk all about fashion, the inspiration behind her blog, and her flourishing career in the local fashion industry.
Lets start by stating the obvious. Your fashion sense is incredible! You manage to mix basics, vintage finds and high-profile fashion labels together and make it work. Where do you find inspiration from when dressing day-to-day and dressing for your blog, Umami Jungle?
I love looking at street style photos from Paris and New York Fashion Week. The guests there rarely hold back and their willingness to stretch their style limits is very inspiring. I also feel inspiried when I visit vintage stores. I go in there knowing that no item of clothing is copied or following a current trend. I love to look at the pieces and envisage how I could make them work. When I have time, I also love looking at editorial shoots in magazines such as Oyster, Russh and Elle. They tend to experiment a lot, which is always inspiring.
What is Umami Jungle?
Umami Jungle has fun with fashion and doesn’t like to play by the rules. Experimentation is a passion and it runs on instinct.
What inspired you to launch your style blog Umami Jungle?
I think my personal style has been something that has defined me a lot through life. I was a very quiet girl in school so I would express myself through my dress. I dressed for myself and I think that helped build my confidence a lot. I honestly didn’t worry if I was told my outfit was too outrageous and ghastly, because I thought it was awesome and felt amazing in it. It was at a breakfast where a group of my friends suggested I start an Instagram Fashion Blog. A talented close friend immediately became my photographer and we started taking practice shots that day! We were both rookies to photography and modelling, but we became addicted and worked towards consistently improving and raising the profile of UJ. I haven’t looked back since.
Umami Jungle is a very interesting name for a blog. What was the inspiration behind it?
I was reading a friend’s Elle Magazine on the way to Thailand and saw an article called “Umami Tsunami”. The word jumped out at me, I loved the sound of it! When I read the article I discovered that ‘umami’ is in fact the fifth taste with sweet, salty, sour and bitter. It’s a glutamate flavour. I thought it was amazing how most people would know the first four tastes so well, but not the fifth one, even though it’s always existed. I felt this reflected my style in some way. I wear items that can be bought from normal everyday stores, but I style them in a way people may not have thought of before. Like ‘umami’, always there but not known… and isn’t ‘jungle’ just a lovely, luscious word.
Has fashion always been something you were interested in?
For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in clothing and personal style. I’m not as interested in the trend aspect of fashion however. I began designing when I was 10 and won a national design competition when I was 17 years old. I studied Fashion Design the year after I finished high school, though decided it was something I didn’t want to pursue at that point in my life. I continued to sew for fun and business but ultimately it is style where I feel most enriched.
You recently styled a shoot with Adelaide’s own TEO Magazine. What was that experience like? Do you see yourself working a fashion stylist in the near future?
What a great experience that was! I’ve wanted to do something like that for a while, so was ecstatic when TEO Magazine asked me. They gave me so much freedom to interpret the brief as I wished. I loved the team I was working with too. And yes, at this point in my life, being a successful editorial fashion stylist is my dream career.
Besides blogging, what else do you get up to in your spare time?
I currently work as a Visual Merchandiser. I’m also studying an online photography course at the moment, to sharpen my skills. There’s always more to learn! I love my hot yoga, walking my dog and wining and dining with my hilarious, eclectic group of friends.
Do you have any style icons that you look up to? If so who are they and why?
I can’t say I do actually. I’ve always had a thing for the “off-duty model” look, but I’m obsessed with everything FKA Twigs at the moment… but really, who isn’t?!
The blog features a mix of branded labels and vintage pieces. Which do you prefer when shopping for yourself?
Nothing can ever replace that exquisite vintage piece that no one else has. The one that has been made with precision and fits you perfectly. For the excitement and creativity factors, I would have to say vintage for the win!
For more Umami Jungle, check out Helene's Instagram.