The first time I met Savannah, I was captivated by her effervescence. There’s an indefinable glow about her—she exudes goodness. The founder of Melbourne creative collective Ladies of Leisure (LOL), she possesses a playful, electric sense of style, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that she’s the human embodiment of all things LOL. She has an appreciation and understanding of colour that Naomi Shimada would be proud of, and an enviable collection of gold jewellery and kitsch accessories. Her fun yet carefree approach to fashion crosses over into her beauty aesthetic too—she opts for fresh skin with minimal makeup, but offsets this pared back look with a sparkly blue liner, a shiny green eyeshadow or a bold neon manicure. Savannah is well-known for being generous with her time. She’s always helping connect like-minded people, and LOL is a conduit for this on a larger scale. I’d been a New Zealand fan-girl of LOL since they began, following their output on Instagram and admiring their dedication to creating a community of female-identifying and non-binary people who value compassion, connection, kindness and creativity. Now that I’m based in Melbourne, I’ve participated in LOL’s workshops and events and have an even greater appreciation for what they do. You leave their workshops with buckets of genuinely useful advice, a renewed sense of purpose, and often a new friend or two. After taking a hiatus, LOL returned last month with a new website, workshop series, and a physical space. The LOL HQ in Fitzroy is a hub of activity; friendship speed dating, weekly workshops and writers and reader’s clubs are some of the events currently on offer. Like many multi-hyphenate creatives, Savannah works part-time on LOL while doing freelance marketing and other bits and pieces on the side, but something like LOL is never part-time work. It’s a passion project that she’s constantly poring her time into, a way of life that she’s fully dedicated to. Photographer Georgia Smedley and I spent an afternoon with Savannah at her plant-filled, 1970s bungalow in Northcote, where we got a glimpse into her makeup bag, spoke about how New Zealanders can get involved with LOL, and why it’s personality and purpose that makes people truly beautiful.
Hi Sav! Can you give us an overview of what LOL is all about?
LOL started off as a zine about my incredible friends and other women I admired. There was such an incredible response to it at the time, so it just naturally then grew into a collective of female identifying people that support one another. We celebrate weakness, strength, success and the process. We host workshops and make fun merchandise and publications, and we also run panels with great Melbourne organisations like NGV, ACCA and the Emerging Writers’ Festival.
LOL recently opened a beautiful space in Fitzroy where you host workshops and other great events, like friendship speed dating. What made you want to create this physical space for LOL?
After six years it felt like the next step. We’ve run two sets of workshops around Melbourne out of gallery spaces for a couple of weeks at a time. We wanted to lay down roots so we could run workshops, discussions, screenings…basically whatever the hell we wanted! The LOL Space is a safe place where people can open up, learn and feel good.
You worked with New Zealand design studio Meide Studio on your new website. How was that experience and what type of content is featured on the new site?
Working with Meide Studios has been so epic. Sarah and Ellyn are definitely a force to be reckoned with. Since I started working with them, they’ve basically done every notable NZ fashion brand’s website. We really worked hard together to get a website that really felt like LOL. We’re a really small team that works part-time on LOL so we didn’t have the desire to be churning out content, but we wanted to have a platform to put stuff out there and show support. Hence our ‘LOVES’ section…it’s kinda tumblr-esque. We have ‘FEELS’ for interviews and longer form pieces. We want it to be a place where people can share whatever’s on their mind. ‘LOOKS’ is for shoots, because fashion is fun hey?
How can creatives in New Zealand get involved?
I would absolutely LOVE to get more kiwi creatives involved. If ever anyone has an idea for a workshop/someone to lead one/work to submit, we’re totally open to submissions. We would also love some ideas for places to possibly host some workshops in Auckland at the end of the year too, so if anyone has any ideas hit me up!
PHOTOS OF AOL SPACE BELOW BY ANU KUMAR