Awake Past Midnight


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Jeff Hahn, Squiz Hamilton,Various
01 Sunday 01st April 2012

We chatted to Kelly and Jay about the personal story behind the brand, their past as teen design mavericks and just what else APM can stand for when the pressure’s on. Read on to find out.

main image: Elliot Joseph Rentz for Ribbed Magazine

Dunja Knezevic (of the Model's Union) for The Ones 2 Watch Magazine

So what’s Team APM been working on recently?

Kelly: Mostly music at the moment, to be honest. We've been taking on a lot of Sony's up and coming artists like EJ, whom we’re working heavily with at the moment. We're still doing a few editorials on the side but music's kind of taking over our lives [she laughs]!

How long have you two been styling together?

Jay: Officially now it's about two and a half years. It's just one of those things where when we started working together it felt right and snowballed: now here we are! It's crazy to think back to the stuff we first did.

So unofficially, how did you first meet?

K: We were both in this young designer competition, which I won the first year and Jay won the second year. He came up to me, little seventeen-year old Jay, and was all "can you give me any advice on how you won?" [Jay laughs].

J: We were little kids but thought we knew everything about fashion! We were given these amazing opportunities to go to Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica, New York Fashion Week; it was incredible being so young and just thrown into that high energy environment straight away. This is years ago now: we've built up a strong friendship since which is a great foundation for a business. It's not to say we don't argue, because we do [he laughs], but it feels right.

K: Yeah, we have our moments!

Shaun Ross in The Ones 2 Watch Magazine Issue #19, styled by APM

You guys have some great work under your belts. How did you go from design to styling though? How easy a transition was it to make?

K: I think we're just frustrated designers! [she and Jay laugh]

J: I was just about to say the exact same thing. Coming from showing our clothes at such a young age to putting looks together using other designers' clothes, we sometimes have that 'why did the hell have they done it like this? Why didn't they use that fabric?' moment. Styling is secondary to design anyway, so I feel as though we're very involved in the whole process.

We're at the stage where we want to develop a line, but won't rush it. We want to do it properly.

K: I also think we were young, you know? We were seventeen when we started designing and I look back and absolutely hate my work from then [she laughs]. I've deleted the photos of clothes I made then because at that time I wasn't ready to fully be a designer! We're learning from styling how to go back to our original design roots, though styling has my heart now too.

Elliot Joseph Rentz Autumn/Winter 2012, styled by APM

What informs your choices for each individual when pulling red carpet or public appearance looks? Do you use their past style, or come to it with your own fresh ideas?

K: We work collaboratively with our clients, whether that's a good or bad thing. We always want to know their opinions, and to meet in the middle. It does complicate things sometimes, when the two visions are coming from different places but we always try make the person feel as good as possible.

In the beginning we'd push looks onto them, and you could tell when they didn't feel comfortable. We learned from that.

J: For us it's really about them getting involved. The public can tell when something's falsified, so I don't like forcing a look on a client. We like our acts to look like themselves, which hopefully you can see through our work.

K: Doing Jourdan [Dunn] for the MOBOs was so much fun, for example, because she's such a chameleon and could pull off anything.

Jourdan Dunn at the MOBO Awards 2012, styled by APM

How did you put yourselves out there and bag the jobs with people like her, Michelle Williams, Jamelia and so on?

J: I think a lot of it came from being in the right place at the right time, especially in the beginning. We used to get a lot of work through word of mouth and people believing in us. That in turn reinforced our belief in what we were doing, allowing us to be signed with an agency and put out into the ‘real world’ of official styling. We were very lucky like that.

Do any particular jobs stand out to you? Were there ones where you just thought 'oh wow, if this doesn't fall into place now I'm going to lose it'?

J: Erm, every client! [we all laugh] We have a running joke that APM stands for Awake Past Midnight on the one hand, Always Produces Miracles on the flipside. So much work goes into every project, it's not just about going shopping and putting clothes on someone.

Hadouken! - Oxygen video, styled by APM

Is there any aspect of your work at the moment that inspires you most? Personal? Editorial?

K: Ooh, that's hard.

J: That's a question.

K: Yeah, I'd say that editorial has our heart but music keeps us running -

J: If you know what I mean [he chuckles]. I could never pick, but I'm happy that we're moving forward, more than anything. As time goes by and things get bigger I think it'll all come together as a whole.


Keep up with Awake Past Midnight on their site, and check out their blog for a look behind-the-scenes on their shoots, and their visual inspiration log.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.


  • Guest: nicwalker41
    Tue 02 - Jul - 2013, 18:56
    its just a pity kelly nicholls carnt fullfill her eBay obligations and send out items that hard working people like me have paid for....