In the first scene, a demonic pixie crouches in a green haze, cold metal piercings twinkling on its jutting, monstrous brow bone. Wrapped around its body is a generic, white extension cord.
Now to the second scene, where local rapper Mulalo stands tall, dressed in the shredded remains of a little black dress. The garment’s fibres gape, exposing dirty tire tracks that run all over her body.
In a third, even stranger scene, three goblin beings crouch in a fluorescent deep-sea swamp. Giant sulphuric bubbles float in the foreground, their oily surface refracting a landscape of neon coral, giant mushrooms and sublime weeds.
This is no lucid dream. You’ve entered the world of stylist, photographer, and designer Rose Pure.
Katherine Rose is the genius behind the moniker, pushing boundaries far beyond conventionality into a dazzling realm that is at once surprising, salacious and more than a little bit sexy. In Rose Pure’s world, things are rarely what they seem, fantasy is the rule, and there’s always a story beneath the shimmering, sweaty surface.
Raised near the Gold Coast, in the bushy, vacant reserves of Queensland’s “hinterland”, Kat moved to Melbourne at age 22 like so many stifled creatives before her. It was for a budget-less music video styling job, but an in was an in, and the job was her out – of her home-state, that is. She made the move, knowing no-one. But the tacky, performative, glowing-tan-and-neon lifestyle of the sunshine state never left her heart or imagination.
“It definitely inspires me. I think the Gold Coast is so fake-glamorous, surfy and tacky,” Kat told VICE.
“When I started doing surf-core shoots, I was poking fun at how people there really think it’s THE culture. It’s so funny, and I love to express a sense of humour through that aesthetic.”
Kat’s fantasy land meshes references from the digital to the hyper-real, with small Easter eggs of iconic Australiana peppered throughout. The result is surprising, nostalgic, and a little bizarre. In a shoot with musician Savage the Girl, a BDSM-style belt is hung with plastic Australiana keyrings. In an editorial with Mulalo, shot on film by Sydney photographer Sly Morikawa, the rapper gets a dirty blonde tail.
“That was so funny,” Kat told VICE.
“I had actually watched that episode of Kath and Kim recently before the shoot, where Kim’s at the wedding and gets super drunk and loses her hair piece, but it falls on her butt, and there’s a horse there, and she’s crawling on the ground.”
“I was like ‘we need to put a hairpiece on Mulalo’s butt, I can’t explain why’. It’s almost a nod to furries, too.”
Kat is a self-taught talent. At a young age, encouraged by supportive parents, she taught herself to sew, and started op shopping and up-cycling her finds. In fact, she’s self-taught all the way, from photography to Photoshop to fashion design, repurposing objects from around her house and the thrift, making her own set pieces when nothing else was right.
“I had this shoot where I wanted a model to do cake-sitting,” Kat said, when asked whether any of her insane ideas had failed.
“I bought a sponge cake and spent all morning decorating it really crazy and had all these candles. I wanted it to be like a poorly made birthday cake. And because I’ve watched cake sitting videos, porn ones obviously, it always looks like the cake goes everywhere. That’s what I expected to happen, but the icing was so hard that she sat on it and it just sunk into itself,” she laughed.
“It was really disappointing. Like, it didn’t go on her butt or anything, I had to rub it into her butt for the photos.”
A handful of assistants helping the disappointed photographer smoosh stale cake onto a model’s butt is a perverse tableaux. But in Rose Pure’s fantasy world, it’s all in a day’s work.
In “Virtual Nymph Play”, a shoot riffing on cyber sex RPG plotlines, Kat had her co-collaborator João bring forth their vision, which involved picking up a whole octopus from the Queen Victoria market. The shoot took place in her bedroom.
“It was so visceral, and like… juicy. It started dripping on all the floors,” Kat shuddered at the memory.
“One model was scared of it, and the other was like ‘put it on me, get it on me, I love this’. So we put it on her naked body. Thank god she was into it.”
Dealing with such sexy subject matter, consent is a huge priority in her work. When styling artists and creatives, Kat said it was important for her to be able to collaborate with the subject, in order to bring their dual vision to fruition.
“Usually I’ll ask them if they have an idea of what they want visually. And I do have, a lot of the time, people coming to me already knowing my work and saying ‘we want you to do what you think is cool’. Which is really fun when people trust me,” Kat said.
Her favourite is styling musicians, because then she can listen to the music and “come up with a visual to match”. Her biggest job to date has been styling All Day, for his music video “Stolen Cars” and national tour.
“I didn’t realise how huge it was ‘til the show was starting,” she said.
“Listening to a whole crowd, a sold-out crowd singing his lyrics, and seeing him up there in st
uff I dressed him in… It felt like a dream. It was so exciting. I feel like moments like that, I have to remember those. You know? That what I’m doing is worth it.”
Kat has just launched her own fashion brand, Shop Pure Obsession (styled as “shop-ure-obsession” on Instagram, living for the puns). The tagline “your business is our pleasure” encapsulates the fun, flirty ethos behind the brand.
Pure Obsession takes your usual op-shop fare: old business ties and shirts, pants, novelty tee-shirts, and up-cycles them into entirely new garments, poised for 21st-century business and pleasure. Everything is handmade by Kat, who took several pattern making classes before launching, in order to learn how to pattern grade for all sizes. Recycling and radical sizing are core issues celebrated by the brand, “since the beginning”.
“I didn’t want to release anything unless I could have a massive range of sizes, because I know that bodies are so different. I think everyone deserves to be able to buy whatever they want,” Kat said.
“Accessibility is just something I am always going to keep working on, and hopefully I’ll get to a point where it is truly accessible.”
Like many young creatives, Kat’s world is hosted on Instagram, the fickle platform that is the bane of all our existences.
Her self-described “moodboard, portfolio and gallery” holds everything she’s ever worked for, and is an entrancing experience. One day she hopes to style her personal icons, like Eartheater, Shygirl, and Caroline Polacheck.
“If that happened I would love to get like Balenciaga and some higher end brands, and then mix with op-shop items and local designers. Kinda like what I’m doing now, but just fuck it up.”
One thing is clear: No matter how big Rose Pure gets, Kat will stick true to her core.