The Fancy Sessions: 3

The Fancy Sessions: 3

Sasha Tilly 

Sasha laughing in the midst of green foliage in a purple stripey top and glasses.


Job Title: Festival Director for New Zealand Fringe Festival (in Wellington)

Pronouns: She/Her

Sasha wears the Sherbert Sparkle Bodysuit by Kindling, the Erin Skirt in Neon Coral by Tuesday, and the Mirer Reverie Earrings in Gold by Republic Road. 

Kia ora Sasha! The NZ Fringe, of which you are the Director is fast upon us! How are you feeling about it?  

Short answer, excited! 

Long answer is truly lucky. We're lucky to live here in NZ, to have strong leadership in this crazy world, and to have the freedoms that we do to move around, to gather together and experience art together. We’re so lucky that so many amazing artists have chosen to share their work with us, it’s truly humbling! This is our biggest Fringe ever, as well as our most Wellington Fringe ever, there’s over 160 events and at least 130 of those are from the Wellington region! I love that I get to play a part by facilitating sharing all of the incredible mahi of our artists with the city.

It’s been an unsettling year for the arts, how have you maintained self care and calm throughout? 

There’s a few key things -  first is that I started following almost exclusively fat fashion babes on Instagram, seeing bodies like mine celebrated in fashion has made a massive difference to how I view myself.

I also started making resin earrings during the lockdown, not for any particular reason other than I wanted more excuses to play with glitter as an adult, but people seem to quite like the result which is cool.

My third thing is treats and trinkets, I periodically will just get myself something small like a new glasses chain or an edible treat, I find it quite difficult to walk away from a caramel slice to be honest. But also I very much enjoy things like long baths, or a walk in nature, treats I can give myself for free. Finally, I feel so privileged that I’ve had a solid job through all this.

Something that has kept my mind at peace, has been donating to arts organisations who’ve been struggling over the last year.  Knowing that I’ve contributed in a small way to helping them stay afloat, and knowing that colleagues and friends will still have some income going forward is really grounding for me.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at the Fringe? 

You’re really going to ask me to narrow it down?! Ooh gosh, okay here are some of my hot picks.

Celestial Nobodies at BATS Theatre for sure. I’ve been following the work of Potentially Playing Productions for a while and I’m excited about this new offering!

Potluck at FatG, I’m a sucker for events that include all your senses and I’ve heard that this one is a veritable feast (literally.) Also The Drawing Marathon at Wellington Drawing School, for me these folks exemplify the kaupapa of Fringe as a festival for anyone and everyone, and from a personal level as well, I’m quite bad at drawing so I’m suuuuuper excited about the opportunity to join a community and work on my skills in with like minded people in a safe space.

What do you find inspiring about living in Wellington? 

I reckon Wellington is the Pascall’s Party Pack of the country, don’t you think? It’s all the best bits together in one city.  I LOVE Wellington, I’m a Wellingtonian through and through, born and bred. I will defend the honour of Wellington as the best city in the world to the end of time. All those “Wellington is dead” articles that were going around recently were clearly written by people who haven’t spent any decent time here. I mean sure, there’s the wind, and the rusting water pipes, and the occasional threat of sewage in the harbour. But it’s my personal opinion those things just weed out the weak, and those of us brave enough to stick around are the cream of the crop. Honestly, you don’t need to travel far to be at a pretty remote beach, or surrounded entirely by nature, but at the same time Wellington has some of the best food, most delicious beers and most incredible live performance in the world. I truly believe that. 

How would you describe your personal style, and who are your influences? 

I don’t know if I would be able to pin it down, it changes daily based on my mood, but also the weather! It’s very important to me to be appropriately dressed for whatever weather we’re experiencing that day, and I always, always have extra layers! It’s why I can’t be one of those girls who carries around a tiny purse; I need a massive bag to hold all my spare jumpers. I have this image in my head that I’m chic and classic in my style. In reality though, I’ve been described many times as eclectic haha, so, that I guess? 

It’s such a cliche, but my mum and my grandmother are my biggest influences for sure. My grandmother was a seamstress who made wedding dresses, and also had a boutique called Dressing Up With Margot. She was a woman who’s relationship with jewellery particularly, but fashion in general too, would definitely be described as the bigger the better, so I learned at a young age to not be afraid of taking risks with what I wear (to varying levels of success!) And my mum is one of the most stylish women I know. Lucky for me we have the same sized feet and we are similar sizes in clothing too so there is a lot of wardrobe swapping that goes on. And by that I mean, I steal things from her wardrobe and “forget” to return them.

What has been your biggest revelation/lesson of the last year? 

My current favourite quote is “Surround yourself with women who would mention your name in a room full of opportunities.” I’ve always had close friends from all the genders, but over the course of the past year I’ve come to rely much more heavily on my gal pals. Growing up I was one of those girls who constantly said “other girls are just so bitchy, I get on much better with guys there’s way less drama, y’know” (I know, I’m sorry, it’s my secret shame) I’ve definitely changed my tune now though! I am very lucky to have the kinds of women in my life who raise me up, a-la Josh Groban, and (I hope) I do the same for them. Supportive female friendships for life!

Where are your favourite spots on Cuba Street?

MFP, but that’s a given.

Oh stop it! 

It's true! Also, Rams for their chilli oil dumplings, The Makers (technically Abel Smith St but basically still Cuba) for locally made and absolutely unique jewellery, Ivy Bar & Cabaret for year round live events and dancing, Qilin Tea House for some of the loveliest staff and the best smoothies.

You can find everything on at The New Zealand Fringe Festival here. 

Photography by Sarah McEvoy 

Ice cream from Duck Island, Cuba Street 

Sasha sits on the tuatara in the cuba street playground. The image is very sunny and colourful.
Sasha stands, smiling on Cuba Street, with the road stretching out behind her. Sasha stands against a ochre wall with a vine growing up it. She has one arm reaching to the sky, and looks fabulous.

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