aaizél’s french connection: the melbourne brand that found its heart in paris

Designer Minnie Jo on why local designers will always be drawn overseas.

by Jamie-Maree Shipton
31 October 2016, 2:45am

When we speak to Minnie Jo, the designer behind Melbourne label Aaizél, she's in Paris preparing for the launch of her new collection. Although she's based in Australia and runs all her production from here, it's clear the French capital's romance isn't lost on her. While Aaizél is technically an Australian brand, its heart beats for Paris. In many ways it's typical of many ambitious local labels, feet in Melbourne and eyes on the horizon.

Where Aaizél is unique is that the romance is hardly one-sided. Since launching in 2013, Minnie has found the bulk of her client base in Europe. This was central to her decision to come here now, to launch a collection so far from home. But the choice was about more than croissant-crusted daydreams, she's realistic about what it means to be a small brand in a foreign country. But she welcomes the challenge, and sees it as an opportunity to test herself against the city's intense, and arguably intimidating pedigree. The stakes may be high, but something tells us she's going to be just fine.

Hey Minnie, you're in Paris at the moment, paint us a picture.
Paris in general is so laid back and dreamy. Fashion Week on the other hand is exactly what you'd expect, fashion chaos at its absolute best, which is my favourite time of the year to be in the city. Everyone is buzzing and I love it.

Why did you want to debut your latest collection there?
I needed a bigger challenge. I wanted a broader audience, tougher critics to constantly be reminded of the hunger in the industry which pushes me to become better, to make Aaizél stronger and more defined. And, even though I have always designed and shown locally in Melbourne, where I am originally from, it just so happens my biggest overseas market to date is Paris.

Beyond the setting for its debut, how does this collection feel different?
My past capsule collections were really about testing the audience, finding the right niche and more of a preparation step to get to the full collection. I guess it was my own research process, I don't believe in the traditional way of presenting a full season collection from the get go; as an independent designer that's not realistic at all. Designing is all about the journey and growth, and I guess you can say this is my first real step into the fashion world. 

Tell us more about your seasonless approach.
For me it's a bit of a natural factor, something I often have to consider as a Melbournian where we have four seasons in a day. I also feel like there will be a high demand in the market, considering that consumers have been adapting to the genderless, androgynous, versatile and easy-wear philosophies. Seasonless style is going to become a big component of retail, it's really the way forward.

I'm sure it's also a practical consideration when designing for different hemispheres.
As an Australian label, it can be more difficult to resonate with a global customer base due to the southern hemisphere being reverse season. I think catering to both hemispheres and making the dressing quite seasonless is logical and practical.

Beyond the practical, how is designing in and for Europeans different?
Europe I find quite different depending on where you are, for example Milan is obviously a lot more glam, colourful and coquettish at times. Whereas Paris is very classic, quite minimal, more demure. Australia is definitely a lot more laid back and safe in terms of style, more opted for everyday life I guess. I tend to dress how I feel, sometimes that's influenced by my surroundings or just by my mood. I feel everyone should be able to dress how they want, when they want, where they want no matter what city they live in.



Text Jamie-Maree Shipton
Photography Tre + Elmaz
Hair and make up Emily Moran
Assistant Melissa Putland
Model Lili Steele @ unseen 

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