Last week Pedestrian was invited to the shoot for Aje’s Spring Summer 2011 campaign to give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at one of Australia’s most promising labels. Existing since 2007, Aje is a collaboration between Edwina (Eddie) Robinson and siblings Adrian (Aje) and Bree Norris. Everyone but Bree was present on location. The setting (a dilapidated nine bedroom Milson’s Point mansion with peeling wallpaper and dusty chandeliers) was the perfect backdrop to Aje’s aesthetic, something the designers called “disheveled elegance”.
The word ethereal is so over-used it actually hurts a tiny bit, but we can’t think of a better way to describe the model, Olivia Thornton. Considering the label’s eye for ‘it girls’ (Bambi Northwood-Blyth starred in their AW10 campaign; Rachel Rutt in AW11), we heed Eddie’s words when she looks longingly at Olivia and says “I have a feeling she won’t be sticking around in Australia for long.”
In between exploring the five story house and trying not to stare at Olivia like a stalker, we had the chance to ask Eddie and Aje a couple of questions.
Who is behind Aje?
Aje: Eddie and I do the creative and design side of it and Bree does the business. She keeps us in check basically.
Can you tell us about you backgrounds in fashion?
Eddie: Oddly I studied journalism and then I worked at Russh magazine styling for about two and a half years and then I did a lot of freelance styling. Aje and I have been friends for ages and so it kind of came together.
Aje: I have a fine arts background and then studied a little bit of design for a while, but I didn’t finish any of my degrees. Then I got into retail and from there went back into design and met Eddie and it all happened.
How would you sum up the Aje aesthetic?
Eddie: Disheveled elegance. We always have tough elements with really feminine things. It’s Adrian and mine’s aesthetic mixed together that makes it work. If I did it by myself it would be quite tough but he brings a more feminine aesthetic.
Aje: Yeah, it’s weird, we’ve got the opposite aesthetic of what you’d think! I love the organics. I’m really obsessed with fabrics, that’s why I like to put lots of different fabrics together to create volume whereas Eddie likes to strip it back and make it tougher. It’s a weird combination but it works.
What inspired the collection being shot today?
Aje: There’s a lot of textures and certain tribal elements. This collection is inspired by the Skeleton Coast in Africa, a really desolate place where the desert actually meets the ocean. There’s all these old shipwrecks and dead whales and elephants walking on the beach. It’s really cool and uninhabited by humans. So that’s where we got the colour palette, those amazing sands and sunset pinks.
Eddie: Often we have this kind of wandering girl in our head when designing our collections. She’s eclectic and she wanders through deserts. She’s a bit odd, we like contradiction.
Aje: We reflect this in the fabrics. We fray them and hand bleach them so they look like they’ve been left in the sun. It ends up looking like a really wealthy woman has been shipwrecked.
What’s the concept behind the shoot?
Aje: The thoughts that we put into designing are often completely different to the thoughts put into the campaigns…
Eddie: Because the collection is so pretty, we wanted something dilapidated for it to fall against. We wanted that romantic kind of elegance. Olivia’s so tall and sensuous so it’s going to be beautiful.
Do you each have a favourite piece from the collection?
[Both point to the same piece, a pink sequined dress with a sweeping train]
Aje: But Eddie, that’s my favourite piece!
Eddie: We’re making everything in black as well, so this is my favourite piece, but in black.
Aje: I like the pink.
Currently in store is Aje’s AW11 collection, La Tribu Russe. You can check out their flagship store at 33 Bayswater Road, Potts Point. Check out some behind the scenes images from their next collection below…
Words and photos by Ingrid Kesa