EXCLUSIVE: Aje's Founders on Their Artisanal Return To Australian Fashion Week
“Resort 23 is an ode to the eternal relationship between human, landscape and art.”
Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris founded Aje as a result of their mutual appreciation for design. Since the brand was first founded in 2008, it has become synonymous with natural elements and strives to celebrate the beauty found in everyday surroundings.
The label recently returned to Australian Fashion Week to showcase its newest Resort 23 collection, ‘Sculptura’ at The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. “This season, we were particularly drawn to the artistic philosophies of emerging sculptors; specifically, how they interpret the world around them using the earth as their canvas,” Forest tells Hypebae.
Read on to find out more about our conversation with Forest and Norris and the inspiration behind the new collection.
Tell us a bit about how things got started, how did the Aje brand come about?
Edwina Both Adrian and I are bound by a mutual appreciation of design and the arts. When we first met, we saw an opportunity to create a brand that bridged the gap between contrasting coastal and urban style that paired traditional artisanal craftsmanship with timeless, luxurious design, rooted in an inherent understanding of this duality. We are forever inspired by our surroundings and believe that there is so much to be gained through experience and immersing oneself in culture and the arts. Our love of our surroundings extends from the natural landscape to interiors, to the creative and fine arts – all influencing our choice of color, fabrication and silhouette.
How does it feel to be back at Australian Fashion Week?
Edwina As we expand our reach beyond local shores, it is Aje’s Australian roots and our intrinsic connection to Australian landscapes that make us distinct on an international stage. Showing at AAFW celebrates our innate connection to Australia, while providing a platform for Aje to amplify our Resort collection internationally.
Adrian Opening fashion week in 2019 was a significant milestone for us as a fashion house. With the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House as our backdrop, the show was an opportunity to begin setting the stage for international expansion while inspiring Australian customers at the heart of our brand.
Typically, nature has been used as a backdrop for Aje. How did you make the decision to bring the show indoors for this season?
Edwina Aje has been grounded by an appreciation for the arts since our inception. With ‘Sculptura,’ inspired by artists including Maya Lin, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Malene Knudsen, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia was an instinctive decision. The space also provided us the opportunity – alongside creative collaborator Studio Boum – to transform it into an intimate, sculptural cave-like space using soft tonal textures; giving reverence to both art and earth, in juxtaposition with the collection.
What was it like to partner with Studio Bourn for the Creative Design house?
Edwina The goal of the show was to immerse our guests in a true Aje sensory experience. Helping us bring the collection to life, we partnered with leading London-based, international creative agency, Studio Boum who are celebrated for conceptualizing and realizing experiences designed to connect people through contemporary narratives. For our runway they helped us create an intimate, sculptural cave-like space using soft tonal textures; cocooning guests in both art and earth, from which the collection will juxtapose.
What can you tell us about the Resort 23 collection? What were the inspirations behind the concept?
Edwina At its core, Resort 23 is an ode to the eternal relationship between human, landscape and art. This season, we were particularly drawn to the artistic philosophies of emerging sculptors; specifically, how they interpret the world around them using the earth as their canvas. A number of artists have informed the collection, but we were especially captivated by the vibrant hues found in the vast landscape art installations of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Maya Lin’s ‘Storm King Wavefield,’ Malene Knudsen’s sinuous, unglazed stoneware and the bold, botanical motifs present in the collaborative works of Simone Bodmer-Turner and Emma Kohlmann.
Bold colors appear to take center stage for RE23, what can you tell us about the decisions behind the color palette?
Edwina The vivid color palette was really a natural continuation of our core inspiration, especially the bursting fuchsia, chartreuse and the shades present in the bold botanical prints. Many of the sculptors whose work informed the collection also used color as means to heighten the sense of space evoked by their creations, which is a principle we very much leaned into when designing those statement pieces. Organically speaking, summer also lends to itself to working with more vibrant colors, and the Aje Woman — who is always at the forefront of our minds and isn’t afraid to revel in a bolder palette.
Finally, what are your future plans for the brand?
Adrian For the last two years we’ve had the unique opportunity to expand our growth in Australia and New Zealand while servicing 75 countries internationally through wholesale and e-commerce. Our show collaborations with international stylists and creative collaborators Ashlee Barrett-Bourmier and Studio Boum, alongside music by Dan Lywood, are organic continuations of our focus on global. This year, with our return to Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, we continue on this trajectory by inspiring customers at home and abroad.