It's one thing to see clothes hanging in a shop, or in lookbook pictures online but another thing entirely to see them on the women who have bought them. That's the concept of the two remaining posts in the series I've collaborated on with Jess of Aida Maeby - to show you a bit more of the clothes and to introduce you to some of the women who buy Aida Maeby. I hope you enjoy this first post as much as I enjoyed the ice creams, wines and fabulous chats that went into it!
Sarah works in the public sector – a big part of Wellington’s corporate world, and, it turns out, home of some seriously stylish and creative women. “It’s almost competitive – one woman will wear something amazing and you can see everyone else lifting their game”, explains Sarah, and it’s easy to see that Sarah would have no trouble impressing. The level of fashion has clearly shifted within the public sector even in the past ten years, with far fewer of the grey suited, grey faced cliché, and far more vibrancy and personal expression. Great news, since the public sector is an employer of a large proportion of professional women, many of whom I imagine might like to lash out a bit from the navy pinstripe suit and sensible court shoe combo.
With a natural love of style, she laughs as she describes her “Vintage Vednesday” initiative, where she aimed to wear something vintage every Wednesday (now that is a hash tag I could get behind!). Like many women I talk to, Sarah loves clothes and dressing up, but finds shopping difficult, both in bricks and mortar and online. This is the beauty of having a designer as a friend, since you get invited along to the pre-season launch and can shop amongst friends with a helpful glass of wine in hand!
Sarah explained that this dress isn’t something she’d usually go for, due to the colour combo, but once she touched it she had to try it on. The fabric not only glows in the light, but it’s tactile and pleasurable to wear. Because she’s tall, the column of this dress suits her perfectly, creating a long, powerful line from her shoulder, and the splits in the side create both easy movement and a fun swishy effect when in movement (and you know how I love a power swish!). I can absolutely imagine Sarah striding down the hallway to a meeting, with this swirling behind her, gleaming in even the fluorescent lighting.
However, she also ruefully confesses to the occasional wardrobe malfunction. The old “skirt that rides up when you walk/top that slides open if unpinned” conundrum is one that is all too familiar to me, and it’s why Sarah loves the Aida Maeby designs – eye-catching, but easy to wear.
Sarah wears the Anahera Overdress in Navy/Moss; also available in Kawakawa.
Matariki is a busy lady, with a fabulous job at Te Papa as a Curator Matauranga Maori. Her work involves a huge variety of projects including acquiring taonga for the national collection, developing exhibitions, researching and writing content for the website, and strengthening networks of people throughout the sector. This last point is part of the aim behind the website she co-founded with Nina Finigan, Tusk – Emergent Culture. Tusk is a platform for the voices of people at the beginning of their career in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) sector. Now, this is a woman who can understand and enjoy beautifully made things!
Matariki and Jess are kindred creative spirits, and the story of them sidling up to each other like sweet children to compliment each other’s style (“She rightly guessed I was wearing Lady Danger lipstick at my first visit to kindy!” says Matariki, and we agree this the greatest lipstick ever produced for its power to bring women together) and to talk about what crafts they were working on, was probably one of the cutest things I’ve heard in a long time. Unsurprisingly, Jess could recall Matariki’s outfit in detail.
The love of Aida Maeby runs in Matariki’s family, with a strategic pre-wedding discussion required to make sure that Matariki and her sister didn’t show up in the same dress (Matariki notes she graciously allowed her sister to wear the coveted Olafur dress, while Matariki wore another Aida Maeby option, the equally beautiful La Perla. Free advice on appropriate footwear was provided by Matariki’s wee girl, making this outfit a true family affair). Over a gelato by the lagoon Matariki, like the others, credits Jess’s quality workmanship and beautiful fabric choices for her interest in Aida Maeby, as well as her conscious approach to design. She’s also a fan of the Aida Maeby previews, which are starting to sound to me like the hottest ticket in town!
With an incredibly busy life, featuring what sounds like All the Irons in a Very Large Fire, Matariki is clear that she doesn’t want to spend her time on a bad retail experience. We share a few tales about the good and the not so good experiences we’ve had in Wellington, and the increasing desire to buy something great, buy it once, and know that it’s come from a good place. Rather than consuming fashion willy-nilly, Matariki is attracted to Aida Maeby because she knows Jess is making careful choices with the entire process. Fashion can get a bad rap for being superficial, but since part of her job is to acquire NZ fashion for the museum (can we please just say Dream Job), Matariki understands the true longevity of fashion.
This dress, cut comfortably but with detail after detail (pockets, wrap front, the drawstring waist with exposed pieces at the sides, and a gathered sleeve) is a great option for a woman who wants something high quality, reliable, easy to pop on and yet cool and visually interesting. It was a warm, beautiful Wellington evening when Matariki and I met, yet it was already easy for her to visualise how she’d wear this dress in its intended wintery form. It seems like lots of women like to mix up their Aida Maeby pieces. Matariki recounts a story of buying a pair of gorgeous, designer silk trousers on TradeMe, with the original tags still attached, for a huge huge discount to the original price – and was, as I am, frankly incredulous that someone would spend much on something they don’t wear. No chance of that with her pieces from Aida Maeby, which are clearly going to be much-loved and much-worn (and possibly “borrowed” by her daughter) for years to come.
Matariki wears the Mahi Dress in Ink; also available in Stone.