GE­OR­GIA ON MY MIND

Suc­cess has al­ways come at a cost for fash­ion de­signer Ge­or­gia Cur­rie, but, as Phoebe Watt finds, she’s fac­ing the fu­ture with fresh per­spec­tive – and it’s never looked bet­ter

Fashion Quarterly - - Inside -

De­signer Ge­or­gia Alice Cur­rie on her new way of think­ing

There’s some­thing dif­fer­ent about Ge­or­gia Cur­rie when we sit down to lunch at a busy, cen­tral-Auck­land restau­rant. Out­wardly, she’s the same – ef­fort­lessly-un­done ensem­ble, sig­na­ture messy hair – but the usu­ally har­ried fash­ion de­signer is calm in a way I’ve never known her to be. “I’ll tell you why,” she says over a mid­day rosé. “I went and saw this en­ergy healer and it’s com­pletely changed my life. She taught me this say­ing, ‘tide comes in, tide goes out.’ So if I feel my­self get­ting af­fected by some­thing, I just let it wash over me and trust the uni­verse to take care of it.”

So far, the uni­verse has been pretty good to the 26-year-old. Soon af­ter es­tab­lish­ing her lux­ury wom­enswear label, Ge­or­gia Alice, in 2012, she caught the at­ten­tion of A-list fash­ion blog­ger and Man Re­peller author, Le­an­dra Me­dine. Since then, her di­rec­tional de­signs have con­tin­ued to re­ceive high praise from fash­ion crit­ics and earn her le­gions of fa­mous fans – in­clud­ing Solange Knowles, who wore a dusky-pink, silk-blend Ge­or­gia Alice dress dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week last Septem­ber.

Two months later, Ge­or­gia was named Emerg­ing De­signer of the Year at the Elle Aus­tralia Style Awards, and in May, she showed her re­sort 2016 col­lec­tion at Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week Aus­tralia, where her brand was picked up by top-tier, multi-brand stores Net-a-Porter, Lane Craw­ford and Club 21.

The week be­fore our in­ter­view, the de­signer hosted a din­ner for Marie Claire magazine in Syd­ney. “While I was there, I went and looked at a few stu­dios and I was like wait, am I mov­ing to Syd­ney? Is this hap­pen­ing?”

Ap­par­ently, not quite. Despite Ge­or­gia’s es­ti­ma­tion that “90 per­cent of [her] busi­ness is off­shore”, the lo­gis­tics of mov­ing her

com­pany across the ditch are too pro­hib­i­tive for now. But armed with her new, go-with-the-flow at­ti­tude, she’s pre­par­ing to start split­ting her time be­tween Syd­ney and Auck­land. “I re­alised it can be this fluid thing. I don’t have to make that firm de­ci­sion, I don’t have to live ex­clu­sively in Aus­tralia or New Zealand. I can di­rect my own life… I mean, that’s why I started Ge­or­gia Alice in the first place.”

The brand ac­tu­ally came about fairly flip­pantly. Fresh out of fash­ion school in Christchurch and des­per­ate for a change of scenery, Ge­or­gia re­lo­cated to Auck­land with her then-boyfriend of three years. “One day he said, ‘why don’t you start a brand?’ And I was like, ‘okay, fine!’” From that point on, she gave it every­thing. “I worked so hard, it ac­tu­ally makes me feel nau­seous,” she says, re­call­ing the first four years of the brand’s ex­is­tence, dur­ing which time she was, for the most part, a one-woman op­er­a­tion. “It was hec­tic and hor­ri­ble and I was not healthy. Fi­nally, this year, I de­cided to in­vest in some staff to help me. That was the best de­ci­sion I ever made.”

With­out a doubt, bring­ing more peo­ple on board saved his­tory re­peat­ing for Ge­or­gia. A decade ear­lier, at only 15 years old, she moved from Christchurch to Syd­ney to study clas­si­cal bal­let. A year later she’d com­pletely burnt out. “I was spend­ing ev­ery sin­gle day danc­ing and it got to a point where I was in­jured and sick and I’d lost the joy for it, which was dev­as­tat­ing. It was all I’d cared about for 10 years so it was like I’d lost my dream.”

Not that she has any re­grets – she at­tributes her dis­ci­pline, drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion to her bal­let train­ing. But it’s clear the ex­pe­ri­ence has in­formed her de­ci­sion to keep her busi­ness based in New Zealand. “Oh if I were to move Ge­or­gia Alice to Syd­ney it would be ex­actly the same,” she says. “It would be all fash­ion, all the time, and the scene over there… there’s a the­atri­cal as­pect to it. You have to be ‘on’ con­stantly. I love that when I come home, I can just be nor­mal.”

That Ge­or­gia can fly un­der the radar in New Zealand speaks to what she calls her “tricky” re­la­tion­ship with the lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try. A born strate­gist, she de­lib­er­ately sought out the lu­cra­tive Aus­tralian mar­ket from day one, a move that, despite pay­ing div­i­dends for the de­signer, has ruf­fled a few feath­ers here. She’s in­sis­tent that it was noth­ing per­sonal, though. “How do I say this…” she be­gins. “Per­haps peo­ple feel I think I’m too good for New Zealand, but that’s not the case at all. Aus­tralia, be­cause it’s so much larger and there’s so much more go­ing on, draws me over a lot. But I’ll ap­pre­ci­ate and love New Zealand al­ways and for­ever, it’s my favourite place in the whole world.”

In a spa­cious work­room in Auck­land’s Eden Ter­race, Ge­or­gia and her team are work­ing on pro­duc­tion for the brand’s re­sort 2016 col­lec­tion, in­spired by the work of Swiss artist, Mai-Thu Per­ret. “She has this on­go­ing project called The Crys­tal Fron­tier, about a group of women who founded a com­mune in the New Mex­ico desert,” says Ge­or­gia. “I think of the Ge­or­gia Alice girl as be­ing on a sim­i­lar jour­ney to find in­de­pen­dence and strength.”

Fiercely in­de­pen­dent and a whole lot stronger than she looks, Ge­or­gia is noth­ing if not a walk­ing bill­board for the brand. As our lunch draws to a close, the con­ver­sa­tion turns to mak­ing things hap­pen. “Any­one can do any­thing they want, I truly be­lieve that,” she says. “I’m a girl from Christchurch and I have a brand that’s on Net-a-Porter!”

You can’t ar­gue with that. In fact, you can’t ar­gue with Ge­or­gia, pe­riod. “The way I run my busi­ness is that ‘no’ isn’t an an­swer, it’s a chal­lenge,” she says. “I get plea­sure out of peo­ple say­ing ‘no’ to me, be­cause I can prove to them that their ‘no’ means ‘yes’.” By this point, af­fir­ma­tions are com­ing thick and fast. “Fail­ure is not even a thing for me. I’m never go­ing to fail in life, be­cause I seek suc­cess.” I’m start­ing to think of Ge­or­gia as a spirit guide for any woman in her mid-twen­ties try­ing to make some­thing of her­self. It’s no won­der her brand is so wildly pop­u­lar among this de­mo­graphic – you want what she has, and wear­ing what she wears is one way of get­ting there.

To­day though, I’m in­ter­ested in the other. I in­ter­rupt – “who is your en­ergy healer?”

“I’ll text you her num­ber,” she says.

Ge­or­gia Alice de­signer, Ge­or­gia Cur­rie, walks the walk of her di­rec­tional wom­enswear

brand.

@geor­giaalice­of­fi­cial | geor­giaal­ice.com

In­spi­ra­tion sur­rounds

Ge­or­gia Cur­rie in her

Auck­land work­room.

Left and be­low: Looks

from the de­signer’s re­sort 2016

col­lec­tion.

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