Phoebe Philo’s much-imitated sleek Celine minimalism? Bubbled out of Philo’s own need for sophisticated separates. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s super-luxe The Row? The whole brand can be traced back to the Olsen Twins’ insatiable desire for the perfect plain white tee.
New Zealand it-label Georgia Alice has a similar creation myth. Launched in 2012 by 28-year-old Georgia Currie (the Alice is her middle name), the brand was initially conceived to stock the designer’s own closet with style basics she desperately wanted: a little black pencil skirt, a white silk shirt, an oversized blazer.
“The biggest influence when I’m designing is not really a theme, but more what I feel the Georgia Alice girl needs, or what I feel like I really want,” the designer muses. “At the end of the day, I just wanna create pieces that I really love.”
It’s proven to be a winning formula. In just six short years the brand has leapt from under-the-radar Antipodean range to global power player: stocked in Myer and online at Net-A-Porter, mentored by none-other than New Zealand superdesigner Karen Walker herself, and spotted in the Instagrams of Margaret Zhang, Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
The rise has been so stratospheric, that even the designer herself can hardly believe it. “Every time I do a little interview it makes me acknowledge that, shit, I am doing that, or yeah, that is really awesome,” Currie laughs. “It’s beyond anything I could ever have imagined.”
It’s not difficult to see the appeal of the label, with its zeitgeisty oversized cuts and playful aesthetic. (Currie describes her perfect outfit as a profiterole-puffball satin skirt paired back with a grey marle tee shirt). The brand is an exercise in contrasts: boyish separates (tee shirts, sweatpants and big jumpers) mixed with hints of sleek feminity, like the brand’s cult favourite off-the-shoulder ruffle top, or a fitted dress with a slinky thigh-high split. “My new motto is always wear something fancy with something that isn’t,” Currie says with a smile.
And speaking of that off-the-shoulder top, the one seen in thousands of magazine editorials and in street style naps the world over… For those who missed out the first time – “They sold out instantly online, I think I recut them four or five times.”
Also making a return is the brand’s coveted cropped flare, another Currie necessity (“I’m quite short! So I decided I’ll just do a cropped flare so that I can wear them.”), as well as pieces from the designer’s latest range, inspired by “when you hop off a plane in an exotic place and the heat really hits you… I wanted to capture that feeling”. Expect trumpet-flared midi skirts, roomy tee shirts and crisp white shirts with ballooning bell sleeves.
What started as a one-woman business in a tiny studio in Auckland is growing exponentially every season. Alongside a brand new warehouse space in prime Auckland real estate (“If I push my face up against the glass I can actually see the ocean”), Currie has also picked up a business mentor in fellow Kiwi Karen Walker. The two met at an event late last year and got to talking all things design.
Now, Walker gives Currie advice on the industry, something that the 28-year-old is still coming to terms with. “She told me: ‘Keep it small and trust my gut’,” Currie says.
“I want to keep things really concise and love every piece in every collection. She said: ‘Trust your gut’. Which is exactly what I needed to hear at that point. You direct how you want your business to run… I’m just flying blind, and now I have someone who is guiding me a little bit. I’m really lucky.”