In the lead-up to their ten-year anniversary, Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest of Aje, contemplated the significance of this passage of time.
For them, the ten years were not about the rollercoaster moments, their fourteen stand-alone stores or thriving wholesale business but rather, it signified ten years of tireless hard work, relentless passion, and more importantly, unwavering teamwork.
As a brand dedicated to artisan techniques – hand beading, hand embroidery and hand-loomed fabrications being integral to each collection – the duo fittingly looked to mark this milestone moment through an artistic collaboration with their favourite Australian artist.
At ten years, a long-held dream came true.
For their Resort 18/19 collection, Norris and Forest had the pleasure of working within the archives of one of Australia's most prolific artists, Brett Whiteley – a man who dedicated his life to his craft leaving behind a legacy of iconic and indescribably beautiful paintings, collages, and sculptures.
Like Aje, Whiteley had a very unique handwriting and unconventional voice. He used his art to articulate many things – emotions, sensuality, conformity, liberation, political and social views, and life philosophies – but it was his wife Wendy, who was his constant source of inspiration, being his figurative muse, his lover and his co-curator.
It was this connection, this unique sense of teamwork, that the duo used to underpin their collection. Accordingly, they drew inspiration not only from the artworks – five works were carefully chosen from different series – but from the formidable force of Wendy Whiteley. Her unique personal style informed many of the silhouettes within the collection and served to strengthen the correlation between the art and fashion.
Throughout the collaborative process, Norris and Forest worked tirelessly with Wendy Whiteley and Brett Whiteley Studio, the custodians of Brett's archive, to ensure the integrity of the artworks would be preserved during the transformation into wearable form. The scale of the artworks remain true and the intricacy of the colour palette has been precisely matched through numerous visits to cross check the prints against the original works. Careful consideration has been given to seam crossings and silhouette concept so as not to interfere with the original form.
Therefore, it can be said, at tens years of age, that their anniversary collection is a celebration of love, of pain, of passion, and ultimately, of teamwork.
It is a personification of Brett Whiteley's artistic talent, and of his ever-present inspiration – his love, his muse, his woman – Wendy Whiteley.