Expert Insights: Anouki Areshidze
Owner and Founder of ANOUKI
Anouki Areshidze, is the founder and creative director of ANOUKI. After studying fashion styling at Istituto Marangoni, Anouki decided that it was time to concretely realize her ideas about designing clothes, and got back to her native country, Georgia, where she launched her brand. Through her brand, named after her to state how unique and very personal this project is to her, Anouki shares her vision of the feminine look full of extraordinary, unexpected details and pairings.
During past few years, Anouki became an international style icon and influencer: in 2016, Anouki was named Number 1 It-Girl from Georgia by American Vogue. She is one of the most recognizable worldwide street-style stars, featured in major international publications: various editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, NY Times.
Where does your passion for fashion design come from?
It may surprise you, but unlike the majority of girls, I did not really play with dolls and their outfits when I was a child. It was only later, during my teenage years that I slowly became more and more interested in combining unusual garments and creating very personal looks: at that time I realized that I wanted to design clothes not only for myself but also for other women, to share my vision about styling and valorize any women’s figure.
When you took the decision to study fashion, why did you choose Milan and Istituto Marangoni?
Milan is like home to me, second only to my hometown, Tbilisi. I lived in Milan with my family for 5 years, therefore some of the most important personal memories and connections are related to this city. Even before moving to Milan I had heard about Istituto Marangoni and I was happy I could study in one of the leading fashion universities in the world. I had always thought Istituto Marangoni would have been the best place for my studies so my choice was really easy to take: Istituto Marangoni was the first and only option I considered.
How important have been the studies at Istituto Marangoni for you? What advice would you give to young fashion design students?
The whole study path was really exciting for me. We had hours of classes and then, once at home, we had to spend nights doing home-works and completing assignments: I also had a child and it was really challenging to keep pace with the school rhythm. Now I can confirm that learning technical notions and practical techniques and combining them with the free creative process, as Istituto Marangoni really taught me, helped me not only to find the ways of expressing my ideas and fashion hallmark, but also to manage the realization of a collection from research and inspiration till garments realization.
What does it mean to you to be an Istituto Marangoni Ambassador?
It’s an honor for me to become internationally recognized as Istituto Marangoni official delegate and to represent my former school values. Considering the importance of Istituto Marangoni towards my career growth, being appointed as I’M Alumni Ambassador is really important and reputable for me.
Mother of 3, successful fashion designer and First Lady. How do you balance all these “sides” of your life?
You can probably imagine that it is not easy to manage all the aspects of my life, we all have only 24 hours per day! Nevertheless, during the years, I learnt how to find the right balance so as to give the right attention and energies to all of them.
Where do you find inspiration from for your collections and is there any particular character that drives your creativity?
It may sound commonplace, but travelling around the world (especially Italy, since I spend quite a time in Italy during the year, during and off the fashion weeks) inspires me the most. I would rank Italy as first, both because of its richness in culture, history and nature, and due to the fact that I spend here quite a lot of time during the year (during fashion weeks and for holidays). I love to sit in a café and simply look around, explore beautiful architectures, observe people who walk around and discover their way of dressing, get captured by a small detail that can be source of inspiration for an entire collection. As my brand ANOUKI is all about femininity and the ways to exalt it, characters that inspire me are for sure women who have or had an interesting style.
At the age of 23 you founded your fashion brand ANOUKI, and you did it in Georgia. Why did you choose to go back to your home country?
I moved back to Georgia for family reasons. It was hard to leave Italy, but going back to Tbilisi, really felt like a new beginning for me and moreover, I finally had the chance and time to concretize all the ideas and plans I had in my mind when I was in Milan. We opened first ANOUKI store in Tbilisi and set up the atelier which is actually my second home. Besides, it is very important for me to promote my country in my way: while ANOUKI label says MADE IN GEORGIA, the brand is known worldwide and is growing internationally; this makes me proud. In 2016, we opened our second store, in Batumi, on the seaside of Black Sea, and we have plans for further development, particularly abroad.
In 2015 you launched the collection Miss Anouki, initially available only for the Georgian market. What led you to make this challenging decision and how did the brand evolve?
When we launched our first ANOUKI collection in Tbilisi, in 2013, imported top-quality fabrics and impeccable tailoring positioned the collection at luxury level and high-end price range. Many Georgian girls and women wanted to wear ANOUKI, but could not afford most of the pieces, so we decided to introduce a second line, MISS ANOUKI. We worked a lot to find new suppliers who could provide materials at cheaper prices, always keeping the quality of the main ANOUKI line, and scouted for efficient partner companies that could manage faster distribution. The success of the second line was immediate: from day one, MISS ANOUKI won over customers, and the continuous sales growth represents the confirmation from the market.
You are very active on social media: what are their role in the world of fashion and how do you use them?
Social media are a crucial part of both my life and my business, especially Instagram.
I created my Instagram profile at the very debut of the platform: from the very beginning, my page drew people’s attention, feedback from followers, their engagement and responses were always positive. They were interested in discovering my lifestyle, receiving my advice in terms of fashion choices and styling and I understood that Instagram could help me spread my views, ideas and interests to a larger audience. After launching ANOUKI, it was actually my Instagram profile that helped me sharing all the information and news about the brand. Since I am the sole designer of my brand, it feels very authentic for me to share anything happening around ANOUKI and my followers are always very responsive.
What do you think about fashion competitions? Would you suggest young fashion students to take part in them? Why?
When you are an up-and-coming talent, you should try all the possible ways to showcase your creativity and share your fashion ideas with different audiences. I definitely recommend everyone to apply for competitions, to take the risk and challenge oneself.
In 2016 I was selected by Vogue Italy and YOOX together with other 9 emerging designers to showcase my collection at “The Next Talent” in Milan. This unique opportunity gave me the chance to actually enter the fashion world and meet its people, network with professionals, take their advice, note their opinions and also share my views with them. I will never forget the when Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani visited my corner at “The Next Talent”, talked to me and actually reviewed my collection: these are the moments that bring the excitement and motivation to do more!