Tell me what’s the story behind Aera is and what represents?
[ æra ] is something I want to live outside of myself. It started as a personal creative escape for me. I sort of created this church for myself that I could always look to if I ever felt lost or needed direction. It wasn’t long before it took hold of my life and became a religion to me.
The name “æ” represents ash and ember – the cycle of death and rebirth. It’s a reminder of the cyclical nature of things.
My goal for the name of my label is actually for it to be silent. I’ve adopted this idea into the physical labels recently. Instead of a brand name, I began to use symbols that embody the theme of the specific piece or collection.
I think I’ve become a bit infatuated with the idea of being hard to find. It’s sort of like the feeling of falling in love with a song that no one has ever heard before. You want to share it with everyone but at the same time you want to keep it all for yourself. I love that feeling.
When did the fashion bug bite you? What drives you as a designer and why?
I know exactly where and when this happened. One of my earliest memories was exploring the basement of my aunt’s house. My aunt was a mystic and fortune teller. She also used to be a seamstress so she had all these machines and tools I had never seen before packed away down there. I remember seeing a dressform for the first time peeking out all covered in cobwebs. It looked like this strange headless person in the darkness with misshapen arms and that image stuck with me forever. I think it was the fact that it scared me so much that I was drawn to it and wanted to know everything about it.
I often think about why I became so interested in fashion because I never pursued it at any point in my life prior nor was I ever educated in anything to do with fashion. It was always this faraway concept to me. Fashion was something that happened on TV and was worlds away for people like me.
What drives me is the feeling I get from losing myself in the process. There’s a certain magic that exists no place else when you’re cutting things apart and sewing them together. It’s a story that no one will ever really know about until it’s finished.
People only ever see the end result of the story. With fashion anyone can continue these stories by wearing them. These pieces can become something completely new and personal to someone you’ve never met. Someone wearing a piece of that story can live in the memory of another person just because they might’ve passed them on the street in a red dress nobody has seen before. Maybe in a few years that dress will end up in a shop somewhere far away and take on another life with someone new.
Black and red are detectable colours in your collections? What is your statement behind this edgy aesthetical choice and why?
I think I’m a bit obsessive. I won’t move forward until I know that the next step I take is a step forward. I’ve made a rule for myself that I am not allowed to design anything in any other color until I can’t think in any other color beyond red – or until I feel like I’ve given that color justice.
I’ve always thought of colors as feelings. I’ve only recently decided to start working with red because I was at a point in my life where it was either give up or push on and see what happens. This was a really dark chapter in my life. I was in a really bad car accident. It seemed as if everything bad that could happen to someone started to happen to me, so I took all these feelings and started to transmute them into something positive.
I don’t really follow any schedule with my collections, I want to make things that last forever. For my second collection: “Memento Mori” all I could think about was being bold and loud. Blood, love, fury, passion and pain. I wanted to give everything to this collection as if it would be the last one I ever did. I started painting my apartment red so that was all I could think of. I thought if I couldn’t make something in red that would make someone look powerful then I should probably choose to do something else. These colors are now my flag.
What do you prefer… Order or chaos? Why?
Order and Chaos are themes I explore often in my work. You can’t have one without the other. I am not afraid to show the darker side of things because I find that there is beauty between the cracks and shadows where people often are afraid to look.
I don’t like it when things are too perfect or polished or clean. I often look to nature to find inspiration. I love little things like how ivy wraps around buildings or how things can decompose but give life to new things. It’s all beautifully tragic.
I think in modern society people are losing sense of these things. We’re all so wrapped up in our image. We’re obsessed with looking perfect or like nothing is wrong. I don’t think that’s a healthy way of going through life – especially as a creator. You’ll become this false version of yourself that you think is what everyone wants to see. You have to learn to embrace what is on the other side of the mirror – order out of chaos, chaos out of order.
The world of fashion is constantly pushing creators to develop their vision, perspective, and identity. There is no specific route, map, or guideline.
How easy did you find yours?
I am definitely still finding my way. For me, things started to click when I started to embrace my identity and who I am. For the longest time, I was afraid to be myself because I am the child of a refugee who fled Iraq. I’m Assyrian. Our history is riddled with sadness and violence. My family escaped genocide. We live in diaspora and our homeland is pretty much gone because of all the war and conflict. It’s sort of like growing up and your roots have been torn out. You don’t have any real foundation or identity.
Growing up, my father told me to never say where we came from because he was afraid of what people might think and wanted a better life for us. It made sense as I got older because even today when I explain what my background is people don’t understand or have no idea what I’m talking about.
As I got older it made sense what my father told me because a lot of what I had to learn about what happened to us came from newspaper articles. It made sense that they wanted to forget about all these horrible things and start over.
I felt the need to embrace these things because it’s my history. I can’t just become someone I’m not. This is what became the foundation of my vision as a creator. Truth, even if it means it could be painful. [ æra ] is now my home.
Any plans for the future?
I am going to be doing my second fashion show in Milan for my next collection in September. I am also working on a perfume and I would like to take my mom to Paris. – V
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Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Fashion: Aera / @aerabrand
Make up/hair: Anastasia Kataurova / @anastasiakataurova
Interview: Iro Bournazou / @irwb
Video&set assistant: Francis Brinkman / @francisbrinkman
Styling assistant: Hedvig Anvik / @hedviganvik
Editorial assistant: Inga Lavarini / @ingalavarini
Soundtrack: Jar of Flies – Gem
Carol at The Wall Agency / @carol_levergger @thewall.agency
Chiara at Wolves Mgmt / @axayos @thewolvesmodel