Angelina Jolie Shakes Up Fashion with the Launch of Atelier Jolie

By admin Oct1,2023

Among downtown New York art aficionados, 57 Great Jones Street is something of a sacred site. Andy Warhol bought the two-story building in 1970, famously renting the second floor to his friend Jean-Michel Basquiat a decade later, shortly after they met. And now, with the façade almost completely covered in graffiti, it seems as if every street artist within a 30-mile radius has paid homage. “Perhaps we can do something with all the art,” says Angelina Jolie, peering out from under her enormous umbrella. It’s a drizzly Sunday morning in mid-July, and she’s fresh off the plane from Italy. Six months ago, she and her eldest daughter, Zahara, 18, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, stumbled upon this place while hunting for downtown retail spaces. The moment they walked through the door, they knew the search was over. “I can be very impulsive, but Zahara is so grounded, decisive, and thoughtful,” Jolie says.

GOING FOR GOLD Jolie wears a lowerimpact silk slip dress and velvet cape from Chlo x Atelier Jolie Chlo SoHo boutique....“When she agreed, I felt we were both decided.”In November, the actor, director, and former UN Refugee Agency Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy will open the doors on Atelier Jolie, a somewhat broadly defined effort to bring her globally minded, socially conscious values to the world of fashion. She envisions it as a space of collaboration, a kind of cultural center–meets–design workshop that combines tailoring and upcycling services with a gallery space for local artisans and a café run in partnership with refugee organizations. “I’ve met a lot of artisans over the years—very capable, talented people—and I’d like to see them grow,” Jolie says as she gives me a tour of the space before the contractors go to work. Her list of collaborators includes the London-based milliner Justin Smith, the American artist Duke Riley, and South African lacemaker Pierre Fouché—but, she says, “it’s not really about fashion.” Nor is Atelier Jolie about her, she is quick to add. “I don’t want to be a big fashion designer. I want to build a house for other people to become that.” Jolie’s goal is to create community, and in that sense, her project breaks the traditional celebrity mold—one that often amplifies the cult of its founder’s personality. Atelier Jolie’s model is perhaps best compared to the Olsen twins’ The Row, where fame doesn’t overshadow the clothes, or undervalue the commitment.

IN THE HOUSE From left Helen Aboah in Briony jewelry president and chief operating officer of Atelier Jolie Giles Duley...

There are signs that the team is beginning to make its mark: Draped over the doorway is a blank canvas stenciled with the Atelier Jolie logo in white spray paint. “That was my son practicing,” Jolie says proudly of Pax, 19, who along with Zahara has been heavily involved with Atelier Jolie. As a single mother of six, Jolie considers major endeavors such as this one a project for the entire family, and she turns both expansive and personal on the subject when the conversation turns to her children. “I was 26 when I became a mother,” she tells me. “My entire life changed. Having children saved me—and taught me to be in this world differently. I think, recently, I would’ve gone under in a much darker way had I not wanted to live for them. They’re better than me, because you want your children to be. Of course I’m the mother, and hopefully that safe place for them and that stability. But I’m also the one that they laugh at—and I see them taking over so many different aspects of our family.”

TONE SETTERS Collaborators Gabriela Hearst and Jolie wear Chlo x Atelier Jolie.

For someone raised on rebellion, Jolie’s mode of dressing tends toward the minimalist and monochromatic, with a distinctly restrained and conservative bent. As a woman who’s been deeply involved with humanitarian causes for decades, she’s clearly worked hard to keep the focus on what she’s doing, not what she’s wearing. She prefers to shop for herself and work with tailors rather than celebrity stylists. “There are more books than clothes in my closet,” she allows. “I’m not someone who likes clothes to consume her life. And I don’t love the idea of being ‘influenced.’ ”

PLAYING TAG Jolie who has selected 57 Great Jones Street—former home to one JeanMichel Basquiat—for her new ventures...

Though she’s loath to admit it, her approach to fashion has been hugely influential. Each style move she makes is fastidiously anatomized by fans on social media, and her seeming reluctance to make a spectacle of herself has only contributed to the current yen for all things quiet luxury (see also Gwyneth Paltrow’s 2023 courtroom style and the character Shiv Roy in Succession). These days a fashion website that successfully identifies Jolie’s choice of a seemingly unremarkable airport shoe can drive hundreds of thousands of clicks. And it’s precisely that power that Jolie is hoping to harness for good.

“I find it slightly funny that we are involved in fashion—I don’t think any one of us is overly ‘fashionable,’ ” she says, referring to both herself and her children. “But because we live in our clothes, it is so much a part of who we are, and something that’s important to explore, especially for young people.” The atelier is exactly the kind of place she’d like to go to with her kids. “I’ve always wanted to take my family to a place where I can say: Does your clothing really represent you? Absolutely you? And do you love it? I think the average person would not think it does. But I think tailoring does that for you.”

FAMILY BUSINESS From left Jolie her daughter Zahara  and her son Pax all wearing Atelier Jolie designs that they helped...As Jolie tells it, the concept for her new project was born out of a desire to address conversations around self-presentation and identity head-​on. She recalls one such pivotal family discussion surrounding the Los Angeles premiere of her Marvel movie Eternals back in 2021. “I don’t tell the kids how to dress,” she says. “Even when they were little, I just put things in front of them.” The same goes for public appearances: “Nobody has to go anywhere if they don’t want to, and if they don’t want to dress up, they don’t have to.” On this particular occasion, five of her kids did—enthusiastically—dress up. And so Jolie decided to make their red carpet appearance an experiment in circular fashion, gathering pieces from her closet and letting her children choose. In the pile: a beige box-pleated Gabriela Hearst dress that Shiloh, then 15 and known for her smart suiting and boyish haircuts, opted to wear youthfully tailored to the knee. Zahara, meanwhile, selected a dazzling beaded Elie Saab dress from her mother’s storage, first seen at the Oscars in 2014. “I went vintage shopping with a few of them as well—I think Knox was wearing all vintage. The cut was quite unusual, quite cool, I thought,” says Jolie of her youngest son, then 13. “I want them to be their own people.”

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