Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing the admirable and talented lady Anie Zanazanian from Anie Z Couture. Anie Z’s gowns definitely speak style, class, elegance and most of all couture. This woman is remarkable in so many ways including her successful career path, juggling family and business life and her extraordinary talent that keeps on surprising everyone. Amongst being the successful and artistic woman that she is Anie Z as a person has a lot of substance with a big bright heart, she is also the wife of Grand Master Photog Yervant and a mother of two young boys Ricky and Robbie.
Read our Q&A with Anie Z Couture Designer who talks about life, making it in the industry as a successful couture designer, what inspires her, her fascinating designs, her participation as a featured designer at Fashion Aid 2015 and more…
When was it that you realised that fashion design was for you?
Ever since I was six years of age, going back to East Africa in Ethiopia where I was born my mother would buy books that had cutout dolls and fashion, one would cut the shapes out and mix and match to create outfits. This little box specifically for little girls that had lots of fashion in there and I would cut up the pieces and dress the cardboard doll and that was my favourite past time. It was from that moment I started drawing and would stick the designs on the cardboard dolls and then of course that graduated onto the Barbie doll. My mother would also sew for herself and was always a very glamourous woman and quite fashion forward in those days and whatever material was left I would take it and create outfits for my Barbie. Since then I knew that was my first calling that I wanted to become a fashion designer.
Tell us a little bit about your studies and career journey?
My parents wanted me to study medicine and they were pushing me into the field of medicine however science and medicine was just not my forte and I studied business instead. I kept up with my business studies discovering that is was a strength of mine and a field I loved especially marketing. After graduating in Business Management, majoring in Advertising and Marketing I then continued to obtain a further two degrees in Higher Business Management. This landed me my first job in a advertising agency where I was only eighteen years of age, I then joined a large medical buying corporation VHA (Victorian Hospitals’ Association) as a junior administrator, after a succession of promotions, I was the main buyer for hospitals of Victoria. That’s when Ansell approached me to become a Sales Representative, I soon realised that I was a better Sales Representative than a Buyer. The rest is really history and it was with Ansell that I really flourished and within 8 years, after a number of promotions I was Sales and Marketing Manager Australasia before I found out I was expecting my first child. After giving birth to our son, I realised that the corporate world which required overextended hours, a lot in travel were not longer my priority but my baby was. So I resigned and soon joined my husband’s photography business which has led me back to my initial passion as a couture designer. I create gowns for photography for workshops here and overseas and gradually received recognition and a lot of encouragement to start my own label.
What inspires you to create?
It’s purely my outlet and the only way I can really relax. I cannot relax unless I am drawing, cutting or sewing. On a stressful business day, I need to lose myself into my cocoon of designing and sewing or just go to fabric shops and touch and feel lots of fabric. My favourite is button shops, buttons have fascinated me since childhood. I go into a trance where I escape into a world of fashion and creation.
Describe your style?
My style has a lot of cheekiness to it. It is quite Avant-garde but has elegance and humour all combined. Much of it reflect on my style from my very own self quote from my corporate days that even in a business suit, there is still a ‘Woman’ who wants to be ‘Woman’ be elegant and have a little sensuality and mystery. For me, a business woman can and must always look professional but never let go of femininity.
I can remember in my corporate days experience being in a very high position and being female in a mans world I had female colleagues who really changed in many ways to fit in the man’s business world. I never did I kept on being a feminine woman but a strong woman and I did enjoy my doors to be opened my chairs to be pulled by a man and I would appreciate it. However, many of my female colleagues would debate the issue and say no I am a director, I am an achiever and wanted equality and would express how a gentleman should treat a woman. I would often look at these strong, business woman and would wonder why they were selling their femininity in order to succeed. They should succeed for their brain and capacity not because you’re trying to be as equal to men. We shall never be equal to men, we shall always play the game and I love playing the woman’s game and I think my fashion sense came from yes I am serious and I am a business woman but ‘I am a woman’.
So I think my more structured designs and suits started from my corporate years, I used to make 3 suits a week, each had the Anie quirkiness to it. All evening wear also had a twist of quirkiness to them but always elegant and exuding professionalism at all times. From then, I knew my style had something different about it, and I took that through into what I do today. Many of my gowns are quite editorial as most are created for my husbands photography workshops and seminars. I soon realised that I really should launch my own brand, hence AnieZ Couture is my own brand now and I design and create bespoke pieces for women.
What advice do you give to aspiring young fashion designers who want to make it in the industry?
They can have diplomas, degrees, portfolios but unless they live, breathe, dream and wake up in the middle of the night to design something, touch fabric, and be original, its just not going to cut it! It’s all about passion. I apply that to everything, being passionate about whatever you are doing and do it perfectly, no shortcuts. It’s all or nothing in anything in order to succeed.
Who have you dressed?
The most exciting was Ita Buttrose as I have always idolised this woman and have followed her career path.
What can we see in the next few years from Anie Z Couture?
I think a lot will come from my label in the future as now they have unleashed my true passion, my brain has become even more creative, the encouragement I receive, the more I am creating, it’s like I have truly become unleashed and going wild!
For more information on Anie Z Couture visit www.aniezcouture.com
Interviewed by Anna Pappas