Bringing back Rolling Stones groupy fashion

By Zoe Walker

Fashion designer Arielle Mermin. Photo / Babiche Martens
Fashion designer Arielle Mermin. Photo / Babiche Martens

Arielle Mermin is an exciting new talent debuting at NZFW Arielle Mermin is one of four young designers showing as part of today's New Generation show at New Zealand Fashion Week, with her collection called Some Girls. "It's all about the Rolling Stones' groupies spanning from the early 1960s to the late 1970s - my favourite decades in fashion," she explains.

Mermin launched her namesake label earlier this year, with a free-spirited aesthetic she says is reflective of her Californian upbringing. "I grew up in a very bohemian household outside of San Francisco, where both of my parents - beatniks gone hippie - were avid collectors of records, books, art and vintage clothing."

Now based in Tauranga, Mermin previously lived in Los Angeles where she worked in the art and wardrobe departments in the film industry, on such shows as Big Love and Ugly Betty.

"Eventually I got sick of commuting two hours each way for a home that was only 13km to the beach.

I guess you could call it a quarter-life crisis because after endless 80-hour work weeks hanging around film sets, I just needed a break. So I bought a ticket to Indonesia where I surfed for six months, then travelled to Australia and Fiji, then eventually came here. I met my fiance three weeks after I arrived while surfing in Kaikoura and I haven't left. I love it here."

The first thing I ever made was a tie-dyed shirt at Camp Winnarainbow. I went every summer when I was a kid. This hippie activist, Wavy Gravy from Berkeley, California, started it and it was a blast - we lived in tepees, ran around in tie-dyed outfits and clowned around all day.

My style is always moving forward while looking to the past.

My earliest fashion memory is stumbling upon my older brother's David Bowie Aladdin Sane album and trying to figure out "who is this guy?" From then on, fashion and music-wise, my mind was blown.

I love New Zealand fashion because it's eclectic. Anything goes.

The fashion scene in Tauranga is pretty laid-back and surfed out. Living there does affect my design as I go to the beach way too much and procrastinate.

My shopping habits are sporadic. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal.

My first shopping experience was going to the Salvation Army with my parents and scouring for all the amazing finds. I mostly remember the total anticipation and excitement I would get right before we would go.

My favourite item of clothing is a pair of vintage high-waisted Sergio Valente jeans I found when I was 12. They were old then but they look better on me each and every year.

I look my best after a few martinis ... Isn't that how we all feel?

My most recent purchase was Frye boots from the States. My favourite shoe company in the world and they make size 11 for my feet.

My approach to beauty is way too relaxed.

In my makeup bag I have stuff from 10 years ago. I need a major overhaul.

The designer that I respect the most is somewhere between Barbara Hulanicki from Biba for hustling the scene, Vivienne Westwood for changing the scene and the Mulleavy sisters [of Rodarte] for pushing the scene.

The most treasured item in my wardrobe is a beautiful burnt orange, yellow and black floral jacquard cardigan of my mother's. I've worn it since I was 14 or so. She bought it in San Francisco just after she arrived from France in the early 60s.

My design is for fun, adventurous and dynamic women. I'm inspired by way too many things to list. It is constant, relentless and rewarding.

What do you hope to get out of showing at NZFW? Exposure and stockists. Behind all the glitz and glamour, it's a trade show and very media effective. It's very unusual to debut a first collection at NZFW as most designers have at least a few seasons under their belt, but I thought it was a great opportunity to launch my brand.

- NZ Herald

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