Paris Mitchell Temple and Georgia Cherrie are the local design duo behind Paris Georgia, a fashion label embraced by A-list stars of the movie and music worlds, and a headline act at the 2019 New Zealand Fashion Week—for which they were awarded the title ‘Mercedes-Benz Presents’ designer. It is a title that honours designers “dedicated to the use of high-quality materials, innovative design and unique style”, with previous local and international recipients including Dame Trelise Cooper, Dion Lee, Derek Lam, Zambesi, and Kate Sylvester—for whom Paris styled at the New Zealand Fashion Week in 2015.
I caught up with Paris and Georgia prior to this year’s event, and began by asking Paris if it’s especially meaningful having come full circle in such a short space of time, now about to helm her own show on her own home turf.
“Definitely—though I do still style for local brands,” says the designer. “Styling gives you a different perspective on designing, makes you consider more angles, such as the editorial aspect. It also keeps things fresh and keeps conversations happening within the industry—through it we have a collaboration coming up with a local client soon.”
The pair emphasis the importance of supporting fellow creatives and the local industry, whether through dealings, employment or collaborations. New Zealand Fashion Week is no different. “We often know the models, we have friends and local talent walking the show,” says Paris. “For us, it’s just so important, that community.”
Do they feel added pressure doing it in their home town?
“Yes and no,” says Georgia. “There is pressure, but then, because it is your home town, you know that everyone there by your side loves and supports you.”
The designers “more than ever” took into account the New Zealand woman (“we love her, we are her”) for the winter-focused “localised collection” brimming with knitwear pieces. In honour of the partnership with Mercedes-Benz, Paris Georgia also designed a dress and a suit, both fashioned from a locally sourced, Japanese-produced fabric of the triacetate family that’s revered for its “high quality and performance”. Georgia describes the suit as a “spin” on the typical design that promises to makes as much impact as a Mercedes-Benz when driving down the street.
It was the seductive lines and interior of Paris’s own classic Mercedes-Benz 280E that inspired the sculpted, camel coloured dress. “We mimicked these lines by using a vegan leather binding, which sculpts the dress to fit the figure,” says Paris. “Our core focus is designs that praise the female form, and this dress stays very true to our aesthetic, whilst also incorporating the principles that have made Mercedes-Benz a design icon.”
The iconic automobile brand was equally impressed, with Lance Bennet, general manager of Mercedes-Benz Cars New Zealand praising the duo’s ability to capture its “prestige”.
“Overall, we are collaborative for sure, but we do definitely have our own separate approaches to design,” says Georgia. “Some pieces are definitely more Paris and some definitely more me. We let each other have moments in the collections that we know are more one designer than the other.”
Such approaches have been noted in Hollywood (and ‘Wellywood’, Jacinda Ardern is a fan) with their designs endorsed by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Katy Perry and Solange Knowles (“one of our favourite singers!”), and written about in the likes of Vogue.
“We have some amazing collaborations coming up, including with the top-selling accessories brand on Net-a-Porter,” beams Paris. “Plus, there’s a new bridal range coming out, which is huge news. It doesn’t stop. Every time we think that we’re coming up for air, something else happens—a new collaboration or a new range. The fashion cycle is a hectic one.”
It’s been a staggering rise in just three years. Earlier this year I spoke with New York-based designer Mona Kowalska, founder of the label A Détacher, and she lamented that gender inequality still plagues the industry in favour of the men. An issue that clearly hasn’t held this pair back.
“Our focus is not on imbalance,” says Georgia. “We are aware of it, but we focus on, and are surrounded by, strong and intelligent women. We feel very empowered by that, and we’re about ‘girl power’ all the way!”