In the heart of downtown New York, there exists a sacred site that art aficionados hold dear – 57 Great Jones Street. The legendary Andy Warhol once owned this two-story building with a storied history.
Notably, it played host to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Fast forward to today, where graffiti almost entirely covers its facade, paying homage to its illustrious past. Under a drizzly mid-July sky, Angelina Jolie, fresh from Italy, contemplates this artistic canvas while sheltered under her enormous umbrella.
Six months ago, Angelina and her eldest daughter, Zahara, stumbled upon this place while searching for downtown retail spaces. Stepping through the doorway, they knew their hunt was over. Angelina reflects, “I can be very impulsive, but Zahara is grounded, decisive, and thoughtful. When she agreed, I felt we were both decided.”
Atelier Jolie’s Vision
In November, Angelina Jolie, known for her film roles, humanitarian work, and UN Refugee Agency involvement, will unveil Atelier Jolie. This innovative venture aims to infuse her globally-minded, socially conscious values into the fashion world.
It’s envisioned as a hub for collaboration, a fusion of a cultural center and design workshop. It will offer tailoring and upcycling services, house a gallery space for local artisans, and operate a café in partnership with refugee organizations.
Jolie’s objective is clear – she wants to nurture talented artisans she’s encountered over the years, stating, “I’ve met a lot of artisans over the years—competent, talented people—and I’d like to see them grow.” Collaborators like London-based milliner Justin Smith, American artist Duke Riley, and South African lacemaker Pierre Fouché are on board.
However, Jolie emphasizes that Atelier Jolie isn’t merely about fashion; it’s about community. Her goal is to provide a platform for others to shine. In this regard, Atelier Jolie shatters the conventional celebrity mold, emphasizing the artistry rather than its founder.
Exploring Atelier Jolie
The tour of Atelier Jolie starts on the second floor, a sun-soaked loft featuring high ceilings, exposed rafters, and reclaimed wood benches soon to be inhabited by skilled tailors. Angelina models custom woollen gray trousers, just one of the styles for made-to-measure orders. A custom slip starts at $300, and repair services begin at $10, providing take-home mending kits and a stud-it-yourself activity station.
A Space with a Rich History
While the building has changed hands since Basquiat’s time, remnants of his presence remain. The graffiti tag “SAMO©” adorns the concrete floor. Jolie takes pride in sharing the space with her son, Pax, who’s been actively involved with Atelier Jolie.
Jolie, a mother of six, speaks passionately about her children’s role in her life and projects. She credits her children with saving her and teaching her to navigate the world differently. She says, “They’re better than me because you want your children to be.”
A Journey Through Fashion
As Jolie sheds her layers and shares a personal art experiment, she reveals her extensive body art. These tattoos bear significant meanings, including phrases in Arabic and Italian. Her style is minimalist and monochromatic, reflecting her dedication to humanitarian causes.
Harnessing Fashion’s Power for Good
Jolie acknowledges her influence on fashion, even though she doesn’t consider herself overly fashionable. She prefers to shop for herself and work with tailors rather than celebrity stylists. She believes in using her influence for a greater purpose, as fashion can play a vital role in self-expression and identity, especially for young people.
Atelier Jolie aims to create a safe space for people to explore their style. Jolie recounts an experiment involving her children selecting outfits from her closet for a red carpet-event, demonstrating her commitment to allowing her children to be authentic.
A Collaborative Capsule Collection
Angelina Jolie’s collaboration with designer Gabriela Hearst resulted in a capsule collection with Chloé. The collection features eveningwear inspired by Jolie’s understated elegance. A notable piece is a dramatic floor-length velvet cape and a recreation of Jolie’s childhood crochet smock, handmade by refugees. The collection includes diverse nude shades and sustainable materials.
A Therapeutic Creative Endeavor
For Jolie, Atelier Jolie is more than a business venture; it’s therapeutic. She explains how this project helps her rediscover herself as she navigates personal transitions. She speaks candidly about her challenges, revealing that she has been on a healing journey for the past seven years, which has led her to focus on projects like Atelier Jolie.
As she embarks on this forward-facing endeavor, Jolie hopes to bring about positive change in many aspects of her life. Atelier Jolie embodies her desire to create, collaborate, and make a meaningful impact.
A Parting Memory
The visit with Gabriela Hearst ends with fond farewells and a sweet parting gift—a single-origin fair trade chocolate bar. As Jolie leaves the studio, she carries the essence of her collaboration and the hope of making the world a better place through fashion.