DESIGNER: Company of Strangers
Show: Contemporary Salon
Company of Strangers is a fashion stalker’s dream.
The Dunedin based label is one of the most effortlessly cool and exciting New Zealand fashion brands to emerge for quite some time, seducing its cult following with quirky yet complementary collections of high fashion clothing, vintage leather bags and jewellery.
Designer Sara Aspinall graduated from Otago Polytechnic’s School of Fashion in 1998. She then spent six years working as design assistant to Margi Robertson at the renowned Nom*D label, before deciding that it was time to forge her own path.
Company of Strangers was launched in 2008 on a mission to create, re-create and collaborate. The label gained near immediate recognition for its re-worked bags and accessories – with the signature biker satchel lauded as ‘Best Handbag of the Year’ by Metro magazine in 2009.
Aspinall’s designs are frequently influenced by visual art and music. Company of Strangers collections have been inspired by the paintings of Frida Kahlo and Jean Debuffet, and found rock ‘n’ roll muses in Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Keith Richards and Marianne Faithfull.
The label forms both seasonal and lasting relationships with emerging and established local artists. Clothing collections have featured prints by Dunedin street artist Philip James Frost, and pop culture inspired hand- embroideries by Dunedin gallery owner and artist Jay Hutchinson. The jewellery collection is an ongoing collaboration with Underground Sundae designer Anne Mieke Ytsma.
Like any good contemporary artwork, each piece in a Company of Strangers collection invites the viewer to look deeper, make personal interpretations, and fall in love. Aspinall and her collaborators create fashion that people want to spend time with, need to return to, and reinterpret with every wear.
Company of Strangers is stocked in many of the top fashion boutiques throughout New Zealand and Australia – including Plume, Children of Vision, Zambesi and Nom*D Inc – and has been enthusiastically championed by online fashion retailers, as well as offering special one-off pieces through its own website.
Adored by the fashion press, and appointed to the judging panel for this year’s iD International Emerging Designer Awards, Sara Aspinall’s Company of Strangers is now widely recognised as a fashion force to be reckoned with.
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