Angelina Jolie and daughter Zahara have been in New York this week. It hasn’t been revealed, the reason for their trip, but I’d like to think it’s because Zahara would have just wrapped up her freshman year at Spelman College, so maybe they were in NYC to celebrate?
Maybe it was a little celebration mixed in with some work. Because Angelina made an announcement this week:
A more detailed explanation about the brand, Atelier Jolie, can be found at the website but I’m not actually sure if calling it a brand is even accurate. Calling it a clothing line doesn’t quite get there either. “Collective” seems to be the closest, per W Magazine, “Atelier Jolie will act as a liaison between creatives and consumers, connecting those who want one-of-a-kind pieces with those who have the talent and product to make them,” and, “an online resource to help source garment makers who make use of dead stock and vintage materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces.”
So it’s a fashion initiative that weaves together several of Angelina’s priorities – sustainability, philanthropy, creativity, community. Which is why, according to Vogue Business, she’s not following a “traditional business model”; there’s really no other celebrity brand out there that’s set up quite like this. And that explains the unconventional pre-launch announcement. As Angelina writes herself in her statement on the website:
“It’s all new, and I’m more of an artist than a businesswoman. I hope to see you there, and to be one of the many creating with you within our new creative collective. Bear with me. I hope to grow this with you.”
She’s announcing a business and in the same breath allowing for mistakes and setbacks, it’s about as unconventional as it gets. Starting a new business is never perfect, and there are always unexpected problems, oversights, and f-ckups. But people rarely lead with that in the introduction.
And yet this is how Angelina is choosing to present the project – and yes, it’s a choice. She’s Angelina Jolie. She’s been photographed more than almost everyone, celebrity or not; her clothes have been analysed and criticised and obsessed over; she could have come out of the gates with big swagger and full confidence, promising the moon, the sun, and the stars. Instead it’s been a decidedly modest unveiling, a low-key, almost hesitant first step.
This is strategic messaging. Because if the goal of Atelier Jolie is collaboration, and if she means to credit the tailors and the artisans who make magic behind the scenes, this is a welcoming tone. Let’s see in the fall, when Atelier Jolie is expected to debut, how this energy translates to the actual product and process of what the business is about.