Interview with Laura Myers of Atea Oceanie
Take Tahiti - an island whose very remoteness enshrouds the land in mystery. The Polynesians have an expression to describe this phenomenon: “Atea Oceanie,” meaning distant, far away, out of reach. As Laura Myers considered her elegant line of minimalist sportswear, she thought back to her early life in New Zealand and Tahiti. Like a tailored piece from her curated collection, the name was a perfect fit. Atea Oceanie has since become a favorite of celebrities and fashion devotees alike, and its once-foreign moniker is becoming a household name.
Tell me about starting Atea Oceanie. What is one memory that stands out in your mind?
I will always remember seeing the model at our first shoot emerge from the dressing room in the first look. It felt otherworldly to see my long nurtured ideas brought to life. The confluence of a great girl, with the right hair, make up and trainers was in the moment, perfection.
What were some of your early experiences as a designer working in-house for other brands?
The most informative work experience I had was working in production and wholesale sales. It was very important for me to feel comfortable with all sides of the business before I launched my own collection.
Who have you learned the most from in your career thus far? Do you have mentors?
In my late 20s, I worked with a French woman who had been at Hermes for many years, I was in awe of the quietly, considered way she lived and have been inspired by it ever since.
Tell me about your experience as a student.
One of my favorite memories was studying fashion history at Parsons in Paris. Our professor had such enthusiasm and vast knowledge, we were completely rapt in every class and thrilled to be able to then visit some of the places where these hallowed names had lived and worked.
You’ve traveled and lived in many places. How do those combined influences affect Atea Oceanie’s overall aesthetic?
I am always thinking about how to feel myself, in the many different places I end up so from the perspective travel really focuses me on the need for pieces that have ease and fluidity.
What was the inspiration for your Spring/Summer 2016 collection?
I had been reading about the lightning fields in New Mexico and was captured by the contrast of something with so much life force in these still, open landscapes. This evolved into the addition of a bright red color, a first for Atea, in pared back elongated silhouettes.
Who are the women who inspire you each season?
When I started the collection I was thinking about the wardrobe of a modern Carolyn Besette. I am inspired by women whose quiet confidence manifests in unfussy sporty, elegance.
What’s the most rewarding part of your business?
I have an incredible team whose dedication I really inspires me. The way we work is very collaborative so I find the journey of ideas and the back and forth very rewarding.
What motivates you as a designer?
I am always thinking about wanting to make clothes the women I admire would want to wear.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring fashion designers and fashion students, what would it be?
Let the ideas percolate. Some things can’t be rushed.
What’s next for Atea Oceanie?
We have grown so much in the last two and half years since launching that I am very keen to consolidate the relationships with our retail partners and customers before making any drastic moves.