That certain sense of beauty and boldness
Founder Agata Szybowska-Halewska about her brand, beauty and boldness
»I go through life boldly and with fearless devotion to what I do.«
Who particularly influenced you visually and in terms of fashion in your childhood and youth?
Looking back to my childhood memories, I think that my sense of aesthetics was shaped by the two most important women in my life, my mother, and my grandmother. My dad’s grandmother was an aesthete in every aspect of life and a talented artistic soul at the same time. She was a wonderful, elegant woman who introduced me to the world of literature, music and also taught me manual work.
The ability to composition and drawing was also shown to me by my grandmother, who loved to embroider especially floral compositions on napkins and light items of clothing such as blouses and collars. Her favourite theme was apple blossom.
And what about your mother?
My mother, who surprisingly is an economist by education, is also a huge aesthetic. But with a much more classic taste than me, has always strived to create her clothes individually. I know from the stories that as a student, she made crochet berets and accessories for herself.
I also remember a beautiful, navy blue, openwork dress, which she created on a home sewing machine from a fabric, which was originally intended for curtains. I know that it was widely commented on after the New Year’s Eve party. In my family home, as well as at my grandmother’s, there were always fabric coupons that I could take and pin-up according to my idea. Although no one professionally dealt with sewing.
When did you start with your own design?
The first dress of my own idea was created when I was 14 years old. It was my mother who made it at my request on our sewing machine. Huge buffs, velour fabric, tightly fitted to the figure. I’ve always liked strong accents that draw attention. At the primary school graduation party, the teachers asked me where I got this dress from. I said that my mother sewed it for me, although I did not mention that it was strictly according to my idea.
How and when did you decide to make fashion your profession?
The artistic passion led to hesitation whether to choose a secondary art school or a humanities high school. I chose the humanities high school. Nevertheless, all party dresses I wore were not store-bought. I just had an idea in my head, I wanted to implement it and the event was a great opportunity to find time to sew the project. I prepared the forms myself and the cut ones were sewn by my friend who had a good machine. I’ve always been interested in the creation process. I prefer to entrust the workmanship to other hands, of course, under my supervision, because the way, the sewing process, manual work with the fabric has a key impact on the result.
Back then, I was aiming for mini fashion, large necklines, and eye-catching accessories. Fringes, artificial satin flowers, and draped fabrics with a metallic thread, which made sexy dresses in the atmosphere of the 80s and 90s. Some of the things had to be finished by hand, and I did it.
Today, thanks to this, I know how to convey it to my team, so that the result fulfils my dream idea. I chose my studies in the field of finance and banking. Today I cannot answer why (laughs). But each stage in life contributes to our development. It was then that I started wearing jackets and suits of my own design.
The trend for wide shoulders, jackets paired with skirts revealing the knees, then I was inspired by the business style of Lower Manhattan. My blue suit with white tennis stripes at the time, today is an inspirational base for the TIFFANY DOWNTOWN GRAY.
How long have you been on the market with your AGGI?
The projects that I initially created for myself always attracted attention, were complimented and people asked where I got it from, so it was a natural process to create it on a larger scale. The brand is named after my name – which comes from the fact that the designs are Agi’s, a play on words in Polish leading to AGGI.
The AGGI brand was established in 2003 in order to be able to operate in business, although the ideas of projects have always been in my head. Next early years gave me the time to decide on the final idea and the direction I wanted the brad to go. We had begun with AGGI on a local market but in its natural course it took off abroad and it’s still moving forward.
What were the first years like for you?
The beginning of operations on a business scale was team building. Fine-tuning manual skills to make my ideas come true. From the beginning, I had a bunch of great craftsmen with me on board who helped me bring my vision to life.
At that time, the projects were sold mainly in Krakow and large cities in Poland. For several years we only sold on the local market but thanks to the glamour style of the brand it got very popular among the celebrities and before long we could see AGGI on the red carpet, grand openings, big events, and television. This was a great jump start for the brand and my instinct for its course did not fail me.
The development of the Internet and social media allowed me to show AGGI and my designs, which I call my children on a large scale, in a miraculous way (laughs). The great thing is that designers from all over the world can now reach their audience in other countries, on other continents.
Your style is wonderfully glamorous on the one hand and made for everyday life on the other. What type of woman do you make fashion for?
The most appropriate answer will be that for a woman active in many spheres of life.
Fashion is an art form for me. Fashion is what allows us to express ourselves every day and gives us joy, satisfaction, and a sense of beauty. That is why my designs are not made with the down-to-earth thought of covering the body against weather conditions or the eyes of others.
On the contrary. They are meant to be eye-catching, delight with proportions, colours, surprise with unusual solutions. Pay attention, give food for thought, inspire, give colour to life. So, in short, my fashion is made for women like me, creative, busy, chasing their goals, and in charge of their lives with imagination and boldness to stand out. It is for those who like to have fun and use fashion as a tool to express themselves during busy everyday life.
We sense a very unique lust-for-live vibe, has this feeling always accompanied you?
They say, „Do what you love, and you’ll never go to work again”. Meaning, if you love what you do, it is your passion, not work. Because of that, I go through life boldly and with fearless devotion to what I do. Also, fashion business belongs nowadays mostly to women and many of them, in my close surroundings became my friend during the years. This is another force that keeps me going.
All those wonderful women I work with and for. Of course, it may be hard and tiresome at times, but I’ve learned not to look behind me and move forward in the search for new that awaits me. Expressing myself through fashion is a big busted to everyday life and is like self-winding Perpetuum mobile. My work is my battery I am charging on constantly and planning on keeping it this way.
What shapes and inspires you today?
I must say that women are the biggest inspiration for me. The way they live today, people they meet every day and places they go to. Work, events, vacation, and everyday life situations, all require appropriate outfit. Those facts itself give me a chance to look at the woman’s wardrobe and design everything that she should find in it. But basically, everything around me can be an inspiration.
I am inspired by images, people, and the world itself. Sometimes just an inspiring conversation can lead to a new design. Of course, the creation process is an inspiration as well. When I see a new fabric, I usually already know what will be made of it. But a big part of inspiration comes from the past and what already happened in fashion.
I love to draw from the style of the icons and timeless trends and modify it in a way that forms in my vision. I think therefore my fashion is so popular with today’s women because it gives them a sense of timeless up-to-date-feeling, plus it’s simply gorgeous (laughs).
If AGGI were a music band, to which genre would it belong?
I really like this question! During the final stage of creating the design, when it is already sewn and I make the last corrections, often these are small details and small bits, but very significant, giving the design a definite character, it can be 0.5 or 1 cm in the line of lapels or shoulder drop in a jacket. Then, trying on the project and feeling its final character,
I think: Yes, it would be Prince or Bowie or Jagger. And this, that cut dress, that’s what I see Rihanna in. And the Whitney Houston patent leather jacket. And in a beautifully tailored suit, I see Celine Dion. So, my projects are rock, pop-rock. Giving joyful energy, just like rhythmic rock-pop songs, they raise our mood.
Is it a challenge to find a good balance between continuity and further development of one’s own design language and to balance it again and again?
Life is an eternal change. For me, the sense of aesthetics is constant, but the world is constantly changing both in the social dimension and in the way and pace of life. Hence, the role and place of women in society is also constantly changing. These factors have a natural influence on my way of creating, and the development and changes that happen smoothly intertwine with what is constant in my projects and my sense of aesthetics. Women and their constant changes affect the way I create for them.
Globalization, however perceived, also has its advantages, thanks to which AGGI can be worn by women all over the world, no matter what latitude they live in. I find it fascinating. I think finding a balance between continuity and development is a rather natural thing for me. I mostly stick to my vision and let this inner energy push me forward. Overall, the development is the driving force behind AGGI project, and I tend to keep it that way.
What does the future hold for your brand?
I want the future of AGGI to always respect the planet and the people who work and commit to the implementation of my visions. As our global society evolves, I will follow along with it as a person and as a designer.
I want to give people a sense of beauty and see my designs all over the world styled in various surprising ways.
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