How did you become acquainted with Anna and the label, and what are your recollections of the first content collaboration? What were your first impressions of the label?
It must have been 2013 when I was first offered gifting from the brand as an influencer, and I remember looking up this ‘Anna Quan’ - I think she’d just designed the second or third collection of the brand - and I immediately said to myself, ‘she’s going to be big’. I was still just learning about fashion so I couldn’t really put my finger on it at the time, but looking back I got a sense of how international her vision was. I didn’t actually accept the gifting this time - I wrote back asking to loan samples instead, and the content I shot with pieces from that collection are among my all time favourites. Then the next season Anna sent me that monogram shirt that made her viral - I still have it.
Both in a creative sense and also as one of my oldest friends, Anna has been such a big part of my journey as well. When I was connected with Anna, I was right at the beginning of defining my own aesthetic, and her designs were a key influence on me.
How would you describe Anna’s signature aesthetic, and what elements of the label are you personally drawn to?
I’ve heard the word ‘minimalist’ when people talk about Anna Quan, but for me that’s a misnomer when it comes to the brand. I don’t think Anna was ever trying to be minimalist or any ‘-ist’. I believe her aesthetic is informed by deeper values, and that’s why the brand has been so successful in engaging a loyal global audience. A few years ago when I was still writing my blog regularly, I remember using the word ‘sexy-cool’ when describing my outfit that included Anna’s pieces. It’s a kind of subliminal sexiness coming through a haphazard unbuttoning or wide leg pants that emphasize the waist without showing any skin. That’s what I would say if I had to put it into words, but what draws me to the label is really more instinctual. When I’m getting dressed, it’s what I reach for. I think there are so many women who can relate.
You have bases in both London and Paris – describe how you collaborate with Anna from a creative perspective.
I was living in Perth when Anna and I first connected, so funnily, it wasn’t until I was living in Paris that we began to see each other in person more often. So I was along for the ride from Anna’s very first season having her showroom during Paris Fashion Week. I was very honoured when she asked me to shoot her social campaign in Paris for the first time. It was one of my first ‘proper’ shoots, and was one of those experiences that led eventually to me launching my production company Beige PIll in London and Paris. Since then I’ve lost count of the shoots we’ve done together in France.
How does your European-based location inspire the content you create for the label?
I think Anna was always meant to be in Europe. It just suits her and her aesthetic so well. I’ve shot Anna Quan in Paris, the South of France, the Castle of Versaille, Normandy and many more. Everywhere we shoot, by the way, people stop us on the street to ask about the collection. It’s also been really important for the brand to tap the international talent in both models and creatives. As the fashion centres of the world, in London and Paris we have the benefit of having access to the most compelling and exciting talent from all over the world.
Video content is pivotal to creating brand awareness and success. As a Creative Director, what fixed elements are deployed to create the label’s mesmerising video narratives?
I remember Anna and I started to talk about investing more in video content just before the pandemic, and I had given her advice that it may be more valuable, rather than to invest in high production value campaign films, to tap the Reels/TikTok format. I think I had jokingly said, ‘just get the model to walk down the street’. Of course, this kind of video, in its own way, is even more difficult to make than traditional fashion films. All the elements needed to be specifically executed, beginning with the all important casting, selecting models who have the right look but also the right personality, choosing aspirational locations, giving specific movement direction for the model, and directing how the video is filmed. The ultimate goal is equal parts aspirational, showing a lifestyle that would be desirable to the Anna Quan client; effortless, as if it was done on a spur of the moment; and giving scope to ‘self-insert’, where the viewer can imagine themselves in the model’s place.
How have the label’s campaign shoots evolved during the last 10 years, and are there any consistent elements that you believe define the overarching ANNA QUAN mood across all campaigns?
As much as Anna is always evolving both her collections and also her business, her strength is in how she has remained consistent in her brand values from the very beginning. With every campaign, they take on a more international feel, but there are some undercurrents that have remained constant. One of these is Anna’s very particular sense of humour. She loves a touch that’s just a little bit awkward, even a little bit daggy, where we see a glimpse that she actually doesn’t take herself all that seriously. This comes through sometimes with her styling (she once styled a model wearing, I think, 3 shirts at once), and the not-quite-cool poses that she often likes to select for final. Many people don’t know this, but Anna is actually hilarious in person.
Talk to a memorable on-set moment that you have had with Anna.
When she would run in shouting: ‘Puff the sleeves!’. The sleeves were never puffy enough for Anna!
This discussion continues the celebration of ANNA QUAN's milestone 10 year anniversary, along with the release of never before seen content, an unveiling of our logo rebrand, and an updated take on the label's most iconic shirt, the White Anne Shirt.