• Portrait d’un Alumni : Eddy Anemian

Portrait d’un Alumni : Eddy Anemian

6 avril 2018

I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer for as long as I can remember – which is about as long as I’ve been a part of AGBU. Being an artist and being Armenian, they’re both in my blood, part of my identity. AGBU has helped shape my career path as much as it has helped shape me as an individual.

Just a few short months ago, Eddy Anemian was studying fashion design, with support from the AGBU Scholarship Program, at Brussels’ La Cambre School of Visual Arts. Now, he’s preparing to launch his own label and celebrating the debut of his latest collection at Stockholm’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

What helped put Anemian’s work on the runway? Becoming the winner of the 2014 H&M Design Competition, plus years of support from his AGBU community.

Read more about the rising Armenian star Teen Vogue has dubbed the “new king of couture” in this AGBU Alumni Spotlight.

Congratulations on winning the 2014 H&M Design Award! Tell us about the competition, and how it has changed your life.

The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind – and it looks like it will only get more exciting.

It began in September 2013, when I decided to submit my portfolio to the H&M Design Competition. I thought it was a long shot, because I’m still a student and countless designers from around the world apply. Before I knew it, I was traveling to the H&M headquarters in Stockholm to interview with the company’s head designer, Ann-Sofie Johansson. By the end of November, I was in London with seven other finalists, presenting my work to a jury that included fashion icons such as actress Michelle Dockery, style expert Michelle Violy Harper, Vogue editors Serena Hood and Sara Maino, and designer Erdem Moralioglu.

I left London the winner. It was really an incredible surprise. I received a prize of 50,000 euros to put toward my own label, as well as the opportunity to showcase my collection at the February 2014 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Stockholm. I returned to the studio right away, working non-stop to make my pieces runway-ready.

Now, I’m collaborating with H&M on a new line, “Eddy Anemian for H&M,” which should hit international stores in fall 2014. It has really been a “dream come true” experience.

For someone your age who is still in school, this gives your career a great headstart. What has helped you get to this point?

I have received extensive training at La Cambre, thanks in large part to AGBU’s financial assistance.

The fashion world is intensely competitive, and it is so expensive to obtain the fabrics you need – in particular for couture designs, which is my focus. I don’t have the means to finance all of my own projects. In this respect, my AGBU scholarship has been so helpful. With AGBU’s funding, I’ve been able to fully engage in the creative process without worrying about the financial burden.

I’ve also been guided by my many mentors at school, and at H&M, especially in the final stages of the competition. The company really gave me the critical input and resources I needed to make my Mercedes Benz fashion show collection a success.

How has AGBU helped shape your career path?

I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer for as long as I can remember – which is about as long as I’ve been a part of AGBU. Being an artist and being Armenian, they’re both in my blood, part of my identity. AGBU has helped shape my career path as much as it has helped shape me as an individual.

My family’s AGBU involvement goes back decades, and the organization played a huge role in my childhood. My earliest memories are from when I was five years old, joining my father for one of the many youth programs he organized on behalf of our AGBU St. Chamond/St. Etienne Chapter, or sitting next to my mother at an AGBU event.

I come from an immigrant family: my grandparents arrived in France from Syria and Turkey, and they helped build a diasporan community – the AGBU community – that was the world to me. We’re a strong community, but, like many in the diaspora, a small one, and we need to support one another to carry on. AGBU understands that, and with the support I received from the AGBU Scholarship Program, I know that the organization also understands me – where I come from, and where I hope to go in the future.

I grew up immersed in Armenian culture, speaking the language and enjoying our food, our music – everything. I love it all and I’m so proud of my origins. Five years ago, when I relocated to Brussels to attend La Cambre, I took all of that with me. Now, I’m incorporating my Armenian heritage into my designs.

How are you bringing your Armenian heritage into your work?

I’ve just started working on my final collection for school, and I want it to be a tribute to my Armenian roots. I absolutely love Armenian costumes: the rich colors, the abstract shapes, the fabrics…especially in Armenian dancers’ dresses, you can see the very strong use of appliqués. They are really classical and elegant.

When I visited Armenia three years ago, I purchased some great fabric that I’m hoping to use for my school collection. I’m also seeking an Armenian dressmaker in France to possibly partner with, and I’m thinking of using embroidery, like you would see traditional Armenian women wearing.

My teachers are hesitant; they don’t want it to be too folklorish. But I believe I can weave the old with the new and put a contemporary twist on a traditional design. I believe I can create an Armenian-inspired collection that the world has never seen before. The support I’ve received from the AGBU Scholarship Program, and the H&M Design Award, has given me the confidence that I can produce designs I believe in, ones that reflect my Armenian heritage and will be welcomed by today’s modern, international woman.

What else inspires you?

I’m always inspired by the beauty of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. I don’t think enough people in the world know how truly stunning it is there. The colors of nature, the greens and the yellows, the reds of the pomegranate, are so interesting and infuse so many of my pieces.

You’re finishing up your final year at La Cambre. What’s next for you?

While I produce my final portfolio for school, I’m also working closely with H&M on my line of clothing for them. I’ll be flying back to Stockholm a lot in the next few months to meet with the design team. We have so many exciting ideas as far as colors and prints, and I’m already learning so much about techniques. It’s so great, I feel like a real professional.

This is a step toward my next goal: creating my own independent label of couture clothing for women. I want to put an Armenian name in the fashion world, to turn the industry’s attention – and the public spotlight – to the Armenian people.

When I returned from the Mercedes Benz fashion show, my teachers said “we’re so happy for you. But now it’s time for your assignments!” So, in the short term, I’m focusing on school – and remaining thankful to the AGBU scholarship that helps me be there.