Maimoun in Dialogue with Los Feliz based Design Director and Stylist, Erin Meehan
Erin Meehan defined a career for herself specializing in one of the most treasured categories in modern fashion, Denim. Having worked at what might be considered pillars of both classic and contemporary denim, The Gap and J-Brand; Meehan currently holds the position of Design Director at AGOLDE, a premium denim label redefining the parameters of denim design. Initially established in 1989, AGOLDE re-launched in 2014 presenting a radical approach to the concept of fashion by aligning itself with an “anti-fashion style perspective.” Erin Meehan progressed from pursuing a career as a professional Ballerina, to establishing herself as a connoisseur of denim. Beyond her expertise in denim, Erin possesses a unique eye for capturing the beauty in individuality by styling for fashion editorials such as Purple and Oyster Magazine. Maimoun enters a dialogue with Erin about her influences, perspective on denim and how she is contributing to how we view modern styles in denim through her creative contribution.
Tell us about a notable memory from your upbringing, relating to anything, maybe something that continues to shape the way you think today?
I had anxiety as a child and found comfort in spending time alone in my bedroom reading fashion magazines and creating outfit ideas. My grandmother made a career for herself as a seamstress after coming to the U.S. from Cuba. She made clothes and costumes for my sister and me when we were growing up. I would show her photos from my magazines and we would make patterns and design clothes together. I have vivid memories of the sound of her sewing machine and doing fittings in her sewing room.
You started off your career pursuing a life as a ballerina and then into retail with a steady and successful career in styling and design, looking back which left you the most breathless?
There were many moments in Ballet that left me breathless. I trained at both Joffrey Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. It was emotionally and physically taxing and I eventually realized that it was not the best fit for me. Fashion helped me find myself again and reconnect to my (apologies for this Oprah Super Soul Sunday moment) life’s purpose.
Given that you’ve specialized your career in denim, is there a particular period of denim production that you appreciate the most?
I would have to say wash. I started my career as a wash developer for the Gap and traveled the world working with denim laundries and dye houses. It was an incredible learning experience and something completely unique to denim.
You showed me this amazing jumpsuit at your home with printed flowers and big buoyant sleeves which will be a sample as part of an upcoming collection for AGOLDE, can you tell us a little about your role within the company and stylistic boundaries you are aiming to push?
As the Design Director for the AGOLDE brand, I am creating the tone for each collection. Sketching, fitting, developing fabrics, creating washes and managing a team are all part of the day to day. When it comes to inspiration, I don’t really like to follow the idea of typical “heritage” concepts for jeans. When I’m doing my creative research, I don’t even look at jeans that often. I try not to think about boundaries, especially in the beginning to avoid stifling creativity. What follows then, is a process of trial and error that is influenced by the inspiration of the creative stage and results in the final vision for the collection.
Who or what is a primary source of inspiration for you?
Film, photography and art are what I look to most for inspiration. Filmmakers like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Roy Anderson and Brian De Palma come to mind; Steven Meisel’s work for Italian Vogue; and the intimacy of Nan Goldin’s work have made a big impact on me. I enjoy an artist’s work that has a strong point of view visually but also evokes strong, sincere emotion. I try to go to galleries and museums as frequently as I can to keep the creative wheels turning. As a designer, it’s important to explore art beyond the realm of clothing. Developing a strong visual language has always been super important to me and I do inspiration research daily to the point of near compulsion.
How would you define your personal style?
My style tends to be most influenced by films and fashion photography of the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Denim is an essential component to modern fashion, having evolved from work-wear to an accepted everyday womenswear item, and to becoming an American icon as well as a globally loved textile. What are your thoughts on the transformation of denim?
I love that denim has evolved into something that can be worn in a super sophisticated way but can still be casual and accessible. I love seeing women wearing our jeans at the coffee shop just as much as I love seeing them being worn by models in a fashion editorial.
What is something you are yearning to experience?
Traveling to Holguin Cuba where my mother was born.
What is something you have loved for a long time?
Swimming in the ocean and my dog Wyman.
Maimoun comes from the Persian language word meaning to welcome guests into your home. If you could invite anyone to dinner in your home, who would it be?
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Houston. If I could go back in time, Nina Simone.
INTERVIEW BY ARIEL BLEAKLEY