Ana Diaz — Just Like Magic

My friend Emma Do described Ana Diaz‘s Hawaiian shirts as “ones that won’t make you look like a drug dealer”. Like much of her new Edo Tropico collection, which consists of high waisted bathers, drawstring waists and a heavy handed approach to clashing colours, it’s not great on paper but amazing in actualisation. As I discovered when I interviewed her for Broadsheet last week, she’s very intuitive like that…

With every article I write there’s always some small but interesting detail, the simple use of a certain phrase or word, that doesn’t make the final piece. Here is the complete and unabridged interview just for your eyes…

From the first Japanese people to land in Hawaii to the victims of B grade horror films, your sources of inspiration are eclectic, to say the least. How do you go about taking elements that speak to you from art, film and everyday life and making them into a tangible collection?

It always comes down to what is happening in my life at the time. Misteria was designed at a time where I was getting into cheesey horror, but in particular, falling in love with the strong female characters that usually fooled everyone and ended up being the unlikely murderess’ all along. They have a bit of an Audrey from Twin Peaks vibe to them. And while in Japan I took so much inspiration from the landscape and found ways to connect the winter landscape we were experiencing to a summer collection… in my research I found the stories of the first Japanese settlers into Hawaii and built a story around it. With every season I try to take a more organic approach to inspiration… the vision will come to me when it’s ready!

Suzy from Dario Argento’s Giallo horror film, Suspiria
Don’t worry I’m not trying to cyber with you, but what are you wearing today and why?

Diaz Giallo shirt in navy over lonely hearts long pleated black dress, big oversized black hoodie from Kmart (probably), grey tights and my Vivienne Westwood mocassin knit slippers which I take everywhere with me in case my feet need a rest (ie. every opportunity possible – desk time is slippers time). Also one Holly Ryan cactus earring because (I lost one at my campaign shoot), a Jordy white gold heart ring I received as a graduation present two years ago and an opal set stone sterling silver ring my mum made me (my everyday jewellery). 

Collaborating with Sportsgirl obviously had a huge and exciting impact on your label. Do you shop at chain stores yourself and what is your attitude towards “fast fashion” as a phenomenon?

I have never been a big chain shopper, and I had this inherent guilt attached to it because it is obviously a threat to me as a designer. However working with Sportsgirl completely shifted my point of view… They were ultra supportive of our work as new graduates, the team guided us through every step of the way and it is so fantastic that they gave me the opportunity to get my work out there to a national audience. It was a complete game changer for me, and definitely gave me the boost I needed to take Diaz that step further. Learning how much they care about the fit and finish of every single garment made me rethink my attitude about chain stores. Not all of them are this great of course, but companies like Sportsgirl and Topshop really tick all the boxes… price, quality, and cool factor. Designers need to offer and even greater point of difference to this to survive in today’s market, which I think is a great motivator to go above and beyond and customer’s expectations.

I read somewhere that you didn’t know how to sew a stitch before you started your university degree. Is this true and if so, where did that leap of faith to dedicate yourself to something completely unknown come from?

I had hand sewed a little bit here and there – mostly my Barbie clothes while mum was sewing matching dresses for my younger sister and I – but it was really quite an organic progression from being a lost high school grad (we’ve all been there..).  I could have gone down the road of a mathematics/science based career, because I thought that was what came naturally to me, but it turns out I am just a really good problem solver and that is a very transferable skill! I started working in boutique retail which really opened up my eyes to the world of independent fashion, and I wanted to be a part of the industry,  That was what inspired me to study a double degree in Fashion and Business. Even through most of my studies I never thought I’d go into design, but in my final year and post graduation everything was pushing me in that direction so figured, who am I to fight it?! I am still young, have no responsibilities and very little to lose so it was a perfect time to give 100% to my vision.

You were a bit of a bookworm when you were a kid, who is your favourite protagonist or character in terms of style,as well as attitude to life?

It’s a bit more recent than my childhood, but I’ve always wanted to be Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. She has a great-alliterated name, was a complete nutcase and didn’t care what other people thought of her, and in the end was very brave. 
She was wispy and mysterious which are some of my favourite qualities. It’s such a cliche, but I always loved the girls who were the nerdy/uncool ones that came right in the end and showed everyone what they were made of. Probably because I was a massive nerd in primary school! 

Although a lot of really unique designers come out of Australia, young creatives like yourself often perceive working or interning overseas, say in London or New York, as a necessary step in their development. Do you share this perception?

So many of my very close friends are doing the overseas stint right now, and I’m not going to lie, I sometimes question my decision to jump right into it (FOMO!). But like I said earlier, I have no responsibilities and not a lot to lose right now so it’s the perfect opportunity to take the leap.
No matter what industry I got into, I don’t doubt for a second I would have been working for myself eventually. I guess everyone is different and we all learn differently. Building an upstart is a learning curve like nothing else, but also one of the most rewarding things you can do.
I wouldn’t change it now for the world, and days such as the one spent shooting the SS12 campaign really make it all worthwhile – it was so magical and we had such a hardworking and talented crew of people that made it all happen. The stars definitely aligned that day! 

Tell me something I don’t know about Ana Diaz (the person or the label!)

I lead a double life as a hipster tarot card reader 😉

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