Just across the pond, New Zealand designers Georgia Cherrie and Paris Mitchell Temple are no strangers to success. The pair launched their eponymous label Paris Georgia in 2015 with a feature most could only dream of – in American Vogue. Since then, Paris Georgia has appeared regularly across its coveted pages, as well as in international titles Paper Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and Inprint, which featured an infamous Pierre Toussaint shot of Hailey Baldwin wearing one of their slip dresses on the toilet, underwear around her ankles.
For a label that launched with only six basics, it’s a remarkable success story.
Speaking with the pair via Facetime at 9.30 on a weeknight, their humility is undeniable. Mitchell Temple is lying on the couch describing her career with an endearing ease – it includes a stint as assistant to then-art director of Vogue America, Raul Martinez. “Essentially, I was Anna [Wintour]’s fourth assistant,” she says.
“[Cherrie and I] basically met at 13 in high school [Diocesan School for Girls in Epsom, Auckland], and we actually did the fashion class together, which was quite cute,” says Mitchell Temple, whose voice warms at the memory. “Georgia moved into the apartment complex that my mum was living in.”
Mitchell Temple, whose mother ran Verve Magazine, and Cherrie, whose mother owned an advertising agency, shared a mutual love of fashion. “Paris and I – since we were only about 13 and 14 – always talked about starting a business together,” says Cherrie. “We were raised by two really, really strong mums, which drew us together and gave us the confidence to do what we’re doing now.”
The pair threw different business ideas around over the years, but fashion was always at the forefront. In 2015, they launched two projects: vintage e-commerce platform The Mercantile and a line of basics to complement it under the name Paris Georgia.
Initially, the duo’s focus was on The Mercantile’s vintage offerings and editorial-driven aesthetic. Paris Georgia was only ever intended to be a capsule collection of around six wardrobe essentials, designed to support and contemporise the primary vintage line. They couldn’t have foreseen the label’s success.
“We had this amazing response, we picked up some cool stockists in Australia,” says Cherrie of My Chameleon, The Dreslyn and Désordre.
The pair then noticed that one customer in particular regularly placed large orders with The Mercantile – an exciting development, and they started to grow curious about the buyer’s identity.
Soon this customer reached out: designer, retailer and seasoned vintage shopper Maryam Nassir Zadeh, who wanted Paris Georgia to showcase a full collection in her New York showroom. The pair would need to grow their line from six pieces to 25.
Cherrie describes this as the label’s pivotal “pinch-me” moment. “I don’t think we quite realised what we were getting ourselves into,” she says.
In the four years since its launch, the label has skyrocketed. It’s been worn by models Emily Ratajkowski and Sofia Richie. Sales are soaring, so much so that the business is currently undergoing a restructure.
Looking ahead, the pair is building a team beneath them – drawing from an exciting pool of emerging New Zealand talent, which will ultimately free up their time so they can focus on the creative side of the business. “Up until now it’s been like survival mode,” says Mitchell Temple. “Now we can play more to our strengths.”
Overseas travel is also on the cards, with a view to undertake more international collaborations – starting with a partnership with Australian footwear label By Far. While Cherrie won’t give details, she names By Far designers Valentina Bezuhanova, Sabina Gyosheva and Denitsa Bumbarova “a big inspiration”.
The timing of Paris Georgia’s arrival on the global fashion scene was impeccable: they were pioneers of the return to the ’90s, pushing wearable, effortlessly designed silk slip dresses, along with off-centre shirting, trench-style dresses and fun mini-dresses. Their next collection will launch in the first week of April, and will sit alongside the custom bridal line online.
Cherrie notes they design for their own wardrobes, so there’s an honesty and integrity inherent in each piece. “We really just design for the women that are around us and the women that inspire us,” she says. When asked how the pair maintained their friendship despite the pressures of running and growing a business, Mitchell Temple is quick to jump in. “The benefit of being best friends is you know to not upset each other,” she says. “You know how to not piss each other off because you know each other’s personalities so well. It’s actually a real perk.”
“We realise how lucky we are because we realise it breaks friendships,” says Cherrie. She tells me they often receive compliments about their working relationship. Their synchronicity and mutual respect is evident.
“Often we go in and don’t even ask each other how our weekends were,” says Cherrie. “We’re just straight into it because we’ve been waiting all weekend to get in and start working again.”
“And then by the time Thursday rolls around we’re like, ‘What did you end up doing?’” says Mitchell Temple, laughing.