Since Angelina Jolie first announced her latest venture, Atelier Jolie, this spring, she’s revealed few details about her new sustainability-focused fashion studio, other than its purpose as a creative incubator and its partnership with luxury house Chloé.
Now, for the November issue of Vogue, the Academy Award-winning actor, filmmaker and humanitarian has given an in-depth interview about the project, and revealed its first looks — including the swirling strapless-bodice white gown she wears on the digital cover (photographed by Annie Leibovitz), which Jolie is said to have custom spray-painted for the shoot.
The dramatic image might evoke Alexander McQueen’s iconic spray-paint runway moment (or, more recently, Coperni’s spray-on dress with Bella Hadid), but it’s also a direct nod to the space that Atelier Jolie inhabits: the former home and studio of the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, located in the Bowery in New York.
There, Jolie is transforming the space into a place for community and collaboration, which will offer tailoring and upcycling services as well as an airy gallery space for artisans, according to Vogue, while the studio’s café will partner with refugee organizations. Atelier Jolie will officially open in November, with collaborations that include London-based milliner Justin Smith, American artist Duke Riley, and South African lacemaker Pierre Fouché.
“I don’t want to be a big fashion designer,” Jolie told Vogue. “I want to build a house for other people to become that.”
Jolie’s red-carpet style has always been effortless — from low-slung leather pants to va-va-voom gowns with plunging necklines and thigh-high slits — but she’s not an easy guess for a celebrity with big brand aspirations, as A-Listers have launched the nearly perfunctory fashion, beauty or wellness line to varying degrees of success. Joining her in the venture are two of her children, Zahara and Pax, who have been “heavily involved” in the launch, according to Vogue.
“I find it slightly funny that we are involved in fashion — I don’t think any one of us is overly ‘fashionable,’ ” Jolie said in the interview. “But because we live in our clothes, it is so much a part of who we are, and something that’s important to explore, especially for young people.”
Though Jolie has remained quiet about her personal life — her ongoing legal dispute with ex-husband Brad Pitt over their joint winery, and allegations of abuse during their marriage (which Pitt has denied) — she told Vogue that she feels as if “she’s in transition as a person” at 48 years old.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been myself for a decade, in a way, which I don’t want to get into,” she added, though she did note that she intentionally scaled back her film roles seven years earlier — the year they announced their split. “We had a lot of healing to do,” she said.
“I think part of this has also been therapeutic for me — to work in a creative space with people you trust and to rediscover yourself,” she added about the process of founding Atelier Jolie. “I’m hoping to change many aspects of my life. And this is the forward-facing one.”
As for the clothes themselves, Jolie, Zahara, Pax and Chloé creative director Gabriela Hearst model several pieces from the new line. (The collaboration was one of Hearst’s last acts as creative director of Chloé, as she steps down this month.) Jolie wears a slinky gold slip dress and velvet cape, Zahara wears a tailored white dress while Pax sports an off-white button down with a black spray-paint motif. All of the pieces are designed to be low-impact, with many incorporating deadstock materials.
Hearst and Jolie met a couple of years ago through mutual friends, according to Vogue, and the designer told the magazine that she admires people “who use their spotlight to illuminate those who need it… and she’s the epitome of that.”