Designer Mindy Madden from Rhémy (centre) with models wearing her leather designs at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019. Image supplied.
Mindy Madden debuted her new luxury leathergoods and accessories brand Rhémy at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019. She founded the label after years of experience and expertise working under mentors from design houses such as Hermes, YVY, and Oroton. Mindy honed her craft in Australia and Europe before returning home to New Zealand to launch her own handcrafted brand. Each piece is made here in NZ from the finest leather and components that Mindy has sourced from around the world. The result is elegant pieces that are ethically produced and made to last making Rhémy’s offering unique and an excellent investment.
We caught up with Mindy to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
I wanted my first collection to be a true reflection of my years and experience leading up to the conception of the brand.
As a ‘tip of the hat’ to my mentors, this first solo collection has been inspired by the incredible craftswomen of France. Not only do they work long hours each day, but they do it looking as chic and ‘put-together’ as a model straight off the runway. These women are the powerhouse of the luxury industry, engineering the clothing and accessories we covet, with precision and care. There is no limit to the talent and skill of these craftswomen, and to them, I owe a great deal.
The collection honours effortless elegance, understated sensuality, and rebellious – yet playful design. An approach to fashion that has been in the background of my life for many years.
Style is more than skin deep – comfort is paramount, and confidence is your best accessory. With that in mind, I wanted to create a collection that makes the wearer feel that sense of empowerment. This collection is designed to make women feel feminine, powerful and chic.
What made you become a designer?
Simply put, I love creating beautiful things. I’ve always loved working with my hands. As a child, I was happiest when I was knee-deep in paints or raiding my grandmothers garden to create a flower arrangement. Over the years I gravitated towards clothing, (and while my style in those days was questionable at best), the process of bringing my vision to life was so rewarding. It propelled me to skip my last year of school and go straight into a Diploma of Fashion Design and Technology. Wanting to absorb more knowledge and deep curiosity to see how things were done elsewhere, I eventually ended up studying and working overseas. This was integral in refining my style and development process, and it introduced me to luxury leather goods. And as they say, the rest is history!
What inspires you?
Travel has been a huge inspiration for me – I love to experience how other cultures and countries create. Whether its food, architecture or fashion, it’s the small things that I notice. The way a craftsperson holds a needle or sits at their sewing machine differs from region to region. The flavour of food, the vibrancy of colour, and rigidity of tradition changes wherever you travel. I love to take these experiences and skills and use it as inspiration in my own work. I especially love learning the ‘tricks of the trade’ from different corners of the world.
Leather pieces from Rhémy’s debut collection.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
I keep my wardrobe pretty simple. Having a few key staple items makes my life so much easier, and I use accessories to change up my look. An oversized blazer, white shirts and tees, high waisted jeans and flowy dresses are the backbone of my wardrobe. This summer I will be living in long, wafty dresses with a great statement belt for that effortless, chic vibe.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
I have two!
– An IRO leather jacket that is a real ‘go-to’ all year round. If in doubt, throw on a leather jacket.
– A Yosuzi straw hat that is a MUST to get me through a New Zealand summer. I burn easily, so it’s been a lifesaver.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A great belt! Having a few key belts in your wardrobe is so important. You can change up an old-fashioned dress or re-adjust the proportions of your body and create a striking hourglass silhouette. As women, it’s so easy to create a flattering silhouette by simply cinching in your waist- no matter what size you are. It’s a powerful yet feminine look and gives a fantastic boost of confidence. Not only will it change the way you see yourself, but it can change up your wardrobe and enhance any outfit.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Accessories are your best friend. Play with jewellery, bags and belts to change up your existing wardrobe – add a pop of colour or try a new combination that you may not have thought of previously. To me, fashion should be playful and fun. It’s an extension of your personality, so experiment until you find a style that makes you feel joyful!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I entered the first handbag I ever made into the Independent Handbag Designer Awards. From thousands of entries globally, I was a finalist and flew to New York for the awards ceremony. It was confirmation that I was on the right track and pushed me to pursue leather goods as a speciality.
Leather pieces from Rhémy’s debut collection.
What can’t you live without?
Mascara… It really is a girls’ best friend. I’ve tried a ton of different brands, but my go-to is L’Oreal Paris False Lash Superstar mascara.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
6-inch stilettos. There was a time when I would endure that kind of pain, but that ship has sailed!