Fashion

Chic clique: Learn the career, fashion and friendship secrets of these Auckland business women

Article by Fashion Quarterly

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FQ spoke to three local fashion tribes to hear what they had to say about friendship, careers and clothes. First up, we spoke to the power dressers:

Busy doesn’t begin to describe the schedules of Auckland businesswomen Mimi Gilmour, 33, creative CEO at Burger Burger; Jessica Barter, 34, and Maggie Carroll, 37, architects and directors at Bureaux; and Lizzie Cheshire, 37, mum and former film production coordinator. But whether they’re hanging out, running burger empires, designing buildings or wrangling babies, these ladies are doing it in style. At our shoot, that meant with two bottles of Perrier-Jouët champagne, an epic platter and their personal assistants in tow.


Background

Jess: I met Maggie at architecture school 17 years ago, on orientation day. She was the big kid who showed us around. In the same year was [architect] Nat Cheshire [now Lizzie’s husband], who we became close friends with. It didn’t take long for us to also be inseparable from his other half, Lizzie.
Mimi: I met Maggie through a friend a million years ago, but we all really came together through the charming Nat Cheshire in the heyday of Britomart when we were childless and drank tequila and danced till dawn.
Lizzie: Turns out I met all three through my husband — he has great taste in women.


Fashion philosophy

Mimi: Quality is key. My style is classic but fun, and I’ve learned to dress to my body shape. My favourite local designers are Miss Crabb, Zambesi, Wixii and my family friend Diana Scutts, whose clothes are well-made and effortlessly chic. If money was no object, I’d live in Ellery, Lanvin, Dries Van Noten, Marni jewellery and Prada heels.
Maggie: A typical workday for me can switch between client presentations, showroom visits, climbing a ladder and traversing a hillside chasing the sun until it’s time for a soirée. My wardrobe needs to function across it all, so I go for simple, tailored forms that are almost always black. In summer, that’s a silk shirt dress by Jac + Jack or Sonia Rykiel, with Lanvin or See by Chloé espadrilles. In winter, it’s slim black pants by Acne, Joseph or Theory, Robert Clergerie flats and my trusty black Lanvin cashmere scarf with an oversized Issey Miyake, Sonia Rykiel or Céline coat.
Jess: My wardrobe is full of dresses and coats. I wear lots of black and navy — Beth Ellery is a regular and Scanlan Theodore has been my best friend for the past few years. I wear boots in winter and sandals in summer — never sneakers or jandals on workdays — and the only pants I own are Lycra.
Lizzie: I live in Levi’s jeans, Lanvin or Converse sneakers and a comfy jersey by Wixii or Bassike. This was my uniform before motherhood too.

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Friendship philosophy

Lizzie: It comes down to constant chats, occasional dance-offs, and we just had our first girls’ weekend away. It will not be our last.
Maggie: We have really individual personalities but we share a penchant for quality and substance, and that applies to everything in our lives, from fashion, to food, to people.
Mimi: It’s about investing in quality relationships and celebrating life with delicious food and laughter around the table. There’s no problem that can’t be solved over a good meal and French champagne. And remembering to phone a friend when you need to. Being a mother has taught me that life is not achievable without your village.
Jess: We all value the importance of hospitality. That’s how we love and feel loved. And there’s not a day that I don’t hear from one of the girls or vice versa; it’s amazing how uplifting a barrage of texts can be when you send out an SOS.


Work x play

Jess: Owning a business together, Maggie and I have the most intense personal/professional crossover. But we’ve worked hard to know each other’s needs and always place more value on our friendship than the business.
Maggie: Jess and I have an amazing friendship where we can be boss ladies and friends at the same time. We talk waterproofing details while getting our nails done — who else can say that?
Jess: We’re all ambitious with our careers but are always on hand to help each other negotiate how we can conquer the world and be okay wives and mums at the same time.
Lizzie: Our lives are completely interwoven. We’re family and support each other in everything we do.
Mimi: I love my husband to bits, but I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t have my wives on standby.


Who can sit with us?

Lizzie: Anyone with a bit of sass who loves food and wine.
Jess: A stroppy cook who loves life and takes no prisoners. Perhaps [food writer] Marcella Hazan or Julia Child.
Maggie: I’d love Sofia Vergara to be our friend. Does anyone else feel this way?
Mimi: Or Yotam Ottolenghi, because I seriously don’t know what we ate before he came into our lives, and he sounds like he’d be a real hoot.

Words: Phoebe Watt.
Photos: Supplied.

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