Mimine Ag from her real name Yasmine Agbantou is a Beninese- French fashion and print designer born in Paris and raised in Benin. Here, we chat to the designer to find out more about her, her brand and more…
Who is Mimine Ag and how did this name came up?
My full name is Yasmine Agbantou and I am a Beninese- French fashion and print designer born in Paris and raised in Benin (West Africa). Mimine is the nickname my mother gave me from the day I was born and AG are the two first letter of my surname.
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
The brand has made its debut in June 2015 and was registered in January 2018. It is definitely an emerging brand.
Going to fashion school, my goal always was to create my own luxury label but I wanted to take the time to explore what having a brand meant by working for other designers labels. As a new designer, I believe that I can bring something different to the luxury couture market because I have a youthful eye and can really use it to mix it up with classical couture techniques.
What is the brand aesthetic and what can you expect when buying a Mimine Ag piece?
The brand is known for its attention to details, the use of invisible mesh to create cut out in the garments and the promise of exquisite haute couture techniques to always provide perfectly fit and fine tailored pieces. The collections are usually tributes to women empowerment. The Mimine Ag woman is cheeky but lovable; she does not try to fit in the society she lives in. She makes her own statement through the way she dresses and behaves. She is not shy and likes to draw attention through her clothes and her personality.
What is your background?
I was raised in Benin (West Africa) and went to the French school there. I got an economic Baccalaureate (equivalent of A level) and choose London to study fashion design. Growing up I was very focused of painting and drawing. It is when I started becoming a teenager that I started to be interested in designing clothe. I then came up to the realisation that if I wanted to be able to paint, draw and design clothe, I needed to study fashion design as I would be able to combine it all. So I came to London and did few short courses at Saint Martins to get my portfolio in order. The following year I started my foundation in art and design at Ravensbourne and also did my three-year BA in fashion and print design there. One of my tutors was adamant that I was made to work in Haute couture because of the way I was designing, pattern cutting and sewing. It then made me think that perhaps Haute couture was where I truly belonged. Few months after getting my degree I was blessed enough to enter the only Haute couture house in London: Ralph and Russo. I worked there for two years and truly learnt a lot of new things. Now I am focusing on my own dreams.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced to become a fashion designer and since you started the company?
Fashion design is one of the hardest fields you can get yourself into to be honest. There are thousand of talent people out there that go onto studying fashion and end up jobless because there are not enough jobs for everyone. So to me the hardest challenges were to catch up with the London style. You need to remember that I was more of an artist then a designer coming to London. You need transform your art and vision into clothe and when I started the courses that was very difficult for me because it felt like my creativity had to be contained into a small garment (hahah). But with time your learn how to make it all work. Second challenge is to juggle work and fun time, because we love what we do so much it usually does not feel like work so you can easily get consumed by your work and miss out of life. Since I have started the company I feel like everything means more, every action need to be weighted and thought through. Everything becomes a business move and it needs to be the right move.
From your experience, what does it take to make it into the fashion industry?
It is crucial to be highly passionate. It needs to be one of the reasons you are breathing. You need to be focused, have an impeccable time management, be able to self motivate and have a lot of discipline because no one will be behind you pushing you. To me, designing is just not enough nowadays because the competition is so tough. You need to bring more to the table so I suggest that you know your skills; be a great designer and a great pattern cutter or be a great designer and a great couturier because that will open you doors and give you a bit of an advantage. Also one of the main things is persistence, you cannot give up even if all the door closes, you need to keep knocking until someone gives you a chance.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
The highlights would be being in Vogue UK and my catwalk in Benin. All my family and friends were there so it was a special moment
Where do you plan on taking the brand in the future?
I am currently working on a new couture collection, which will actually be collaboration with a print label, and we are going to be releasing a ready to wear collection with them too. So it is very exciting but so stressful at the same time.
Fashion to me means freedom. Fashion in couture is limitless because you can do whatever and use whatever material.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I seem to be very confident but I am actually very shy and reserved. I usually open up if I feel comfortable and then I show my crazy side.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Benin is home hundred percent but London is my second home and I would love to live in Los Angeles and see how that goes.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Omg I cannot leave the house without my lip balm (I cannot stand dry lips seriously), my Mac lipsticks (investigator and antic velvet) and some hand cream without perfume.
Best thing about London to you?
The diversity is amazing! You feel free and at home because everyone is from everywhere. It is fantastic. And the London underground is one of the best! Pretty clean.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
You won’t believe it but I am not big on bag or shoes. I am quite tall so I am not huge on heels unless it is a small heel but I rather wear a pointed toes flat shoe and bag wise I like small bag or light bags like the Longchamp pliage. I am not hard to please when it comes to accessories but I know what I don’t like.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
I wear my black legging almost everyday. I have 10 of the same, I mea it is comfortable and slims down your thighs.
Favourite love song?
Don’t make me pick! Well I would say Brunos Mars –Grenade.
Best place for a coffee?
I am not a tea or a coffee person. I am more on the icy side. I would go for Costa berry cooler.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
“Shit happens, life goes on”
“ When you fail, start again”
I live by those rules but I am not claiming it is easy.
Hundred percent food! I am such a foodie.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Bahamas, swimming with the pigs
Find out more…
You can catch me on instagram, Twitter and facebook by typing Mimine ag
or go on Mimineag.com