What goes into a name? For Syl( Yanling Sha) the story behind the name of her fashion brand ‘Rue Agthonis’ started with a revolutionary moment in her life. What started as an unfortunate incident, wherein Syl lost her first collection in Paris, became the inspiration for her to kickstart her fashion dreams. That very street ‘Rue Agathonis’ became the first chapter of the Rue Agthonis brand – a testament to Syl’s distinctive vision and sheer commitment to view even the most tragic moments as opportunities for creation.
“The story behind my brand name comes from a personal and revolutionary moment in my life,” she says. “Although it was terrible at the time, I viewed it as a new opportunity for me to start my own brand, and I wanted to take something from the experience for the rebirth of my collections.”
While only a three-year-old brand, Rue Agthonis has already made significant waves in the fashion industry. Rue Agthonis debuted its classical oil-painting-inspired fall line at Shanghai Fashion Week, with an intimate showing planned on the official London Fashion Week schedule this September. Despite the challenges of the last year, Syl is determined to inspire women to make every moment special with fashion. To her, dressing up is the equivalent of ‘loving yourself well,’ and we certainly agree.
In this interview, our Fashion Editor Hannah Tan-Gillies sits down with Syl and talks about the fateful moment that inspired her fashion brand, the ethereal inspirations for her latest collection and fashion’s power to transform a woman and make every moment feel precious.
Rue Agthonis is such a unique name – can you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?
There is a cunning meaning behind the creation of the name ‘Rue Agthonis,’ which stems from a street in the South of France. The story behind my brand name comes from a personal and revolutionary moment in my life.
I was in France in the train station on Rue Agathonis, where I lost my suitcase which had my first collection in it. Although it was terrible at the time, I viewed it as a new opportunity for me to start my own brand, and I wanted to take something from the experience for the rebirth of my collections. I found the name Rue Agathonis so enticing whereas in French, ‘rue’ means ‘street’ and I removed the second ‘a’ from the road Agathonis which turned into ‘Agthonis.’ This was the beginning of my fashion dream and I wanted to include this part of my experience in the creation of my brand.
Rue Agthonis is only a three-year-old brand, but you have already been asked to participate in some of the fashion world’s most prestigious shows. What has been the biggest milestone?
Thank you for the kind words! Although we try not to set ourselves milestones — as we don’t want to limit our creativity or potential as a young brand — we’re very proud of the work we’ve done this year. On the 10th of April, we debuted our AW21 Collection at Shanghai Fashion Week and worked hard to produce an incredible collection and show. From the products, styling, and the entire show’s production, we spent lots of time and effort to create a cohesive show. I feel the proudest and satisfied about this achievement, especially with the warm reception it received on social media.
If you could describe the Rue Agthonis aesthetic in three words, what would they be?
Love, quality, and positive beauty
Tell us more about your latest collection – what are the inspirations behind it and what is your favourite piece?
The inspiration for the Rue Agthonis 2021 line was born from classical oil paintings. We integrated oil painting techniques with clothing production, and injected gorgeous contrasting colours, changing winding lines, and complex romantic decorative elements into the collection.
Costume design and classical oil painting are both artistic forms of expression, and when paired together they construct a unique aesthetic space full of colour, light and shade, lines, and texture. We hope that through the incitement of sensations, the aesthetics of clothing will be closer to the pursuit of sensory joy in the world: a desire for sweetness, the pursuit of happiness, whilst rejecting frugality.
The fringed ankle-length coat is my favourite garment from this season. This style uses sophisticated tweed fabrics, where traditional tweed is woven with a fringed texture, like hand-woven raffia, finished with layers of fringed embellishments.
The large tassels caress the ankles, creating movement and soft rustles with each step, transforming every woman who wears it into the centre of attention at all walks of life.
During the last year, everyone swapped high-heels for sweatpants because of COVID. Do you think now is the right time to reintroduce glamour into our wardrobes?
I believe that they’re comparable. In such a special time, the emotions and encounters between people have become more precious and unique. Taking this into consideration, we want to remind women that every moment is precious, whether it be a family gathering or cocktail evening, and every moment can be embellished by dressing up. It’s never a bad thing to make yourself feel special, when you please yourself, you deliver the message of “love yourself well.”
What’s next for you? Any new exciting projects in the pipeline?
In the second half of this year, we plan to host a small event in the official schedule of London Fashion Week. At the same time, we will continue to run our fashion show at Shanghai Fashion Week. We look forward to seeing the two projects in parallel.
What advice do you have for women who would like to become GirlBosses like yourselves?
In addition to professionalism at work, you can also fun into your work environment when setting work goals, so that in moments of success you can relax and revel in the process of completing your goals.