by Kevin Vaughn
Photos by Adrien Levinger
The life that Adelaide Aronio has created for herself in Buenos Aires can be described as the product of following a string of instinctive whims. It began in Paris: she met a boy from Argentina and decided to change her plans of moving to San Francisco to come to Buenos Aires, a city she knew absolutely nothing about. She learned how to screen print and, with zero experience in business, began printing t-shirts and designing handbags under the name Bill&Bill to sell in Buenos Aires and Paris. A brief trip through Northern Argentina with her parents changed her aesthetic completely. She began obsessively drawing mountains, llamas and coya hats. Three years later that quick tour through the North has become the defining characteristic of the project. We sat down with Ade and her wild dog Bill and talked about her constant journey into the unknown.
Where are you from?
What did you do before you moved to Buenos Aires?
I completed a bachelors in literature, and one year of “prep work” at an art school where I had an introduction to interior architecture and design, clothing design, graphic design, and in that moment I fell in love with graphic design. So I followed that path. Two years later I had a diploma, and worked as an intern for a graphic design studio but I realized that that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. School was so much more creative! And you also didn’t have to deal with the demands of clients (laughs). So when I was 21 I went to Buenos Aires to get out of Paris and study a little more, here I learned serigraphy and created Bill&Bill.
How did you choose Buenos Aires?
I met an Argentine in Paris. If I hadn’t met him, I was thinking of going to San Francisco. No regrets at all! I arrived in January, the cold Paris winter behind me and was greeted by a crazy city in the middle of summer. I fell in love with the city immediately, the onda, the people, everything really. Buenos Aires just has something…
So than it was pretty spontaneous, what did you think about the city before you came here?
Nothing really, I didn’t know anything. It was truly a trip into the unknown.
But you fell in love immediately?
Yes. I liked the people, the immensity of the city, you always discover a new place. La onda, which is a word that doesn’t exist in French, how easy it is to start things. The truth is that I love so many things about this city. I have lived here for three years and I am always finding new things that I like.
Are there things that you miss about Paris?
I miss French cheese! And of course my family and friends.
Did you come with the intention of creating a clothing brand?
No, not at all. I came to study. Really, I don’t want to define the brand as a ‘clothing brand’, because then people will think that I do fashion and that is very far from what I actually do. Yeah I make t-shirts and sweatshirts, but I also make pillows, a lots of different purses, bags and notebooks.
How did the brand get started?
I couldn’t tell you! It just did! I didn’t think about it a lot, I never studied business or marketing so there wasn’t a moment where I spent months doing calculations to see if it would work or not. I did my first collection and sent it to France for Christmas, my sisters and my mother organized a sale and with that money I did a second collection that was sold in stores in France. Little by little it has grown.
Your designs don’t have a whole lot to do with Buenos Aires but more to do with Northern Argentina, or maybe even a little bit of Bolivia or Peru, or am I making things up? What do those places mean to you?
Absolutely. I fell in love with designs from those areas, the mountains in Salta. The last collection had a lot to do with them [the mountains], and I like the collection a lot. I sell a lot in France, and so I like to bring a little bit of that feeling to Europe.
Have you traveled around those areas?
Two years ago I took a trip with my parents and I really want to go back. It was a family vacation, I’m not really sure what came over me but I felt a lot there. We went to Salta, Purmamarca, Humahuaca, Salinas Grandes and Jujuy, those are the ones I remember. The landscapes stick out in my memory more than the names. I look at photos from that trip all the time, the landscape just does something to me.
Can you pinpoint some things that really caught your attention?
The landscapes, the people, artisan work really strikes me, there were such wonderful things that a lot of work went into. That really touched me.
You did a different collection before that trip, what were the things you designed before?
I drew a lot of song lyrics and texts. I made a lot of collages that mixed drawings together, I also really liked stencil work and stitch work. This sort of stuff. If you really want to know I have it all on my personal blog, but they are really old! I drew lots of mountains, and took photos, recently I’ve started using a film camera and I love it.
How do you go developing a new collection?
At my own pace! What I mean to say is that before I thought that I had to do everything like the ‘big brands’, autumn-winter, spring-summer. But I realized that the people really liked stuff from previous collections, obviously it is a small brand and someone might discover a design I did in a previous collection. If someone asks me for something from a previous collection, I like to be able to have it for them. The idea now is to do things at my own rhythm. I’m trying to get rid of all the nervousness that comes with having a collection, selling them, it really kills the creativity. I add new things when I want to, a new design, limited editions. I’m re-organizing the entire brand so I guess the answer is that I develop things a little lazily! (laughs) I just realized that!
Check out Adé's website to stay up-to-date on showroom events.
Also read other Extranjero features, #1 with Paz and Estefanía from Chile, #2 with Evy from the United States and #3 with Gabi from Mexico.