There is a slippery something, an intangible something, that sometimes gives the most polished piece of clothing a little levity. A conundrum when we're imbued with all sorts, all the time. No different for the pursuit toward any ideal, the modus-operandi for a shirt is often quixotic, misaligned, half baked and harebrained. Good button downs sure are hard to find.

Though, not impossible. Sherie Muijs was formed out of a masterful respect for pared back authenticity and a craftsmanship refined and revered over time. Designer Sherie Rai has come to reshape the crux of a good trousseau, fundamental to any collection, sartorial step ladders that get you high.

Rai honours both form and fit but ultimately her affinity resides with the wearer, who she knows will treasure these pieces for years. There is a practicality to the cut, a credibility in each abiding stitch and an incorruptibility in the impeccable finish that you rarely ever see.

Classic and epicene, the ingenuity in each understated detail sows the seeds for an archetype of modernity, ageless with it's over dyed silks, cotton and washed linens. Spectacular in it's simplicity.

Where did you grow up and how did that shape your formative years stylistically?

I grew up in the suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand. My family home is a beautiful three-storey villa, my parents have been renovating since the day I was born. My childhood was picture-perfect; Golden Labrador, rose gardens, white picket fence, the youngest of three girls. 

I grew up to appreciate a love for interiors, fresh flowers, friends and entertaining. My fondest childhood memories are of my family on our summer holidays at the lake and aspire to own my own lake house, with a pier and surrounding trees someday. 

Tell us about the other places you've lived and those you've visited that have stuck with you, how are they reflected in your aesthetic and creative sensibilities? 

I have lived in Amsterdam, where my fathers’ family is originally from, studying Design and Styling at the time. My peers were incredibly creative. They worked hard, and played hard. I admired them for the confidence they executed in their work and in the language they would use to describe it. So, although only 6 months this was a pivotal move, leaving me inspired and challenged to connect to my work in a new way. 

I have been influenced by European style, culture and history after traveling through Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland and Germany, and fallen in love with California after visiting Los Angeles last year. 

Tell us what you love about your current home/city and what you could live without. Where would you like to explore next and why?

I am currently living in Berlin. I love this city for its abundant houseplants, markets, public fruit trees and open spaces. It’s a place to explore ideas and allows the freedom to shape these ideas into realities. Something I could live without, however, is German grammar! 

I look forward to exploring India one day. My husband has family high in the Himalayan Mountains near Darjeeling in a small town called Sikkim. The culture is completely different to what I have ever experienced, and know this will be a trip that’ll stay with me forever. 

Who are the artists/authors/auteurs that inspire you? Which experiences, encounters and environments have guided you?

Agnes Martin, Ana Kras, Katharine Hepburn and Patti Smith. I share a studio space with two friends; an artist and photographer, and their commitment to their craft inspires me daily. I am a huge fan of Joan Didion; particularly her autobiographies that tell a touching story of her love and her loss. Then there are the great minds, Sofia Coppola, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson.

I was recently in Copenhagen, fortunate to meet with a Danish potter, at work in his natural environment. I learnt from this experience the importance of the process to design and create, which for him, starts well before sitting down at the pottery wheel. His work becomes an extension and an expression, so if distracted or unbalanced, this will then show in the piece he is creating. This guided me to look at my own creative process, teaching me to center myself prior to sitting down at my desk and when starting my day in the studio. 

What impelled you to design clothing?

I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to be a clothing designer. It seemed like the obvious choice. I was very interested in design and looking back; my sketches were of outfits and photographs were of me playing dress-
ups. Inevitable perhaps.

What are the main elements you look to bring together in a range? 

Balancing and off-balancing, mixing elements of masculine and feminine, hard and soft, light and dark. 

Where is the starting point for you when starting a collection? What influences the action, references and cut?

For me the fabrics, playing with colour combinations, textures and patterns, heavily influence my work. Simultaneously I’ll sketch ideas on paper, thinking first about silhouettes and shapes, before honing in on design details and construction features. Traditional tailoring heavily influences me and I am often looking back at vintage finds for ideas. I then move to the pattern-cutting table where the designing continues and problem solving begins. 

Can you tell us about a favourite piece? One of your own or one from a designer you admire?

The piece that comes to mind is my AW11 Herringbone Coat. An 80’s coat that a friend had found while thrift shopping in Auckland inspired it. It’s incredibly oversized with large batwing sleeves and patch pockets. And because it is unlined there is a lot of work that went into the seams and finishing. I worked on this piece when I was in my element. I had a very close working relationship with my in-house patternmaker and tailor, and I look back over this time with very fond memories. 

What's involved in your creative process? How do you like to work and what kind of mindset or conditions produce the best results?

I begin very slowly, collecting imagery, inspiration and fabric swatches before I design. During this time, I like to work alone, independently collating ideas and inspiration. It’s then a frantic rush of patternmaking, sampling, photo shoots and sales. The best results come when working in collaboration, drawing on others’ skills and working together. 

How would you describe your impetus to create? What motivates you on a daily basis and how do you pacify your mind when you need a break?

I am driven to create by conversations had with inspiring people and reading books and interviews in Gentlewoman and the like motivates me on a daily bases. Simple chores like doing the laundry or washing the dishes help me to unwind. And when I need a break, I like to take a drive to the beach or spend a long weekend by the lake – oh! Just the thought has got me wishing!

Tell us about your philosophy on life love and style. 

Be authentic.