We give you an exclusive sneak peek of Ada Zanditon’s eerie yet ethereal fashion film to mark the launch of her couture line
Ada Zanditon: where do I begin? After graduating from London College of Fashion in 2007, she went onto launch her eponymous fashion brand and showed her debut collection at Fashion Scout’s One to Watch London Fashion Week show in SS10. Since then, she has continued to show at Somerset House as well as at Berlin Fashion Week. Ada and her label have been showered with awards, and she has judged the ethical award at Graduate Fashion Week in 2013. Oh, and did I mention that she’s also one half of the creative brains behind dark and sporty menswear brand Ada + Nik?
But when having two fashion-forward clothing brands, a string of prizes and a cult celebrity following isn’t enough, what’s a girl to do? Just the small matter of launching a couture label.
And this is the point at which we meet the fashion phenomenon that is Ada Zanditon. Having teamed up with Fiona Garden from The Fashtons (the art direction team behind recent music videos for WIFE, C.A.R. and Polar Caps), Ada Zanditon is giving us an exclusive preview of her kaleidoscopic film to accompany the launch of her couture line. We’ve also nabbed an interview with the multi-talented wunderkind herself. So kick back and enjoy.
What made you want to launch into couture as well as ready-to-wear?
I guess the time for investing in my greatest passion finally became a reality. I have been making couture garments since before I created the Ada Zanditon brand and I have continued to do so as well as designing my ready-to-wear collections. Last year I also launched the menswear brand Ada + Nik with Nik Thakkar and that has really taken off. But I have had the opportunity to prioritise and think about what area of the womenswear business to expand and the Ada Zanditon couture and bespoke concepts allow me the most freedom to innovate, express my core vision and grow while also being good business.
Do you see your couture creations as an extension of your ready-to-wear vision, or are they completely separate projects for you at the moment?
There are aesthetic narratives that overlap such as my signature sculptural silhouettes, but the process and creative construction is completely different. Couture is now going to be the main brand activity of Ada Zanditon which I’m going to balance with the Ada + Nik menswear alongside other creative collaborations, consultancy and illustration.
Wow! You’re a busy lady. So what are the inspirations behind this couture collection?
I am always inspired by imagining the persona of a Baroque warrior goddess and using the idea of who she would be as a divine feminine archetype. Also, when I was on holiday in the States I went to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and met an inspirational marine biologist who studies sharks called Li Ling Hamady. She inspired me to look into the structure of shark skin at a cellular level. This research then prompted me to experiment with cell-like shapes and create garments made from ornate cells of laser-cut leather, manipulated and hand-constructed to form the opulent organic silhouettes.
Can you talk us through the couture pieces in the film?
I selected the four dresses that embody the core concept of the collection aesthetically, so there’s a contrast between sculptural exoskeletons and fluid silk tulle, which I chose to embellish with Preciosa crystals. The couture pieces used in the film also represent my signature use of monochrome contrasted with metallic highlights.
What techniques do you use to create the different 3D textures of your couture garments?
The techniques and the process for creating the garments had to be invented with my team in the atelier because of how unique the approach to creating each piece is. First we experimented with the shapes in card and once we found a form that worked we then laser-cut them and used a variety of hand-tooling techniques to twist the leather into the ‘cells’ that we used to form each piece. We also used layering techniques with fish skin leather cells and hand stitched and braided the silk tulle layers. The team and I are passionate about our craftsmanship.
So did you have an idea of what you wanted the accompanying film to look like before you started working on it?
I wanted the film to be like looking through a window into another world, or multiple dimensions of space and time. I wanted it to have a really ethereal and otherworldly quality whilst still being in an architecturally unique location. We actually filmed it at the ME London Hotel. I knew that director Fiona Garden would be the best to realise this and evolve it visually with Ben Ashton’s artistic input.
What was shooting the film like?
I was lucky to have a very strong core team for the film. We’d all previously worked on the couture salon show at London Fashion Week, and so everyone really understood my vision of the collection. For example, I regularly work with make-up artist Michelle Webb and hair designer Oscar Alexander, so they designed the look for both the show and film. The film’s star – Caitlin Curran – is my muse and right hand woman, so naturally she had a strong understanding of how to portray the character and it was really a case of standing back and enjoying how Fiona and Caitlin worked together.
How does the film reflect and complement your clothing?
Fiona and Ben came up with the idea of filming through various wands that Ben created, fragmenting the image to give the illusion of seeing into multiple parallel worlds. I love this effect of tessellating the image because that perfectly reflects the construction of the couture.
Who would you most like to see wearing your couture?
I am really drawn to strong, confident and unique women such as Jennifer Lawrence, Saoirse Ronan and Rooney Mara. I’d love to dress FKA Twigs and Banks as we listen to them every day in the atelier.
Words: Samantha Southern