Amelia’s Magazine | Pre-London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Interview: Ada Zanditon and ADZ

ADZ, pilule information pills illustrated by Jess Stokes

Whilst eco-couture has always been ahead of the times in terms of sustainability, it’s often been left behind in the style stakes, unable to compete with mainstream, high fashion. Gradually though, a new breed of designer has emerged who is equally concerned with creating a cutting edge aesthetic as they are utilising sustainable and organic materials.

At the forefront of this movement is Ada Zanditon, whose designs experiment with shape and texture in a way that is unsurprising once you learn that she originally interned with Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh. After establishing her own eco-luxury womenswear line in March 2008, Ada has gone on to raise awareness of everything from eco fashion to politics through the likes of the Think Act Vote campaign. Ada took the time to answer a few questions for us about the inspiration behind her new range ADZ, and the future of eco fashion. ? 

ADZ S/S 2011

You’ve really established yourself as a pioneer of eco-fashion, giving the movement a younger, sexier image than it had in the past. How did you go about this?  
I think that I had two very strong passions that I was determined to make work together – fashion and sustainability. I enjoy the innovative aspect that comes into every part of the process, my main how-to part of it I think comes from a basic viewpoint that anything is possible. It’s equally possible to make a beautiful fashionable dress from an ecological material as it is from one that is not. It’s equally possible to create fashion that considers its full life span and even decay as it is to create something that does not. It’s a question of awareness, choice and aesthetics. 

Tell us about your new collection, ADZ?  
ADZ by Ada Zanditon is the bridging line to my main collection, it’s contemporary, resort urban wear that combines strikingly unique prints with casual yet sophisticated pieces that are focussed around bold geometric detailing in fluid soft fabrics such as tencel, silk jersey and chiffon. The SS 2011 debut collection of ADZ is titled Nebulayan. My inspiration came from creating illustrations of satellite images of the Himalayas mountain range which I then layered with Hubble telescope imagery of deep space nebulae. We now have achieved the technology to see the Earth from space and also to see deep into outer space. I like the idea of contrasting these perspectives with each other. 

ADZ, illustrated by Aniela Murphy

How do you cope with the volume of work and your nerves in the build up to London Fashion Week? Any trade secrets?
I am always aware that I am so fortunate to be in the position to be running my own label, I don’t really want to complain. Everyday always has its challenges, but I try to see that as opportunity. I think gratitude is vastly underrated these days…. don’t you? 

Absolutely! Amelia’s magazine have always been a big fan of your illustrations, any plans to design your own prints based on your work?
Actually, all my prints are based on my illustration work and photography and as well as that I use watercolour then layer all these elements together. ? 

ADZ, illustrated by Natsuki Otani

Musician Viktoria Modesta is your muse; how did you end up working together? You’ll be contributing to her showcase next month; what will that involve?
Soon after we first met we found we had a good creative rapport. I think Viktoria has incredible elegance and style with a real sense of grace. As for the showcase – I don’t want to give to much away but it will be a great evening. 

How do you think the public can be convinced of the importance of sustainability? Do you think there is more designers, magazine editors and celebrities could be doing to highlight its significance?
I only think the planet can truly convince people of the importance of sustainability. I’m sure most people living on the coast of Bangladesh are highly convinced that we need to live in a more sustainable way as they are effected daily by climate change. However, I think that people can encourage and inspire, and have a really good try at convincing. What worries me, though, is that catastrophic events only really shake people into action. I think everyone in every walk of life can do more, no matter what you do.

To see the entire ADZ S/S 2011 collection, visit Ada’s website.
To read more about Think Act Vote, see our interview with Amisha Ghadiali here.

Categories ,Ada Zanditon, ,ADZ, ,Alexander McQueen, ,Aniela Murphy, ,Bangladesh, ,estethica, ,ethical, ,fashion, ,Gareth Pugh, ,Himalayas, ,interview, ,Jess Stokes, ,London Fashion Week, ,Natsuki Otani, ,Nebulayan, ,S/S 2011, ,sustainability, ,Think Act Vote, ,Viktoria Modesta

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Amelia’s Magazine | An Interview with Photographer Vikram Kushwah

Looking through Vikram Kushwah‘s dream-like work, it’s clear to see that the New Delhi-born photographer is a real fantasist at heart. Growing up in a boarding school with the enchanting Himalayas as the backdrop, Vikram’s childhood and love for all things magical has clearly influenced his work today.

Vikram Kushwah Photography
All photography by Vikram Kushwah

Vikram moved to London just three years ago and his career is already proving successful. With three critically acclaimed exhibitions under his belt, not to mention an international artist award and interest from the likes Vogue Italia, big things are predicted for Vikram Kushwah. I caught up with the ambitious photographer to find out a little bit more about his work and the inspiration behind his current book project Memoirs of a Lost Time, a collaboration with writer, Trisha Sakhlecha.

Vikram Kushwah by Estelle Morris
Vikram Kushwah Illustration by Estelle Morris

What first inspired you to start taking pictures?

The fact that photography is a direct representation of reality, yet it almost never fails to lie. It does so by allowing you to stage a setting, something that reality doesn’t allow you to do. It just exists and takes shape on its own. There’s this tension that I’ve always associated with photography and reality. You think of something and a picture is like a memento you keep, to remind you of your thoughts.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

You grew up in a boarding school in the Himalayas. How does your background inspire your work today?

It was a very big school and I had a lot of free time to explore and to read children’s storybooks. I took the stories as real happenings since there was nobody there to tell me otherwise. I was also close to nature and a bit of a dreamer; I was bound to be growing up in a place like that. Every Sunday I would watch tadpoles in a pond for hours, waiting for ‘papa frog’ to turn up and make a big splash.

Students were given a lot of freedom to discover themselves in this way. I saw magic and sorcery as real life, holding a very strong bond with wildlife and the natural world. When I studied the mystery filled art of Surrealism and the romantics’ pastoral, it took me right back to my childhood. Each of these elements play a strong part in my work today; some conscious and some sub-conscious.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

How much of your Indian heritage can be found in your work?

None. My formative years, from when I was two up until sixteen, were spent in a boarding school. Although it was in India it was a typically English school, maybe because it was founded by an English lady during the British rule during 1937. Though I come from a very traditional Indian family, my roots actually took shape at school where I spent two-thirds of every year since I was thirteen.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

What encouraged you to move to London?

It has to be the rich art and cultural heritage of Britain. The exposure, the opportunities to progress, innovate and transform, the resources to learn, the vast open country. All of this creates, within me, a mental space from where I can continue to grow as a photographer and artist.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

Do you think living in London has inspired your work in any way?

There’s so much for this ‘mental space’ to soak up here. The English countryside takes me back to my school days, back to my storybooks about pastoral landscapes and wooden cottages surrounded by forests and meadows, peasants and farmers. I keep looking for a tumbling Alice, ghoulish wolves and evil stepmothers; I sometimes do find them.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

Earlier this year you shot the photography for Hairspray: The musical. What was it like working with team behind the production?

It was a totally new experience. I enjoyed the rehearsals as much as I enjoyed photographing the play. I was left on my own and given complete freedom, and I really enjoyed the space on the balcony where I shot from. The atmosphere was exceptional and one could really see the hard work being put in by the very young actors and crew. By the end of it I knew all the lines by heart!

Vikram Kushwah Photography

Your work tends to combine both elements of fine art and fashion editorial; is there one medium you most enjoy?

There’s a definite crossover no matter how much I want to pull them apart. I have these peculiar ideas and strange stories in my head, which inform my pictures, and they never escape the thought of fashion. Not just in terms of clothing, but also in the sense of time and place. For example, there was this one picture that I only wanted shot with a certain type of Peter Pan collar. Afterwards I knew the picture wouldn’t have worked without it.

There are lots of elements in my photos that act as pieces of information about my work. Fashion is essentially one of them. The information is subject to interpretation and that’s when the mind starts to wander and stories begin to take shape.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

What is the story behind Ofelea?

The Ofelea series is a portrait of my imagination and memories, often twisted by the dark underlying layers of the storybooks I read as a child. The series of pictures is a juxtaposition of the Freudian concept The Uncanny; the constantly recurring mysterious environments in the Surrealist art movement and reconstructions of my distant childhood imagination.

There is an interesting story behind the name ‘Ofelea’. To begin with, my Ofelea had nothing to do with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia is in fact the protagonist of one of my favourite films, Pan’s Labyrinth; this is what originally drew me to the name. During the research stage of my project, I studied both romantic and surrealist art. Here I came across the famous painting Ophelia by English painter John Everett Millais, a co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I learnt that Millais‘ drowning of Ophilea was a depiction of Shakespeare’s very own character, thus bringing all three Ophelias (very co-incidentally) into the equation.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

What was the inspiration behind your new book Memoirs of a Lost Time?

This book project was actually Trisha’s idea. She knows my work really well and we both draw inspiration from similar aspects – escapism, daydreams and so on. We all know what clothes designers make, what song musicians write, but we wanted to know more about the formative days of such creative individuals: the elements of childhood that ultimately inspire their work today. So we set about capturing the memories of their bygone days in our own dream-like style. They themselves feature in the photographs, though nothing too defined. We’ve left the images open-ended – just like dreams and fading memory – yet there’s a strong flavour to each story.

Each chapter takes you into the personal and never seen before world of our subjects, presenting photographs, a short story and an insightful interview. Each section weaves in and out of reality where you begin to drift into a realm of imaginative possibilities, yet always remaining attached to the facts that were. It’s a representation of not only what was, but also a very whimsical take on what could have been.

Vikram Kushwah Photography

What was it like working with Trisha Sakhlecha?

In a way it’s like working with myself. We share a common paradigm in terms of aesthetics. We’re the best of friends too, which always helps. We can rubbish each others’ ideas without hesitation and more importantly the process of storytelling and taking pictures doesn’t feel like work to us; it feels like we’re in a trance. We definitely compliment each other well: she’s the more organised one, whereas I can lift heavy things. It’s a balance.

What can we expect to see next from you?

Memoirs of Lost Time; it’s only half complete. There are some real surprises yet to come in the forthcoming chapters. We’re hoping to release the book mid-2012.
Oh and Vogue Italia are also interested! They’re publishing one of my photographs in their January 2012 issue, featuring London-based fashion designer Elizabeth Lau.

Exciting times lie ahead!

Vikram Kushwah Vogue Italia

Categories ,art, ,books, ,elizabeth lau, ,Estelle Morris, ,Freudian, ,Hairspray: The Musical, ,Hamlet, ,Himalayas, ,India, ,John Everett Millais, ,london, ,Memoirs of a lost Time, ,Ophelia, ,Pan’s Labyrinth, ,photography, ,Sarah Deane, ,Shakespeare, ,Surrealist Art, ,Trisha Sakhlecha, ,Vikram Kushwah, ,Vogue Italia

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