DC interviews Alessio Zero

Alessio Zero, the young up and coming designer hailing out of Perugia is set to unleash his brand of fashion on the world. Now in his third season of label Layer-0, full of energy with an unyielding attention to detail, his work reflects the kind of craftsmanship that is void in much of the work dispensed today. He has a love for leathers and his collections show it. He has worked leather into his knits which are all done by hand as only hand-knitting leather and yarns can produce a superior product. His work is comprised of pieces fabricated from leathers such as horse that are produced for him in limited quantities. His patterns are intricate, very well thought out and possess a complexity that is far too easily overlooked.

The construction of the pieces I have seen are absolutely wonderful. They are as beautiful on the inside as out. Has this kind of perfectionism in execution always been an attribute in the endeavors you've pursued?
Yes, I think ever since I began my technical studies years ago, I have felt this quest for perfectionism present in everything I do. Now, I succeed to manage all my artistic passions by expressing them fully within the project of Layer-0. Architecture, photography, painting and music are all elements contained inside of every piece of clothing I create, which claims 120% of my attention.

What moment in your life was the pivotal instance in which you decided to dedicate yourself to a career in fashion?
The passions of the world of fashion were always inside of me, but it was only at the end of my technical studies that I began to dedicate myself to the path of a ‘modellista’ and creating a fashion house at the same time. From the first prototypes and tailoring studies I had with an affirmed master tailor in Perugia, I succeeded in creating a collection I felt expressed who I was, which was my first step inside the world (fashion) system.

For your first collection "defile", you did a presentation where masked models walked the runway, clutching a rope as a guide. What was the idea behind this presentation?
When defining my work, I like to talk about complementary sensory relationships between a garment and the person who wears it. Founded on this concept, the defile of the collection “feel your touch” was based on 3 principal details: the mask, which symbolizes the conditioned blindness of the individual, the sound characterized by media noise representing the feeding of daily information to the individual, and the rope seen also as the sense of touch, indicating the only point of reference in the carrying on or continuance of our true ideals in this manipulator society.

Is there a singular inspiration and story behind each of the collections that vary from season to season for you thus far?
It’s difficult to speak of inspiration before the designing of a collection. Places visited, the study of times past and cultures new to me are all essential contributions that shape my approach, but it is in my moments of solitude that I succeed in attaining a vision of it.

So what would be a one sentence summation of your philosophy that would help others gain insight into who you are as a designer?

The world does not need copies.

This interview can be found in its original format in the Scoute archive section.

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Interview With Michel Berandi

Excerpts from a conversation with designer Michel Berandi and Sartorialoft's David Choi for Scoute magazine.

Michel Berandi is a designer who does not adhere to the conventional. His works appear to be products of a fantastic lucid dream. This may be the singular reason his line sold out in a shop when Cirque du Soleil had encountered his work. His emotionally charged and refined designs are tempered by an intuition that has been honed by years of experience in the industry. Though he is uncompromising in his approach to design, he understands the need for accessibility. This is the ideal that gave birth to the MB999 line, which is available in addition to his more aggressive main line.

Michel is one of the few individuals that gives freely of himself. Whether it be his spirit poured into his design concepts or his soul for an interview. So to transgress from the norm, I think in this case, getting familiar with the man would grant greater insight into his work than simply meeting the designer's persona. Welcome to a conversation with Michel Berandi.

Michel. How is it that you perceive humanity?
Nature's weakest species of animal, yet one which wields the most force. A breed whose instincts have been displaced by intellect and whose intellect is totally devoid of intelligence. A mass of contradiction.

So do you feel we are progressing or regressing as a whole?
The world has progressed technically and scientifically with enchanting speed, also we live in the most peaceful and most prosperous time in the history of mankind and yet people are more intrinsically unhappy than they ever have been. We have more personal liberty than we have ever had in the entire history of the world, to an almost absurd degree, and most people are still feeling the influence of oppression and tyranny. I wonder what conditions these people would have to have in order to feel that they've true liberty. I don't understand it. I think it was in the 1950's, Charles Darwin grandson, Charles Galton Darwin, wrote a book entitled "The Next Million Years." Essentially he said that this is the best that it's ever going to get and the only way that it could go was down. There's going to be over-population with apocalyptic results and that you better enjoy this period of peace and prosperity while you can, because it won't last forever. Just look at the numbers, with the numbers of human beings, logistically, it just can't continue in this direction.

That's pretty bleak. Haha. Didn't know you embraced the old Malthusian logic. Well, given the current geoeconomic situation. What role do you feel fashion plays on the global stage and what is its impact?
I think that fashion has severed into two distinctive classes just as the eco-social classes have. There are more and more poor people, who are by priority oblivious to fashion design and for decent reason, but whose freedom of choice to consume is more and more controlled not only by the money in their wallets but mostly by their primal social environments. There‘s enough in the market for people of both classes to truly express who they’re as human beings, but they just don’t. Then you have the social elites who also are controlled and manipulated by its social environment even though they have the money to freely express their individuality. People need to feel loved and accepted, rich or poor, so their consumerism is fuelled by social-status quo label-dictatorship or existential void and lack of passion. Anyway, my point being that having cash or not doesn't necessarily make you someone with great style or someone interesting to look at.

What are some key experiences in your life that had shaped your point of view as a designer?
The Damned’s gig in London circa 1978/79. My first screening of Alejandro’s Jodorosky’s The Holy Mountain and Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour. Those provided compelling wallpaper for the mind, but my deepest key experiences are mostly literary. Aldous Huxsley for precision, Allen Ginsberg for flow, William Blake for beauty, Ed Sanders for smartness & coolness, Anthony Burgess for linguistic joy, Fredrich Nietzsche for historical vision and Frank Zappa for weirdness. Issac Asimov and the Marquis de Sade remain perhaps my favorites overall. But what I like most is journalism, especially when it involves science and engineering. I also like incendiary political writings and propaganda. I like religious fanaticism. I like encyclopedias, dictionaries and almanacs. I hate comics. I hate dirty writing. I hate any writing associated with Rock Music. I like newspapers and magazines and advertising. I love the sound of people talking, because they actually sing-and essentially in a strange way that has become the main poetic source of my designing works.

I like the way you think. What is it you turn to when seeking inspiration?

Going to the zoo and observing animals and insects. Exploring flower shops as well. Books on art and architecture and human anatomy. Music of course. So many creative ideas can take shape from those experiences. Sometimes ideas, at least the decent ones, don't show up at all, I then escape in the company of good friends to enjoy great food and wines. Previously in fashion there has been Hitlerian Nouveau and Stalinist Deco but I don’t think there has been a sincere styling understanding of the greatest iconography of the modern age. There has been no true mix of the occult and science. That art has either lacked viable social purpose or has existed in only one dimension for one particular cause. The Michel Berandi label has generated some heat due to that integration but ultimately people are opting for safer forms of expression to wear. However, most pieces of the collection produced eventually sell out and become a collector’s item. Its likes Hardcore music- we make our own milieu and fortunately its approximating Pop culture in the same way Black Flag approximated Black Sabbath.

What is it you hope to accomplish with your contribution to fashion?
Fame and fortune! Nah... just kidding Dave. For almost a diabolical decade 1995- 2002, I edited and published Panik Magazine, an Outlaw Pop Art magazine in opposition to both the underground and the establishment. It was a forum for extreme ideologies and inclinations, manifested as political pornography, psychosexual terrorism, scientific threats and infernal texts. It was graced by contributions from the best artists and writers in America- famous, infamous and unknown-each driven by unusual passions to excel and influence and go all the way. I would like my work related to fashion design to be perceived as an improvised answer to the hogwash of the day, and my association as being analogous in practice to what was happening in hardcore music in the early 80s': do it yourself, make your own medium, ignore authority, function over form. In fact I have hoped that I would be perceived as something like a rock band- an art group in the tradition of Metal Hurlant, something that could be subtitled "Journal of Preventive Sociology." A fusion of realism and surrealism born in frenzies of beauty and anger: An outlaw, liberal, fascist, sci-fi time bomb. A pornographic fusion of social hygiene and surely decadence.

You have been working in the industry for some time now. What made you decide to branch out and start your own line?
It's an interesting question to me personally and one I have asked myself before. If I recollect correctly it was out of necessity and survival. It was the first job that came to me when I was looking for work six or seven years ago. This girl I worked for made custom-made clothes for rock stars. She needed help. I needed a job. It's that simple. I took that job and took it a bit further I guess.

A designer's life is very demanding. What happens when you are between collections?
After a collection is completed and finished there is nothing. Emptiness sinks hard. Teeth grind deep from creative imperfections.

So how do you fill that void we call time when you finally have some to spare?

I don't create. I study and learn and absorb-and practice. I watch and wait for art to get real, for Science Fiction to become fact and for people to get smart. Needless to say, I get disappointed. So, I try to spend a lot of time on the moon and a lot of time underwater. I learn how to make love and how to hate.

This interview can be found in its original format in the Scoute archive section.

© All rights reserved.

Sartorialoft's David Choi interviews Damir Doma for Scoute.

Born in Croatia and raised in Germany, Damir Doma studied fashion in Munich and Berlin graduating magna cum laude for “best collection” in 2004. He then moved to Antwerp, where he was mentored under Raf Simons. In 2006, he ventured out on his own and launched his label.

One might be inclined to think that such a young designer would be destined for hardship. However, this young designer possesses all the talent, ambition, passion and vision needed to succeed. He has that brooding intensity that an artist needs to keep pressing forward. More impressive is his ability at such a young age to harness these attributes effectively. He is full of self-awareness and always in the moment, which seems to grant him the ability to stay in a perpetually serene state while looking forward. A maturity and a balance that is uniquely found in the interpretations of masculinity in his clothing.

Menswear is typically focused on structure, you seem to separate yourself from the conventional practice.

I have no interest in 'classic' menswear. I guess because I approximate the typical styling of men's clothing to be like that of a suit of armour, which tries to hide something. My concept of fashion is more of a focus on what lies underneath the physical material. I believe that beauty has to find its way out from within and the clothing must be an extension of the soul. Clothes have to be soft and loose. Thus allowing your body and your soul to feel free.

The world of fashion has always been prominently a women's market, yet you have opted to focus on menswear. Is it to reshape menswear for the reason you just stated?
Not necessarily. I've been working in menswear for quite a while now. But my philosophy is not exclusive to menswear. I also have a deep appreciation and interest in women’s wear. The gender for which I create is really of no importance. In 2003, when I started to work on men’s clothing, it was just much easier to stand out from the masses.

I think you’ve been successful in your goal to stand out from the ‘masses’; both for your designs and your use of fabrics. You seem to favor lighter fabrics. How much of a role does fabric selection factor into your approach to design?
The materials are a key point to my work. I create very fluent silhouettes, which require very soft fabrics. The materials are the foundation upon which I build.

So speaking of the influence of mediums. It is known that you are an avid appreciator of the arts. In what capacity do the arts influence your work?
I try to absorb as much inspiration as possible before I start working on a new collection. Art provides me with a certain emotional background, which i need; but sometimes it's very difficult to say which artist inspired me at which time. I see myself as a hard disk in that respect. I try to fill myself constantly and retrieve some of it when it's needed.

Do you dabble in areas of the fine arts?
I have a personal interest in painting, but I am particularly attracted to photography.

So do you feel that fashion design satisfies your artistic need to create completely?
I would say so. I am in the fortunate position to create beyond the confines of clothing. The job of a creator is to imagine a whole new world of his own and bring it to light. So I am in the position to create all the things that are "Damir Doma". It might be perfume, music, a showroom or an art exhibition. I believe the opportunities I have to express myself are limitless.

If not a designer, what other career path would you have taken?

I love to create. I really don't see myself as a fashion designer, so much as an artist working in fashion design. So I’m happy where I am.

What was the initial lure of fashion that prompted you to pursue a career in the field?
There was actually no lure! My mother was a fashion designer. I grew up surrounded by fashion from the start. It is something that is very familiar and comfortable to me. It was just very natural!

A natural progression towards pursuing fashion which led you to Antwerp, to work with Raf Simons. How had that experience shaped you and your perception of design?
I have to admit that during this period I found a new approach to fashion. It was with Raf that I experienced fashion on a deeper level. Beyond thinking merely in terms of style and colour. I discovered that clothing is a very abstract means of expression. What I mean is that my interest goes further than just making a nice piece of clothing. There are stories told behind the clothes.

You introduced a female to the runway donning your design. Is there a story to that or were you possibly alluding to the introduction of a women's collection?
Haha. I couldn't deny the impulse to do so. My wish is to introduce a women's line in the near future. I’ve actually been busy working on women's wear for a while now. So I guess I just couldn't wait to show it to the audience.

And finally, what is the one thing that you would like for people to take away from their encounter with your clothing?
The aesthetic value is obviously the driving point in terms of the initial response I seek. But I'd also like for people to take notice of the quality and complexity in the patterns. And what is of utmost importance to me is that the person who wears my clothing, ultimately feel 100% comfortable in it. I want people to experience the clothing knowing great attention has been given to the quality of the materials and to understand the beauty within the clothes.

This interview can be found in its original format in the Scoute archive section.

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