Stephanie Zaicew is one to watch. Fresh from travelling around Europe and only 19 years of age, the fashion designer and vintage stylist’s seductive, mysterious pieces have gained her a following across the globe.
She is currently in her second year, specialising in fashion, at the Whitehouse Institute of Design Australia. Her current collection is full of dark, provocative pieces that exude an enduring and timeless appeal. Inspired by Film Noirs, Stephanie Zaicew is drawn to provocative pieces, that are highly embellished. The young designer is more concerned with creating beautiful, flattering garments rather than launching new transient trends. Schön! sat down with the designer for a full insight into her world.
You’re a fashion designer and vintage stylist. What are you working on with your current collection?
The collection is based upon capturing the essence of the femme fatale, the typecast of the seductive, “deadly woman”. There is a darkness and mysterious allure that I aim to explore through their stories. Expect the combination of contemporary fabrics utilized with authentic vintage/antique fabric and styling pieces.
Your designs have an elegant, femme fatale style. Do you think it is important for your designs to exude a timeless appeal?
I grew up spending lots of time with my grandparents, and my grandfather would always be watching old films – particularly Film Noirs that I grew to love. Due to this, I’m instinctively a nostalgic person; I’m drawn to the idea of the past and constantly latch onto the heritage and history of fashion and its enduring and timeless appeal.
You use striking photographs that exude provocation, what is the story behind them?
When designing, I not only design garments. I think of a story and look at the world that’s created from it, the woman who’s wearing the outfits and design the clothes to go around them. Part of fashion is selling a dream, and that’s the element of which I draw upon. I enjoy the fantasy of the mysterious, theatrical world.
Before shooting my most recent collection, I dug into the history of the location and discovered it was built in the 19th century, intended as a setting to display wealth and culture to suitors. From this, I was drawn to the idea of the femme fatale enticing her potential suitor… the rest I’ll leave to the audience to interpret.
What designers do you get inspiration from?
Historically, I have and always will have quite a penchant for Christian Dior, Madeleine Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli. Upon recently discovering my Russian heritage, I’ve become interested by the likes of Russian designers, in particular Ulyana Sergeenko and Slava Zaitsev.
How has traveling overseas in Europe influenced your collections?
Europe is essentially a completely different world in comparison to Australia.
Gazing up at these monumental, extravagant artworks and architecture – I was inspired by the baroque and rococo splendor of 17th and 18th Century design – by incorporating devotionally precise hand beading, embellished lace, velvets and tapestry within my collections.
You are currently pursuing a Bachelor of Design, specialising in fashion at the Whitehouse Institute of Design Australia; do you think it is important for designers to study fashion?
It’s very competitive for young designers. Everyone’s in the race to be the most contemporary and up to the minute with their designs… I believe it’s important to not only gain the multitude of skills necessary for the industry, but to work alongside fellow upcoming designers and set yourself apart from the rest.
Where do you see your brand going in the future?
For now I plan on traveling back to Europe to work on more collaborations, who knows where my travels will take me!
Zaicew’s most recent collection has been published internationally in fashion publications, including in Vogue Italia. Next on the list, the designer is travelling back to Europe and working on different collaborations. Be sure to click the links below to keep updated.
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