Perhaps the unofficial slogan of Fashion Week: it takes a lot of effort to look effortless. So when the first look of Zana Bayne's spring/summer 15 collection, Moonbathers, glided out to Chris Isaak's haunting Wicked Game at Milk Studios last night, I tried not to let its easy bliss distract me too much from appreciating its intricate details. Inspired by the shimmering reflections of moonlight on bodies of water, Moonbathers marks a softer-edge for New York's first lady of leather, whose meticulously handcrafted leather accessories are subversive, strong, and sexy as hell.
Where last season featured hard-edged, bondage inspired silhouettes with pronounced hardware, this collection sees the evolution of Zana's leather expertise into an unexpected softness. Laser cuts, perforations, and intricate cut-outs gesture towards lightness, a new take on the themes of strength and femininity for the designer. "For the last collection I used a lot of chain and fringe, but wanted to try something different this season," said Zana. "There are a few pieces I call the 'fishnet harness' looks, which are hundreds upon hundreds of hand-cut, hand-pressed straps. So there's a lot of love that went into this collection. I love taking one shape and pushing it to the next level, adding a little more embellishment and seeing where I can go from there. But I also love having those more minimal, classic pieces to go back to."
In addition to further developing her leather language, Zana took the same meticulous approach to the pieces' additional detailing, translating the moonlight motif through crystals: "I had the idea to start working with some Swarovski detailing, especially because of the idea of moons, stars, and reflections on water. I wanted to get a little bit sparkly. The challenge for me was working with a material that's not leather, something that's completely different, in the same way that I would work with leather. I do love a good Swarovski sparkle moment!"
But it wasn't only Zana's leather pieces that brought the collection together. The designer relied on a network of friends and collaborators to contribute to her vision: "This collection was a total labour of love from many different hearts. My dear friend and amazing designer Norisol Ferrari made all of the white shirting and the white dresses, skirts, and headwraps. We've worked together in the past, I've made some pieces for her, so it's sort of a natural progression. Chris Habana is a dear friend who I've known for years, and we collaborated on the collection's jewellery, which carries over the moons and stars motif. It was like the perfect touch on top of everything else."
For a collection capturing the romance of surfers gliding on the water by moonlight, Zana's post show state-of-mind was all too appropriate: "Now that it's all over, I feel like I'm floating."
Text Emily Manning