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My Interview with Ksenia Schnaider, Coolest Ukrainian Pioneer of Sustainable Denim

Ksenia, what kind of reflections did you do in this forced vacation time of quarantine? Did it inspire you for some special project?

Ksenia Schnaider: As everyone in the industry I was forced to think about the importance of the digital and B2C sales. We are spending all the time on the lockdown restructuring the workflow in our company. And it was a ‘Quarantine’ in denim challenge! We were also focusing on Donation project for the recycling of the gloves and masks.

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Ксения, на какие мысли тебя натолкнул карантин? Это вдохновило тебя на какой-то особый проект?

Ксения Шнайдер: Как и все в модной отрасли, я была вынуждена задуматься о важности продаж B2C и в онлайне. Сегодня мы тратим все время на реструктуризацию рабочего процесса в нашей компании. И это был челлендж под названием «Карантин в дениме»! Мы также сосредоточились на проекте по пожертвованиям на утилизацию использованных перчаток и масок.

Why sustainability is so important for  Ksenia Schneider?

It just is. Sustainability is not something we went for straight away, it all started with the first pair of demi-denims which we had to make from second-hand jeans. We loved the look and the idea of repurposing discarded items. And just like that sustainability became a part of our identity. In other words, we value efficiency and there are no better tools than good design and sustainability to be efficient.

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Почему экологичность так важна для твоего бренда?

Сустейнабилити – это не то, к чему мы стремились с самого начала, а все закрутилось с первой пары джинсов, которые мы сделали из старых джинсов. Нам понравился внешний вид и идея переработки ненужных вещей. Так, экологичный подход стал частью нашей идентичности. Другими словами, мы ценим эффективность, и нет более эффективного медиума, чем хороший дизайн.

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What is essential for your sustainable aproach?

First of all, the main technology we use is the recycling and up-cycling of the materials. We create digital showrooms and online shows to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. We create campaigns to support sustainability, for example we started a challenge which encourage people to clean our city from the garbage. I regularly participate in conferences on responsible consumption and sustainable approaches. In our office we recycle garbage, we use the reusable tableware (in particular, each employee has their own bottle for water, so employees do not buy water in plastic bottles. We also select modern energy-efficient equipment. 

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Какой эко-стратегии ты придерживаешься?

Прежде всего, основная технология, которую мы используем, – это переработка и повторное использование материалов. Мы создаем цифровые шоурумы и онлайн-показы, чтобы уменьшить влияние индустрии моды на окружающую среду. Мы создаем социальные кампании для поддержки экологии, например, мы запустили проект, который побуждает людей убирать наш город от мусора.
Я регулярно участвую в конференциях по ответственному потреблению и устойчивому развитию. В нашем офисе мы перерабатываем мусор, используем многоразовую посуду (в частности, у каждого сотрудника есть своя бутылка для воды, поэтому они не покупают воду в пластике. Мы также выбираем современное энергосберегающее оборудование.

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What advice would you give to people who want to become more sustainable in everyday life?

Done is better than Perfect. For sure. I hear a lot of scepticism about the amount of plastic everywhere and how it’s impossible to avoid it, but a singe habit of carrying reusable bags to the grocery store is already a big step in the right direction.

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Какой совет ты дала бы людям, которые хотят быть более эко-сознательными?

“Сделано” – это лучше, чем “Идеально”. Я слышу много скептицизма по поводу количества пластика повсюду и того, как его невозможно избежать, но даже простая привычка приходить в продуктовый магазин со своей сумкой – уже большой шаг в правильном направлении.

Why did you focus on denim?

It’s very versatile, you can shape it into anything you’d like. And it’s my favourite fabric to wear.

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Почему ты решила сделать ставку на деним?

Он очень универсален, его можно превратить его во что угодно. И это моя любимая ткань.

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How were born your best seller demi denim?

I remember my friends wearing vintage high-waisted trousers all the time and I started to look closely at them. They were banana-pants from second-hand markets, which are very popular in Ukraine. I wondered how I could re-invent these pants and make them look modern. At the same time I was fascinated by the idea of combining a skirt and a pair of trousers in one cut from my early student years. 

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Как родился твой бестселлер – джинсы деми-деним?

Я помню, как мои друзья все время носили винтажные джинсы с завышенной талией, и я начала присматриваться к ним. Это были джинсы-бананы с рынков сэконд-хэнда, которые очень популярны в Украине. Я задавалась вопросом, как можно сделать их современными. В то же время я была помешана на идее объединить юбку и брюки в одну вещь с моих ранних студенческих лет!

 

What is your dream project?

I would love to collaborate with a big brand and upcycle their headstock int o something unique.

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Проект твоей мечты?

Я хотела бы сотрудничать с крупным брендом и получить доступ к их архивам, чтобы превратить их во что-то уникальное.

 

What are your future projects?

First of all, it’s our shirt project – a line of items made out of discarded fabric patches. We decided to take care of the tons of fabric patches that usually are thrown away. For the Shirt Project we use our own archive. We also want to collaborate with our suppliers so we asked them to send their stock of swatches to produce first samples. Furthermore, we would like to announce that we are ready to re-work any unwanted patches from all over the world. Our own production has been working with vintage and reused materials for more than seven years. We created the special technologies to upcycle vintage garments and leftovers in our studio. Each piece from this line is made by hand and it’s certainly unique.

Расскажи о твоих ближайших планах?

Прежде всего, наш проект с рубашками – это будет линия вещей, сделанных из образцов ткани, которые больше не нужны производителям. Мы решили позаботиться о тоннах образцов ткани, которые обычно выбрасываются. Для проекта рубашек мы используем наш собственный архив. Мы также хотим сотрудничать с нашими поставщиками, поэтому мы попросили их прислать свой запас образцов для производства первых моделей. Кроме того, мы хотели бы объявить, что мы готовы переработать любые нежеланные образцы со всего мира. Наше собственное производство работает со старыми и повторно используемыми материалами уже более семи лет. Мы создали специальные технологии для переработки винтажной одежды и остатков в нашей студии. Каждое изделие из этой линии сделано вручную и, безусловно, уникально.

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My Interview with Giuseppe Zanotti: Creator of the Sexiest Shoes on Earth

Giuseppe, can you describe your designing process: from an idea to the creation of a shoe?

G. Z.: My favourite way is to start from a simple sketch. I would take an empty paper. It’s very important, a white piece of paper. Your ambition is to realize something on it — whatever. And you design a line, simple line (Giuseppe takes a pencil and draws a shape of a high heel shoe).

Beautiful, you’ve made it in five seconds!

G. Z.: It’s not a technical sketch, it’s just a line. And you know that after 2 hours you can always add something to it: metal, or flowers, or diamonds, or nothing. Or you can do a flat version of the same shoe. So this is the first exercise: to put your ideas onto a white paper. Then you need to write a story for your shoe, like for a movie, to insert it to the whole marketing strategy. And then the realization begins: you need to find materials, shape it, develop first prototypes, cut the leather, do the stitching and then correct it with scissors in hand made mode. And then, if your blood becomes worn by people, then it’s a good shoe. If not, it’s just garbage!

Do you have some hobby apart from your work, like sports, art, hunting?

G. Z.: I’m a bit allergic to sports. I even don’t care about football too much, unlike the majority of Italians. Sometimes I exercise though, about 2 times a week, but it’s always a torture for me, and my coach is my enemy who wants to kill me because I’m cancelling my appointments all the time! I do like art, and I visit lots of museums while travelling for work. I’m inspired by the past and history. I’m collecting contemporary and photography. I also like nature: at home, I have an organic biological garden with cucumbers, watermelons, salad, eggplants and olive trees to produce my own oil. I’m happy when I’m close to nature and animals.

Do you think that photography is real art? Who are your favourite photographers?

G. Z.: I think that photography is a unique medium to catch the atmosphere, the soul, the blood. A good photo should stay with me like a friend, I like having it at home to find inspiration in it all the time. But I don’t appreciate something too strong or too raw. For me, Helmut Newton was a great artist; I find lots of power of women and love in his work. I admire Richard Avedon for elegance as well. I also enjoy a lot the work of my friends who are famous Italian photographers, like Maurizio Galimberti and Carlo Benvenuto.

How do you choose photographers for your ad campaigns?

G. Z.: First of all, they need to capture what your product represents, to render the mood and the idea of the collection. Creating an ad campaign or a look book, it’s always about teamwork. You should have a good art director and stylist to transmit the concept behind the collection, and the photographer needs to have the right sensibility: if the collection is about 1920s, jazz & night, the photographer should be able to shoot in this mood, and also research this vibe in the archives to get into the right aesthetics.

Can you name some well-known people who inspire you and whom you would like to be compared with?

G. Z.: I don’t want to be compared to anyone, but in fashion, I respect a lot the work of Martin Margiela for his purity, Thierry Mugler with whom I worked, Azzedine Alaia who I was lucky to meet many years ago. But it’s not about the fame — I’m inspired by all the people who are strong and who have personality. I also admire the normal people who love what they do, people from the streets — like those who love to cook, or carve wood, or do some construction works for my house. In Italy the hands of people represent real value. We respect expertise and tradition. Simple values of real life: this is where I jump when I’m exhausted by the fashion system.

Which superpower you would like to have?

G. Z.: My superpower would be going to the past with time machine and see the world which was less contaminated than now: the sky was wider, the water purer. We need to educate the population to respect more this crazy planet, and use this lesson that life is giving us now in order to learn something. Using this superpower, I would travel to Rome, Lisbon, Beijing, but also all the small cities of Italy, which are all precious with their castles of XI century. Here in Italy we have 3 000 years of history behind us: the Romans, the Etruscans, we have them in our blood. And, of course, I would take my mobile phone with me and come back with lots of pictures!

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What’s your favourite place in the world?

My living room! When I’m tired after work trips (Milan – New York – Miami –Milan – Rome, etc), I adore being back to my living room, to and my dog, the remote control and a glass of Nebbiolo or pinot noir wine.

Could you describe your brand in terms of values?

G. Z.: Giuseppe Zanotti has good and bad things about it, like all the other brands. The bad, for me, is having too many ideas: I would like to be more edited! The good thing is that we really think a lot about adapting the design to the needs of a woman, trying to give also the comfort when she’s wearing 10 cm of stilettos. We engineer our shoes to give the pleasure of wearing, good shape and stability. Also, my shoes do last!

I can prove it: I bought my first pair of your shoes about 5 years ago, and they still look like new. This is also very sustainable: shoes that last become a good investment.

G. Z.: Yes, I was always thinking that fashion shouldn’t be about throwing your money into a garbage bin. It’s interesting that nowadays I often see my shoes of 20 years ago in vintages stores. And I buy them, to have them in my archives, to learn from the crazy and ambitious ideas that I had in those times.

What is the best piece of advice one can receive in the fashion world?

G. Z.: Keep calm, relax. In fashion everything is fast and furious; everyone wants the things be done immediately. And also people often dream about working in the fashion sphere to get the taste of this privileged world with its atmosphere of luxury. And it’s a wrong approach. To work in fashion, you need to learn seriously: study materials, colours, stones. You need to be experienced. In fashion, you should work with passion and patience.

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Fine Art photography of Juergen Teller

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One of the similarities between Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, Céline or Yves Saint Laurent? Juergen Teller.

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Какая общая черта между Марком Джейкобсом, Вивьен Вествуд, Селин или Ив Сен Лораном? Юрген Телер

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This 55-year-old German fine-art and fashion photographer has more than succeeded in providing what designers look for in editorials: uniqueness, elegance and personal touch.

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Этот 55-летний немецкий фотограф изобразительного искусства и моды, более чем преуспел в обеспечении того, что дизайнеры ищут в передовых эдиториалах: уникальность, элегантность и индивидуальный подход.

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His photographs have appeared in more than one magazine over time, and we know why! Working with celebrities, artists and fashion houses, his work was recognised by many.

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Его фотографии появлялись в более чем в одном журнале в течении времени, и мы знаем почему! Работая со знаменитостями, художниками и Домами мод, его работа была признана многими.

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His almost decade-long collaborator, Vivienne Westwood, celebrated their work in an exhibition that was held in New York, celebrating their 10-year campaigns, both label-related and personal.

Он почти десят лет сотрудничает с Вивьен Вествуд,  и недавно они отпраздновали их  совместную работу на выставке, которая была проведена в Нью-Йорке, празднуя 10-летие ихних кампейнов, связанных с лейблом как личной жизнью.

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His work can be summed up in a simple sentence: a treat to the artist’s eye. Sit back and enjoy.

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Его работы можно подитожить в простом предложении: удовольствие для глаза художника. Сядьте поудобнее и наслаждайтесь.

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