At the 2019 edition of the GTBank Fashion Weekend held in Lagos, South African designer, Lezanne Viviers showcased some exciting pieces that got the audience ecstatic.
The fabrics are unusual just as her designs are sculptural. They come across as pieces hewed out of drapery of eternal beauty.
In April 2019, Viviers launched her stand-alone eponymous brand in Johannesburg, with a collection of limited-edition pieces and made-to-order garments. Her surroundings, as well as textiles, influenced the designs. The collection was a fusion of collaboration and introspection; each piece is handmade and takes anything from a few hours to a few days to create, sometimes weaving fibres to get new fabrics. It was a bold and structured collection inspired by colour, flora, texture and art.
“It is a concept clothing brand which is not particularly focused on men or women,” she tells me after her show at the GTBank Fashion Weekend, but mainly on an individual. We take pride in the making of the garment, so I like to work with best quality fabrics and finish the garment most elegantly, and spending time in the actual making of each piece that is out there in the world.”
In her latest collection, she collaborated with a visual artist from South Africa, a painter who delved into psychology and did a psycho-analysis of all the different versions of individuals. These are themes she explores in her painting.
“I think that is something in my capacity that I am so interested. There are so many versions of me; from the morning when I wake up till in the evening when I go to bed. So, the two of us try to find an easy way to collaborate as a designer and as a painter, and we started moulding. And the first sculpture was a natural process of exploring these things. When you look at the collections, you will see if sculptural forms inspire it and that was interpreted into wearable and accessible pieces which you will also see on the runway.”
She says all her clothes are limited editions and numbered. On the inside of each jacket are the numbers engraved.
“It is essential to communicate this to my clients that it is a slow process, and every single person is as important as the others to create this beautiful product. As a concept clothing brand, I love collaborating with artists and working with artisans to the making of the garment. We collaborate, visual artists, artisans amongst others,” she explains.
Her designs are inspired by art and nature. Hence, she collaborates with the artist on the form and texture of her collection.
“It is challenging to put it into one thing. I am a big art collector and follower, so art is essential to the brand. We often work with artists. I am inspired by the things I surround myself with, in my day-to-day living. I am inspired by the arts, beautiful flowers in nature and architecture. I love to get back to nature and look at ordinary things. Such that beauty can be transferred back into a design.”
She says the person who wears her brand is someone “that doesn’t fit into any box. It is a position of masculinity and feminism. It is back to the individuals appreciating beautifully made garments.”
With a firm understanding of the peculiarity of the anatomy the individuality of her clients, Viviers is poised to the continent by storm.
“I have had wonderful feedback about my brand. I have had people coming to me saying it was different from what they have seen in Nigeria. We work for individuals, and I take time to understand women and men’s bodies. The concept is always everything.”