A recent graduate from Central Saint Martins, Ziv Gil Kazenstein inadvertently laid the foundations for his menswear collection long before he began studying fashion. Hailing from Natania, Israel, the print wear designer describes how at age 17 he spent two years making, creating and painting in a commune before moving to London in search of an outlet for his creativity. An outlet of which came in the form of a foundation course at CSM and later, a BA in fashion design, which he attributes to a week spent working under legendary fashion illustrator, Will Broom.
Honing in on menswear and inspired by nature, Kazenstein used the alpha male as a starting point before finally cultivating his collection around the baboon - constructing whole jackets out of feathers to build exaggerated masculine silhouettes and continuing the ominous theme onto shirts and trousers in wishy-washy prints. We spoke to Zin about his work and thought process behind the collection.
Dazed Digital: What attracted you to menswear?
Ziv Gil Kazenstein: I did the pathway Fashion Print where we got to design our own prints, print the fabric and make the garments out of our own textiles. At the beginning I kept on designing garments for women, but by the end of my first year I realised that I’m much better at designing for men. I feel like I have a better, clearer view of who my man is when I research and design garments. Although in my placement year I worked mostly in women’s wear designing print and embroidery, I also had the chance to do menswear at Viktor & Rolf.
DD: Your pieces are pretty complex, where do you start when designing a print? And then how do you piece the whole look together?
Ziv Gil Kazenstein: It always starts from researching and sampling. In this collection part of my research was Jewish textile and I wanted the main print to be stripes. After about a week I became bored of it and started to play with it and shred it and that’s how I ended up with those big shredded organza coats. The whole idea of the collection was to create ‘Alpha Male’ looks, big masculine boys.
I remember when I started to play with those embellishments on the mannequin and fitting model I kept on saying how I want my boys to look big and strong like baboons and then I was like-yes baboon! And that’s how I started to illustrate those apes and baboons prints. Some of the print techniques I used were really fast and I’m a fast drawer so I did have a lot to choose from and play with.
DD: The looks have an otherworldly aesthetic, what was the inspiration behind the collection?
Ziv Gil Kazenstein: The inspiration for this collection was my family tree. I love the diversity of cultures and nationalities in my family. For example, I was born in Israel but my dad’s side is from Germany and my mum’s side are all Kurdish Iraqis - so I was bringing all those different cultures together, mixing them and the idea was to create a hybrid tribe.
Part of my research was looking at the Jewish communities in Germany before the war and I found some great images of Orthodox Jews of that time. Through further research I discovered the Kurdish warriors. In every image I found they were always dressed in different prints and furs and looking very proud.
DD: If you could style anyone who would it be?
Ziv Gil Kazenstein: I’m torn between Cee Lo Green and Courtney Love. But I would also love to dress Snoop Dogg.
DD: Now you’ve graduated, what are your plans?
Ziv Gil Kazenstein: Luckily I got the chance to do a freelance illustration job for Christian Louboutin, but besides that I’m looking for a J-O-B
DD: Finally, what’s the best thing about fashion?
Ziv Gil Kazenstein: Freebies!