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Ada's Ethics

Dazed speak to the architectural fashion designer, Ada Zanditon about her radical pieces

If, for whatever reason, Ada Zanditon’s career as an ethical fashion designer came to a grinding halt, she’d be an architect. More specifically, she says, she’d be Zaha Hadid. For all her career involves dressing avant-pop stars like Bishi and Patrick Wolf and for all she’s becoming acclaimed for the theatricality and futurism of her vision, nevertheless, you can kind of believe this. There’s an architect’s discipline and structural precision underpinning her work, as well as an impressive gift for lateral thought – while other designers find inspiration at the disco or the gallery – Ada’s S/S 10 collection comes straight from the beehive. 

That collection - showcased at the Freemasons’ Hall as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout - is titled The Colony and provides an elegant distillation of both her creative vision and her environmental principles. Opening to the thrum of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, it was inspired by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum’s A World without Bees, a study of Colony Collapse Disorder, a contemporary phenomenon which decimates communities of bees and is a Very Bad Thing.  The clothes used structures of tessellating hexagons to create volume and shape. The most radical pieces had surfaces warped with half-formed polyhedra, such as the monochrome shift dress with a prismatic surface or the dramatic six-cornered neckpiece and miniskirt; other pieces were honeycombed with hexagonal cut-outs or laced with stark geometric prints.

Named last week as the recipient of one of the British Fashion Council’s Esthetica mentorships, Ada will be receiving business advice and support from Bev Malik, renowned former buyer for Browns. Her designs currently retail at bleeding-edge Soho boutiques Digitaria and Beyond The Valley.

Dazed Digital: Tell all about the bee thing! Are they your favourite insect? Why did you choose them as the central idea of the S/S 10 collection?
Ada Zanditon: I love insects but bees really have my attention at the moment because we are exploiting them yet they are essential to us. I read the book A World without Bees which firstly explains to the reader why Bees are so incredible and what it is they provide us with – pollination – a third of all the food we eat and much of what we wear. It was upon discovering the mathematical complexity of the hive, the structure and order they create as a colony that I found the theme of my collection: To design like a bee and then introduce elements of chaos and disruption exploring visually the fine balance of a natural system and the breakdown of order. 

DD: What changes would you like to happen in the next decade to make the mainstream fashion world become more sustainable? What do other designers need to do?
AZ: My vision is to create innovative desirable fashion that has the added value of being sustainable. It is important to me to do what I believe in and hope that that inspires other/future designers to think that way. I think that there increasingly like-minded designers out there, both on the fringes and in the mainstream. Vivienne Westwood is an excellent example of mainstream fashion’s awakening to sustainable design. 

DD: Give us a clue about AW10. What are you reading/watching/listening to which might inform it? Do you know what form it might take yet?
AZ: Oh no! This is the bit where I wish I was a bit cooler.... The truth of the matter though is that I spend my spare time watching TED talks and reading up about fractal geometry... I don’t have a TV but I love the BBC iplayer... anything with David Attenborough really! I love looking at images of the earth as seen from outer space...

DD: What’s your favourite book/artwork/record?
AZ: I have a slightly schizophrenic taste in music so it includes Rhythm is a Dancer by Snap! Everything by Kylie or Moondog’s Symphony by Moondog.  Moondog is one of my heroes, a really unique individual who performed his incredible music on the streets of New York wearing a Viking Costume. He was a true innovator and created music that spanned many cultures and genres whilst always being recognisable.
My favourite book is a pop-up book for children called One Red Dot by David A Carter – its pop-up origami is integral to my vision of form and colour. Art is a huge part of my inspiration and I prefer exhibitions to magazines. The current Anish Kapoor exhibit is sublime experience. It’s the grown up version of the pop-up book! He is one my favourite artists.

DD: Are there any other current designers (operating in London or elsewhere) you feel a particular kinship with?
AZ: I really appreciate Dean Quinn’s work; it was a pleasure to show alongside him in The “Ones to Watch” show with Vauxhall Fashion Scout. I love the work of my friends: Christopher Raeburn, Fred Butler, William Tempest and Orschel–Read.