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Navigating Cultures, Art, and Fashion with Zuzanna & Olga Kozlowska

Zuzanna & Olga Kozlowska draw from life to create a deep, optimistic understanding of the world around us. Born in Poland, raised in Australia, and living in the USA, they explore visual patterns and communicate in ways that are uplifting, unifying, and beautifying. What is life for than to make it simple, and more beautiful for each other?

The subject matter of their work began as a detailed study of human anatomy which has been both a reflection of their aim to master their craft as well as an expression of an interest in human experience. Realism has now been mostly removed from their work, as they now aim to bypass the conscious visual response and inspire a deeper impact and understanding of their concepts. 

Zuzanna & Olga’s practice has relied heavily on creating line work that reflects and provides insight into human thought and emotion in a positive way. To do this, They’ve explored the impact of color, shape, and form and how it provides an experience that is thought-provoking and uplifting.  Their background in psychology comes through the way they seek to dissect human complexity with a visual simplicity and remain committed to a positive artistic commentary. 

What continues to fascinate them is how visuals can triumph over language in their impact across cultures and their ability to reach our core. Traditionally trained as a drawer, Zuz has remained a keen student of line and form and utilizes its principles when seeking to simplify. Their medium of choice has moved from 2-dimensional paper to 3-dimensional fabric sculpture, metal sculpture, and installation work. They spent a period visually illustrating human energy and natural energy (fire, water, etc.) concerning the impact of how natural energy visuals affect humans. Now, they visually dissect topics of mental health and explore ways of discussing it with a positive impact on my audience.  

In studio practice, they seek new ways for my fabric sculptures to increase their weather resilience, and continue to innovative fabric forms as my unique contemporary art form. At the same time, they expand into greater expertise of a personal style in metal works to continue to create large-scale, permanently placed pieces that can be appreciated through the test of time.

Working globally, you can be sure Zuzanna & Olga will be in your corner of the world.

IRK: At the core of Zuz there is an Aussie-born mother-daughter duo, when did you both first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion together?

Olga: Ever since Zuzanna was a child, we have enjoyed designing clothing together, visiting fabric stores, and creating things to wear. My husband and I owned and managed a family fashion house back when we lived in Europe and it was bound to continue eventually! 

Zuzanna: I had always been impressed by my Mom’s designs. As time went by, I realized how fortunate I was to be dressed by Olga, and how Olga’s work could be something that more people can delight in. 

Olga: The collaboration was created when Zuzanna independently developed her visual art style and began to work with my fashion designs, painting on them. It became clear how our two talents, merged and created a separate and unique product that they became excited to share with the world. 

IRK: What is Zuz’s mission in fashion?

Zuzanna: The mission is to make people look and feel like a work of art. The company began, with the idea of creating single-edition, wearable art which celebrated people’s uniqueness and beauty. Such artworks utilize a beautiful silk canvas designed by Olga and are hand painted by me to capture a person’s unique ‘energy vibe’ which is an art style that I have been developing for several years. As we launch their ready-to-wear collection, we have expanded our mission to ‘raise the energy in the room’. We take great care to create comfortable, elegant, and exciting pieces that excite the eye.

IRK: For the Spring/Summer 23 collection itself, I know that there’s some fine art influence and a variety of silks, velvets, and ultra-luxe sequin velvets. Can you tell me a little bit about your inspiration for the designs and the collection itself?

Zuzanna: The theme for this collection (Spring / Summer 2023) was inspired by the firebird flower. Olga is an avid gardener and lover of plants and found inspiration in the dramatic shape and colors of this plant in her garden in Australia. To us, these flowers are a great example of extravagant beauty, existing naturally.  

Taking that concept further, we wanted to give people the ability to be the bird of paradise this season, in a natural yet spectacular way. And also, for the viewers of our clients, to give them the enjoyment of being dazzled. We have always loved working with silk for its natural qualities, its ability to retain paint archival, and its elegant luster. We often work with velvet for its similar, yet less delicate qualities, and sequin velvet is a new fabric for us in the last season. We love its ability to reflect light and literally, dazzle. For the collection, we wanted to address not only special occasions but more casual ones, with our flair and mission statement. So there are more casual shapes merged with fun, elegant fabrics, and items like fur bikinis and long velvet skirts that are charming and comfortable at the same time. It’s still bold to wear these items casually, but they feel just as comfortable as less extravagant pieces, and we love that. 

IRK: Tell me a little bit more about the hand-painted pieces in this collection.

Zuzanna: My passion has always been drawing and painting, and we are very excited to bring a product to market that is a wearable fine art product. I have always been interested in depicting the human form, and I was studying classical portraiture in New York when I noticed my tendency to create these unique, wave patterns in response to the people I met. Soon, I had grown a large collection and found a voice in the fine art of visualizing energy vibes. It was through this desire to share this style with others, that I began painting on Olga’s clothing. Giving people the opportunity to select a ‘vibe’ to be painted on their gown and to have a piece of clothing that commemorates their unique spirit has been difficult for them to communicate in the market, as it truly is unique. Everything from the methods used – which is painting after garment construction and around the body for continual flow (unlike printed fabrics) – to the inspiration it draws from, and the expertise of the person who creates it (I hand paint each garment myself), makes them truly one-of-a-kind, and once-in-a-lifetime works of art to acquire.  

IRK: Do you have a favorite piece in this collection personally?

Olga: Love the long tulle vest with an embroidered bird of paradise, flowers, and leaves. To me, it is versatile to be worn over a variety of other pieces (coats, dresses, skirts, or on its own), adding a touch of celebration and uniqueness. 

Zuzanna: I love the bright yellow, fluffy mini dress – it looks like a joy to her and lights up the room while being fun and comfortable to wear. 

IRK: In a time of such hardship for our Earth, how do you incorporate sustainability into your design process?

Zuzanna: Sustainability is an important issue for us and we focus on slow fashion, timeless pieces, and quality craftsmanship, so our work can remain long-lasting and archival. We started our brand with a range of bias silk slip dresses that were originally designed by Olga over 20 years ago, which we love to wear year after year, and they always feel and look exquisite. Such classic, flattering styles can be worn in many ways and we like to offer them as legacy pieces for everyone's closet collection. It is also hard to beat the touch, drape, and brilliance of silk satin. The addition of having it painted in your favorite color and pattern makes it an everlasting treasure in your wardrobe. Silk being natural fiber, is also easy to recycle. To reduce costs of energy consumption and transportation, we produce locally, employing skilled dressmakers. Most of the production elements are made in-house (patternmaking, cutting, sampling), which means there is a smaller footprint in energy consumption. We are a family business and we rely on our talents and energy in building this brand from the ground up. 

IRK: Can you discuss any initiatives or projects you have undertaken to promote sustainable fashion?

Zuzanna: Creating single-edition wearable art encourages people to want that one, special, everlasting dress that’s just for them and about them, versus buying many fast fashion dresses.  

As for our perspective on sustainability, we communicate and encourage investing in: 

  • good design that is flattering for your body type

  • using mostly natural fibers that are easy to recycle

  • buying local brands  

  • Sharing or exchanging your clothing with girlfriends

IRK: What do you want the collection to communicate to the women who are wearing it or to the people who are seeing them in it?

Zuzanna: With the painted dresses, our aim is for our people to share their vibe! Or share a vibe of their choice and enjoy expressing that individuality all around them! With our ready-to-wear collection, similarly, we want to elevate the energy in the room and make people look and feel like a work of art. And additionally, to make them feel beautiful and extraordinary like the wonder of nature that surrounds us.

IRK: What is next for you? What are you working on now?

Zuzanna: I am constantly working on sharing what we do with the world so that people can wear our designs, as well as furthering her fine art studio practice. I am working with new concepts and materials that relate to energy and fluidity in the same way as wearable art.  

Olga: I am working on a winter collection that will focus on using qualities of wool fabrics that keep us warm for many years. I am exploring indigenous peoples’ traditional use of wool fiber in their daily lives and ceremonies.

IRK: There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers just starting and hoping to make it in the industry?

Zuzanna: The fashion industry is very competitive but there is room for the “original you,” which is different with every generation. You cannot please everyone but there will be a crowd that will appreciate your ideas. Be a conscious human and conscious designer and have fun so that you can sustain your brand! 


All Images by Jayme Thornton

Creative Director: The Cannon Media Group   



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