Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor -Men's Fashion Writer
NEW YORK: Swiss designer Yannick Zamboni's 2023 Maison Blanche Collection embodied many full frontal themes; location, body, straight white men issues, abortion rights to women in South America. The late night runway collection was beautifully staged with a series of distinctive and thought provoking looks. The monochromatic collection pushed the creative boundaries of what is collective form in fashion? as well as forcing the observer to questioning how we wear clothing?
Maison Blanche's venue was Courtlandt Alley in the Tribeca neighborhood, south of Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. A place which was anchored by the legendary Mudd Club a gallery /nightclub during the late nineteen seventies and early nineteen eighties. The iconic New York haunt was known for Punk, "No Wave" and was at one time the place for counter culture figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Deborah Harry and Nina Hagen. Courtlandt Alley was the place to have sex, get high or perhaps get stabbed by a Chinese gang member along the notorious, graffiti laden drug den passageway.
Zamboni filled the alleyway with white tarps, gut punching electronic techno music and street light incandescence . The models marched down the wide one block alley some of them backwards to represent straight male oppressive political policies. Zamboni describes it as a “demonstration of a lived reality, in a time where walking backwards seems to be celebrated by society fused with the idea of what could be if we’d appreciated moving forward.” The designer told IRK backstage before the show this was an intentional comment as well as "..you are going to see a lot of skin, your body your choice, we don't need anyone, political or society to dictate that, so its your body do whatever the fuck you want with it "
Maison Blanche, was a richly diverse runway of identities and size inclusion.
Zamboni's draped designs are suspended against the body by straps. elastics and clasps, it's the connective tethering in his design vocabulary, highlighting, legs, crotches shoulders and backs. His silhouettes can appear coming undone almost like a release of sexual heat an unapologetic expression of identity.
He breaks up the body in sections with strong tailored details, in places where the observer is not accustomed to seeing them. He placed welt pocket finishes at the back towards the shoulder. Also seen around the upper body were waist bands and belt loops. Zamboni reworks the craft a finely tailored pair of trousers for the entire body. Where the side pockets would have been is now the location of the armsaye. The mastering of such abstraction can only come form knowing how and being able to nuance the tailoring craft with the skill to obtain new structure and engaging balance. It's this type of evidence within an avant garde aesthetic which catapulted Zamboni to being announced as the winner of Making the Cut ‘s third season, a fashion competition series, hosted and executive produced by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn on Prime Video.
The 2023 offering for New York Fashion Week was in titled "BACK".. was a collection that "promises to challenge the preconceived notions and possibilities of fashion." There many such moments such a swirl of shirting details knotted and draped over one shoulder as well as deconstructed cardigan which looked more like textile based modern art against the body. Zamboni established his conceptual fashion line Maison Blanche in September of 2020 showcasing his signature brand of “queer anti fashion”. The ethos of the brand is described by Zamboni as “queer within the meaning of different, abnormal or not according to expectations. It's subversive content is reflected in the deconstruction and deposition of codes. It forms a side-stream to the mainstream and serves subcultures."
There was color in the collection, first and foremost as a political commentary rather than another fashion antecedent of the season. The green scarf carries the historical significance connected to burden, hardship and honor associated with the struggles of Argentinian women and other Latin American feminists. The context of a green scarf has taken on significance beyond Argentina linked to the premise that "Sexual education to decide, contraceptives not to abort, legal abortion not to die". This was the beginning of what was called Pañuelo Verde the green tide, which has a strong presence in Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Brazil. The right to make choices about your body is the connection Zamboni told IRK he is most sympathetic to. Finding a voice and expressing it, was also demonstrated in the styling of a few looks where the mouth was leashed and gagged a continued commentary connected to struggle.
This collection was a spectacular statement at New York Fashion Week. It's in step with this season's noteworthy ascending designers who are make comments and are speaking out about communities and social justice in the United States and on a global level. 'Maison Blanche’s anti-fashion takes the liberty to create its own unwritten rules completely detached from the oppressive ideas of social ideologies and the fashion industry.'
IRK greatly appreciated the commentary rooted in skill, craft and clear talent. The conceptual thinking and execution seen in Yannick Zamboni's first runway show in New York, not only helped reclaim historic creative urban space, it also connected dialogues of contemporary culture linked to social and political factors. Maison Blanche by Yannick Zamboni debuted with a highly successful artistic expression.