From the moment Swiss designer Yannik Zamboni hits the screen on the 3rd season of Amazon’s MAKING THE CUT, viewers were treated to one of the most interesting contestants on a design competition series in years. Statuesque and always clad in his signature white futuristic designs, Zamboni approach to fashion was unlike anyone else. In this exclusive conversation with IRK, Zamboni explains his unique take on and how he brought avant-garde to mainstream TV.
IRK: Your mission statement for the brand states your belief that clothing can address socio-political issues. Can you elaborate on how fashion can help bring awareness to modern day issues?
Yannik: Fashion can be used to follow socio-political behavioral patterns or to represent something exactly the opposite. Quite simply, you can attribute blue dresses to boys and pink ones to girls, you can consider leather extremely harsh and tulle feminine. Or you can wear dresses, skirts and tulle as a man and raise questions in society only when wearing pieces designed for another gender. This is exactly the behavior Ikeep in mind when designing.
I don't want to design in a binary system, so I mix the codes assigned to one gender and create all gender inclusivefashion. Any socio-political issue can be transformed into fashion. Fashion communicates and raises questions. That is what I want to do. Color, fabrics, and clothes should not be assigned to one gender. That’s old fashioned.
IRK: You describe your work as conceptual—describe what this means to readers who might only be familiar with traditional design.
Yannik: When I begin to conceive a collection, the concept comes before the design. My concepts are always based on socio-political themes and respond to my questioning of design.Questions as simple as “why don't men wear skirts?" or morecomplex ones like "why is society and politics dictating whether someone can have an abortion?” Such questions are the core of each collection and are researched and translated into fashion.
IRK: Your design aesthetic seems to be more avant-garde, were you apprehensive to have your introduction to the world on such a mainstream platform as the reality competitionMaking the Cut?
Yannik: Yes, I was but I also saw the incredible opportunity it was. I was able to explain my designs and convince the judges (and thus the audience) over several stages and not only on the very first day. In addition, I quickly realized that I was standing in front of a jury of experts and that they understood very well what I was doing.
IRK: Are you competitive by nature? Do you thrive in that atmosphere, or do you prefer to work alone?
Yannik: I love working with others who think similarly to me, it spurs me on and I appreciate the direct feedback.
IRK: How did your time on the competition contribute to your design aesthetic? Did it change your design vision/style?
Yannik: I would say that in a very short time I have learned to create an accessible look out of a runway look. Until now, I never had to ask myself if something was accessible, I have just created what I wanted. That's what I learned on the show, and it has helped me extremely as a designer.
IRK: In bringing the brand to the public what do you wish to convey?
Yannik: I would like to change socio-political rules of conduct.
I want the fashion business to value people and labor more.
I want fashion to function in a circular way and not to cause harm, neither to people nor to the environment.
I want to be the change or drive the change that I want to see in society.
IRK: What do you think is missing in the designer market?
Yannik: People who deeply care, I wish there would be more.
IRK: You will be debuting your latest collection this upcoming NYFW—Why did you decide to show in NYC?
Yannik: My first time in the US was filming for Making the Cut and I felt comfortable right away. I also received extremely good feedback from people on the street about my style. I addition to that I think that in NYC, especially at Fashion Week, there are not many designers anything similar to what I do so I think my chances of being noticed are higher than if I would show in Europe.
IRK: Are you going to follow the established fashion calendar? Or are you going to be working on you own timetable?
Yannik: Basically, I like to work under pressure with a fixed date as a goal. But I don't work with seasons, and I don't know yet when I will show my next collection. I guess I will rather work with my own timetable.
IRK: What can you tell us of your upcoming projects and collections? What direction is the Maison Blanche brand going in for 2023?
Yannik: I don't like to plan too much and prefer to let things come to me. But two big goals would be a complete Cradle2Cradle collection which is in the biological cycle (everything biodegradable) and an all-gender inclusive collection. I would like to collaborate with other designers and established brands.