Lezanne Viviers
Lezanne Viviers
Image: Eva Losada

Lezanne Viviers is an interesting talent to watch. Her Viviers collections are philosophical discourses made to make us think about the current world, the past that produced it and what the future might hold.

Her latest In Our Elemental collection - shown with her third appearance at SA Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2024 season and as part of the Fashion Bridges project with the Italian embassy - was a futuristic commentary on the interconnectedness of all beings and our collective potential.

She works with juxtapositions in her tailoring and fabrication, presenting sophistication against a grungy rebellion, soft materials against textured details. Her designs are avant garde, sculptural and sustainably made. The conviction of her voice invites one to look at her work and listen to what the clothes say.

What is your design ethos? 

Viviers was created as my preferred artistic medium and as a solution to help fill my interdisciplinary needs. My background in art, specifically sculpture, photography and ceramics, is combined with my love for collecting rare and unusual vintage textiles and art.

I chose clothes as the expressive medium in my creative process as an artist. I rarely found clothes that fully embodied who I am, so I decided to make my own.

Clothing is my medium to explore and express this inner duality; to dress is the act of balancing myself. I love to mix opposing textures; organic, hand-spun, handcrafted, naturally dyed, natural materials are offset by my inner love for responsibly sourced, plastic and synthetics. 

Clothes are my language, where words fail me, they help me to communicate and reflect on my own sacred African context.

Why are the themes you explore through design and process important to you?

As an artist, my work is frayed between the conceptual, the philosophical, the qualitative, the aesthetic and the methodical. I use my practice, Viviers, for contemplation and reflection to deepen my understanding of the mystical truths of the universe, seeking practical solutions that fire my curiosity to re-culture a beautiful way forward. This is never an approach in isolation, but one of synchronised partnerships and collaborations.

Photography is the initial lens through which I study form and matter, space and time. My field notes are sketched in the form of photographs and little poems that could later form the substance of a new series of both limited editions and/or unique works of clothing. 

Our work aims to fossilise the synergy of the best of SA’s artists and artisans, using responsible, luxurious SA raw materials, with a universal in-born message that stems from our shared origin stories.

Viviers, In Our Elemental collection
Viviers, In Our Elemental collection
Image: Eva Losada

Your garments on the runway feel like conversation through time — futuristic yet borrowing from the past and rooted in the present. Is that the intention? 

“Future Fossils” is an idea our brand constantly explores. How can we reimagine a new culture, a new human race, a race re-born from the ashes of division and strife and pollution? 

Imagine a world where plastic, instead of a disposal, undervalued material, is elevated to the status of silk, gold or wool. 

Visionaries like Credo Mutwa and Plato remind us that we are all united and interconnected, we are star children. 

Imagine artists co-operating with artisans, all grounded through our shared sacred geometric building blocks, to reimagine a post-pandemic architecture.

Can you speak to your approach to genderless clothing in your use of fabrication and tailoring? 

Viviers’ clothes could be considered a sculptural juxtaposition of sharp, traditional masculine tailoring and more organically draped, flowy items, often associated with conventional femininity. The interplay and constant balancing act between these extremes are further explored through our mismatched fabric choices; organic and natural fibres, directly offset by technical and industrial fabrics, like upcycled nylon or reclaimed plastic.

These unexpected hybrids and combinations narrate our unique stories that are birthed from SA soil, yet with topics that could be projections into the future.

Viviers at SA Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024
Viviers at SA Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024
Image: Eunice Driver

What are your sustainable goals?

Our team of creative, specialised and experienced tailors takes great care in making collectable and limited edition pieces, that could also be ready-to-wear or made-to-measure. Meticulous consideration and attention to detail and quality go into all the items we innovate.

The Shokunin spirit of Japan not only inspires our approach to conscious making but also translates into our Japanese way of pattern-cutting. The very simple and squared Origami-style pattern approach is the most effective way of saving fabric, allowing for almost no waste. 

Our artisanal, made-to-order model allows for sensitively tailored pieces that are made to fit and last well. Our approach is zero-wastage, and any leftovers are reimagined as innovative new materials, upcycled as appliqué, cut into strips for weaving and knitting or used as other forms of embellishments.

Beyond this, we firmly believe that the inclusion of advanced and innovative technology like 3D printing, laser cutting and digital printing plays a key role in finding alternative and ethical manufacturing solutions and preserving and protecting our natural resources.

In the age of technology and AI, craft and innovation, infused through the human hand, is the highest form of luxury.

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