Zazi Vintage

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You will thank me later for telling you about Zazi Vintage. Although Jeanne Zizi Margot de Kroon‘s label is based in Berlin, the Dutch entrepreneur has a global vision to share. She quitted modelling industry after her great disillusion with the fashion world’s unethical approach towards sweat-shop production and decided to oppose chain stores’ and big companies’ continous expoitation of female workers. With the founder’s focus on sustainability and women empowerment, Zazi Vintage respects and embraces traditional clothe-making, using rejected fabrics and old materials. The brand’s seasonless pieces are made by local women from distant places. From the most intricately embroidered Suzani coats from Tajikistan to Ikat woven dresses made by  Saheli women, these pieces aren’t just precious and one-of-a-kind additions to a  wardrobe. Zazi Vintage, with support of Institute for Philanthropy and Humanitarian Development, helps girls fund education and continue their incredible work.

Learn more about Zazi Vintage on their site – click here.

Photos by Stefan Dotter.

Crista Seya

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Crista Seya is a Paris-based, lifestyle brand that’s against the fashion system’s speed and commercialism. Cristina Casini and Keiko Seya, the founders, both have worked for years as stylists for publications like L’Officiel, Numéro and i-D. In 2013, the duo decided to launch their own label with an aim to release “editions”, not collections, of around 15 items – specifically, one edition per six months. No overproduction, no hurry – just a pure, creative process which combines highest quality craftsmanship with  a cool French attitude.

Each edition is the building block for a wardrobe,” says Casini. First edition was all about indigo blue, which came across cashmere knits and over-sized pants. Their latest edition was inspired with ethnic prints of Africa, however don’t expect bold colours – it’s rather about the delicate reference, not the theme of the collection. All of Crista Seya’s editions are available at the designers’ lofty studio in Paris’s Ninth Arrondissement, while stores and customers can pick and choose what they like from previous capsules – whether that’s a blue, masculine shirt, camel poncho or a voluminous sweater from the men’s line. Don’t forget that Crista Seya is a lifestyle brand. In the brand’s selection, you will find ceramic heads created in collaboration with renowned artist, Giacomo Alessi. Coming straight from Sicily, the heads were produced, unsurprisingly, in very limited quantities. Or, there are hand-sculpted combs from Japan that were dried for 30 years, along the traditional techniques. Summing up – Crista Seya defines defiance in today’s fashion industry.

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The Book – Maske

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I am obsessed with ethnic minorities’ culture and costumes – and when I hear that there is a new book coming up about this very specific type of fashion, I am drooling. Photographer Phyllis Galembo travelled across west and central Africa documenting the tradition of masking for his new book / album, Maske. New York-based photographer has a deep interest in costuming and masking in various cultures around the world, and the effect of five year-long photographing of locals at rituals or traditional masquerade events in  Africa and the Caribbean is portrayed in her newly published book by Aperture. There are over 100 photographs of ancient voodoo clothing and masks, coming from such remote places as Cross River region of Nigeria or Kaoma in Zambia. Moreover, it’s worth to mention that Galembo, a white, Western woman, has been travelling alone, and had to negotiate all the permissions to photograph the rituals in pretty uncomfortable conditions. But the result of her long-term project is breath-taking, and the chosen photographs from the book (below) make me already covet this book, and wish to have it in front of me. I wonder if it will be as good as the cult photo-album Natural Fashion by Hans Silvester…

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Designers of 2015 – Stella Jean

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Born in Rome and of Caribbean descent, Stella Jean’s aesthetic is a fusion of her Creole heritage and meticulous, Italian craftsmanship. As a designer who respects ethnical matters, Stella Jean should be praised not only for her breath-taking clothes, but for her idea of giving women and men around the world (from Burkina Faso to Kenya) a chance to do their craft in ethical and comfortable conditions!

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AW15 – At the end of March, I went to Milan to preview Stella’s AW15 – the embroidery, the prints, the colour combinations looked impressive. And what’s interesting, thanks to mixing classical, Italian heritage with the Bollywood-inspired theme, the AW15 collection is absolutely avoiding the word “kitsch”. There’s nothing too excessive about this collection – basically, Stella delivered a set of wearable pieces decorated with mesmerizing embroideries and bold print matchings. These voluminous skirts look so great with the ethno-patterned knits and simple, checked shirts!

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AW15 Men – For autumn-winter 2015, Stella focused on India and Nepal – warm colours, enchanting embroideries and oriental silhouettes appeared not only in her womenswear collection, but also in men’s. The boys look good in this lifey, printed splendour! The kaleidoscopic jackets, hand-stitched pea-coats and turquoise trousers rule. Also, this collection brings Wes Anderson’s emotional Darjeeling Limited mood to the men’s wardrobe.

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Ave Cesaria by Stromae started to beat from the speakers. The ultra-modern venue of newly opened MUDEC Museum striked all of the guests. Just like the absolutely unexpected collection delivered by Stella Jean, the most bold and ethical-fashion thinking person in Milan. Stella Jean’s spring-summer 2016 collection marks the geographical and emotional map on which the main stages of Italian migrant identity are charted. And that’s not all. South America, North America, Africa and Europe are the destinations, that the Stella Jean woman reaches. As the show-note said, “the port of departure, so to speak, is Italy, represented by its sharp, sartorial qualities” – comfortable, wearable silhouettes were visible in over-sized pants and Euro-sleekness of polo shirts. Then, the journey continues, and Stella takes us to Brazil, full of raffia ruffles and Cariocan multi-coloured flounces. The imaginary “travel” itinerary is ready for the next place – the Andes, represented by artisanal and hand-painted motifs including pinatas, daily life of women wearing traditional bowler hats and striped tunics which reflected Andean style.

The ethnical beauty of the collection is contrasted by American varsity jackets and over-sized cowboy shirts, while trench coats and men’s formal striped shirts made a sign of London’s well-known Savile Row needle. However, it is worth to note that some of the fabrics were hand-made in Burkina Faso. Stella Jean and her SS16’s flowing dresses, boxy jackets and “amphora-like” skirts not only made a strong impression, but also felt very right for the current, migration conflict. The collection was like a melting-point of cultures, filled with beauty and creative freedom. Also, it proves that fashion can be politically important.

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Stella Jean Boys

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Stella Jean is the queen of ethnic fashion. Her women’s collections are always way better than many other Milan-based designers fancy shows. For AW15 season, Stella referenced her work to India and Nepal – sunny colours, enchanting embroideries and oriental silhouettes appeared not only at her women’s collection, but also at men’s. I mean, these guys look so good in all that bold, print splendour! The kaleidoscopic jackets, hand-stitched pea-coats and turquoise trousers rule. Although I am not a print-loving person, I would love to wear a few of those pieces on myself.

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