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Photography by Jamal Nxedlana

Lezanne Viviers: looking at life with curious eyes

She has recurring dreams about treasures and jewelry. She has made magic from off-cuts and scraps of fabric. She has a wardrobe and art collection that is an extension of her quirky and playful nature. I can only be talking about the enchanting Creative Director at Marianne Fassler, Lezanne Viviers. Describing fashion as “an attitude or mirror of who you are”, Lezanne reveals to me how fashion stole her heart and shares memories she has collected while being part of the Marianne Fassler team.

Tell me more about you – How do you like to describe yourself? How do your friends like to describe you? What are your top 5 favourite things?

Six years ago, after successfully applying for two internships, one at Tiaan Nagel and one at Marianne Fassler, I migrated to the city of Gold and Glitter. These two internships were the ‘Golden Circle’ tickets to my yet to be discovered, darling new band: Jo’burg – the city filled with promises and dreams.

I packed one entire suitcase and made my first attempt at ‘surviving’ Jo’burg.For most Capetonians, this might seem a step in the wrong direction!

Having ‘survived’ my first delightful four months, I decided to never move back home. I FOUND home. And so my life began… an energy and heart pulse I could never describe. JOL-burg!

What don’t I love about Jo’burg? This colorful city is not tangible. People are colorful. The streets are colorful. Jo’burg is a collective. Perhaps an abstract noun? I’m not sure what the words are to describe this city. Connected, perhaps?

I am curious and I question things, often to the amusement of those around me. I ask silly questions and stupid questions; quite frankly I ask any question I do not know the answer to. Sometimes I ask Google or Daisie Jo. One thing is for sure; I really don’t know the names of most celebrities, actors, TV series or any other so-called ‘common knowledge’ regarding the entertainment industry. Roxanne Robinson and Anmari Honiball will confirm this.

My mom calls me clumsy. Others might call me lucky; lucky because I still have half of my teeth. These things happen in the City of Gold; sometimes you buy land and you pay for it with a tooth.

I hate to box myself or describe myself and by saying this, I guess I’m doing exactly that. Hate is a strong word. I create objects. I also collect objects – mainly art. Empathetic objects. For fun, I work @MARIANNEFASSLEROFFICIAL as the creative director.

If I knew my ‘Top5’ things, how monotonous would all the rest be? I like to explore and discover themes. I have recurring dreams of treasures and jewelry, things I find accidentally because I’m always searching through the sand.

What is the relationship you had with fashion growing up? Are there any particular moments that stand out for you? When and how did you decide that you wanted to work in the fashion industry?

Fashion and I were always aware of each other. Fashion looked me straight into the eye and said, ‘Hi, I’m the craze.’ From Spice girls’ shoes to bell bottoms to belly piercings to Kangol hats, I drew the Stüssy sign with my eyes closed on all my books and Space Cases. I was aware of fashion. I could see tendencies.

I soon realized that fashion is not only a passing fancy, but It is also a manner of doing things; a method, a way or a style of doing something. It is merely an attitude or a mirror of who you are.

I never really found anything I loved in the shops, the few items I loved was Gotcha board shorts, a black Billabong hoodie, Joe Soap baggy pants, a pleated top from Space Station, a Stüssy t-shirt and gold metallic tipped Stan Smiths, released sometime in the 2000s.

These clothing items made me feel strong and made me belong. I was a Tomboy; I spent most of my time with boys who skateboarded, surfed, who built things, who made mischief- in the innocent sense, of course – and who rode off-road bikes. I power dressed amongst them.

Then I noticed vintage shops. I would not call myself nostalgic, but these out-of-date clothing items gave me a chance to give them new context. I created their context and revived them, without anyone fashioning them in a similar way. I discovered individualism; thereafter you never want to mimic anything or anyone ever again.  I learned its power. Throughout high school the term fashion only existed as an approach.

Other than spending most of my time on the athletics field, high school was defined by afternoons at art school, covered in plaster of Paris or clay. Sculpture was my major and this soon led to making clothes; carving onto my own body. To this day I hate sewing, but DIY cut and paste solved that problem. Next stop, Elizabeth Galloway in Stellenbosch. Fashion design was a natural step to applying my arts.

When did you join Marianne Fassler and how has your journey been as the Creative Director? How have you seen the brand evolve with you taking the reins?

I joined Marianne Fassler in April 2011 as an intern together with Anmari Honiball. What fun! We formed a perfect team; late night sleep overs at Marianne’s, weeks before fashion week. We mainly worked with off-cuts and scraps of fabric we found in the labyrinth called the Store Room. Dresses were thrown together in the most magical way. What do women want? I learned that the answer might be comfort.

Marianne is the most incredible mentor. She threw us into the dark side, which was the storeroom. She taught us the art of selling – ‘a dress is only a dress when someone wants to wear it.’ She encouraged me to start my personal art collection – “All you need to do is buy your first piece.” Perhaps it’s like getting a tattoo, the rest will follow soon. She is a great writer and an even better public speaker. She is also kind, sincere, strict, rebellious, generous and super talented. Most of all, she showed me Jo’burg, the city she grew up in.

Marianne Fassler is a brand with a very strong identity. It is a heirloom brand filled with rich history, intellect, a individual signature, craft as a focus point and a legacy of 40 years, 6 of which I have been lucky enough to be a part of. Honestly, there is a lot to work with, a lot to create from. Marianne Fassler has a beautifully developed handwriting, which miraculously I understand.

Most importantly, Marianne Fassler is an attitude. The brand is about real women, with real feelings, real lives, real bodies and real jobs. I like to combine all of these, with a great sense of humor and ta da… a new collection. Jokes aside.

Marianne and I both love to travel. At Marianne Fassler traveling is encouraged; like Diana Freeland said ‘The eye has to travel.’ These journeys often evolve into a new collection.

If you look at life with curious eyes, you will never become stagnant and bored. Sometimes you need to remove those sunglasses in order to really look, really see and truly experience your day to day milieu.

At Marianne Fassler we share a love for hand-made EVERYTHING. We are both collectors (some call us hoarders) and more so, we both celebrate and appreciate culture. Different cultures, all cultures. Craft and craftsmen mesmerize us. CRAFT is the key to further evolving the brand in the future. We work with best artisans and the most talented team. We always have thought-provoking interns. As a collective, we look ahead.

“My work is autobiographical, so anything I experience, I digest and then vomit back into society,” said Alexander McQueen. I relate to this.

What are some of your personal fashion rules?

Contradict yourself, it suggests personal growth.

How do you describe your style?

Light and hearted. Layered.Like a bull in a china shop.How do you describe your style. 🙂

Would you like to say something about the SA fashion industry at the moment? Anything in particular you have noticed or anything that stands out for you?

Which industry? I’m more interested in what’s going on in the streets.

What are you working on at the moment? Anything in the pipeline that you would like to share with our readers?

Right now, Daisie Jo and I are figuring out how to create lotus pods with beads. Personally, I’m experimenting with chicken feet. All this will form part of our new SS1718 collection, launched towards the end of August. Watch out for unique Marianne Fassler afro-prints.

What direction are you working on taking the Marianne Fassler brand?

Eastwards towards the new rising sun.

You also have an incredible art collection. Would you like to share a bit about your collection and your relationship with art – perhaps would you like to mention some of your favourite pieces and why?

Thank you. My darling pieces are the ones that always make me feel something new. These pieces are layered, either with lots of texture or ambiguous meanings. As part of the flat screen, Instagram generation, I tend to be drawn to the opposite. Marlene Steyn, Georgina Gratrix, Lady Skollie, Troy Makaza, Siwa Mgoboza and Gresham Tapiwe Nyaude, just to name a few, all prick that need.

Or mention how art influences you creatively? Or the importance of young people supporting one another in creative industries?

By experiencing both beauty and intense emotions through exquisitely applied human skills and craft techniques, you experience art. With ‘fashion’ as an approach, rather than a craze, I like to embody craft from an emotional place.As seen at the current Venice Biennale, the craze in the art world is definitely towards craft, to be more specific, towards textiles and found objects, often even used clothing. The lines are blurred, because slow luxury fashion,  is all about craft and therefore becomes an art again. I like this. I hate boxes. Fashion and Art go out for tee where they have conversations about politics or sometimes they just appreciate the beautiful flowers. Cross-pollination is the future.

 

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