Fiona McCoss talks all things exotic with women's wear designer Zoe Twitt.
Originally from Australia, this 26 year old designer has cracked the international fashion scene, finally settling in New York to make her assault. Having grown up around the world, she has been exposed to different, exotic cultures which unavoidably have inspired her creativity, setting her up for life to produce and market some of the most seamlessly, exclusively hand-made garments available in the industry.
Her Winter2010 collection features a quirky and inventive use of cut out shapes and zips, revealing subtle peaks of the female form beneath. Knits, sheers, and the ever New York friendly "black," embellished shoulders with natural gems and stones to offset the moody tone with a sparkly, natural feel–not too false or flashy, but in keeping with Twitt’s sophisticated, urban style densely incorporated into next season’s line. Velvet tunics, slashed leather leggings and Italian wool-silk jersey– this designer has combined every material into an amalgamation of perfection.
She took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions, revealing her dreams, inspirations and how her life and unquestionable talent has set her up for unending success.
You've had the privilege to travel around the world as a child, which country would you say was your favourite, or most inspirational?
I was very lucky to have been able to travel so extensively while I was young and still developing in so many facets. To be able to absorb the colors of the cultures and the textures of the exotic fabrics and the history of each culture's fashion is the best gift ever. There is such a wealth of art out in the world and so many worldly explorations both modern and historical that artists can draw from. I feel like that was the best gift my parents could have given me and I still feel like there is such an abundance of knowledge and inspiration I don’t use and haven't yet touched on.
I suppose I was mainly inspired by Asian culture and history, particularly the sense of ritual and tradition in wedding dress. I was also inspired by the colors in Jaipur. The silks are fantastic. When I was 15 I spent two weeks in Thailand and designed a few pieces to be made by a tailor there using their colorful Thai silks and some fashion magazines for inspiration. The textures were magnificent! When I was 14 I lived in southern India and became enamored with the jewelry of the region. I love anything ceremonial. I love Chinese antique pieces too. This is all a glimpse into what I'm working on for spring 2011...
I also notice the differing street clothing around the world and how the culture affects the trends. I think different things inspired me at different times and my style was ever-changing. I was constantly finding a different rhythm and sometimes I was trying to make a statement to people. Style doesn't need to be consistent. You can express almost anything just by what you wear. I studied the semiotics of theatre when I was at university and I think this is an overarching important inspiration, too.
At the tender age of 26, you are very young to have cracked the fashion industry. Would you say your age has played to your advantage or disadvantage?
I think the age thing is a double-edged sword. I look extremely young and there have definitely been times that people in the industry have looked at me and at first glance they have assumed I am fresh and know very little. I like surprising them.
The other edge of that blade is that if you do not start when you are young you are not considered fresh. It is like acting in that way, people want you when you're young and if you do not succeed young, like Alexander Wang or Zac Posen, then you really feel like you've failed. I hear this from designers all the time.
Having progressed from one side of the arts to another, what made you make the switch from acting to designing ultimately? Would you ever go back to acting?
I literally woke up one day and decided I wanted to design. It had always been in my mind but it never seemed like the right time. I think at some point you have to just dive in without looking down. If you look down you will get spooked; especially right now when things are a lot more of a gamble. A lot of labels are just in survival mode right now, so it definitely has been an interesting and challenging time to begin.
I would still work in acting again. I love it so much! To date, I have no time for that but if I have a free moment in the future, then I hope something presents itself.
Would you say you have a muse?
I love designing for the woman's body. I am a woman and I want to feel confident! When I design I think about what flatters the woman and how she wants to feel in the clothing. I think she wants to own her sexuality while not being constricted by anything physically. This is why I favour stretch. I use an Italian wool/silk blend jersey for the basic pieces and adorn them with zippers or other details.
So my muse would be the woman’s body. There are some people whose style I love but from them I take more of an inspiration of "mood." While creating "Dark Heart" I was listening to a lot of Bat For Lashes and Goldfrapp (her second album) so there are definitely nuances of the occult. That inspired the crystals which are sort of spiritual but have a sense of rock and roll to them.
Who would you say is your most influential designer?
That's hard! Today I want to go with Martin Margiela. I have been staring at his work above my desk all morning. His work is sculptural and sometimes he has a sense of humour but also a sense of darkness and of theatre. That is what fashion should be-it should really belong to the artist. Margiela is not afraid to create truthfully. I think his work is very wearable, though I know a lot of people don't agree
Where do you see yourself and your ever expanding brand in 5 years time?
We are launching a more complete line of accessories next season. Then I hope to create more outerwear. I think diffusion is the way of the future. You have the ability to reach more people in a diffusion label. Next season there is more of a disparity between what we are creating. One line is diffusion with a high fashion concept for less, while the other collection is smaller and definitely has a sense of a couture collection. That is where my fun comes from! I also anticipate having a full collection of knitwear and gowns and perhaps some lingerie. That would complete my vision.