The way that we dress says so much about who we are as individuals and the moment in which we are living. Whether we focus on the here and now, or choose to reference a time and place removed from our version of reality, our dress code reveals a sort of temporal uniform, a nod to an idea, or a philosophy with which we feel a particular affinity. Designer Zana Bayne is testament to this fact, stating how “our outward appearance is a language of its own”. Creating handcrafted leather pieces, the New York designer is renowned for the transformative power with which she imbues her clothing and it is often said that wearing one of Bayne’s pieces is akin to stepping into a new skin.
For her new collection, “Sunset Boulevard”, Bayne looked west. Working in New York, Bayne noted how “as a New Yorker, I’m able to experience the fantasy of Los Angeles, getting lost in the old and the new Hollywood at Chateau Marmont, seeing the vestiges of rock’n’roll glamour throughout the city”. This dichotomy in style shouldn’t work—the plush richness of old glamour against the grungy, blare of rock’n’roll—but somehow, manages to meet in the middle, creating a city-wide style that is as unique as it is eclectic. This strange but complimentary mixture of high and low, or present and past can be found running throughout the new collection, which meets in wide belts and shorts, cuffs and bustiers.
There is something else at play, however, in Bayne’s designs. Unequivocally inspired by an S&M aesthetic, Bayne explains how, by “(designing) my pieces to maintain this look of restraint”, the leather work has a surprising effect on those who wear it, transforming their bodies entirely. Whilst the straps and cuffs seem to inspire restriction and constraint, Bayne sees something else in her designs, noting the way the leather molds to and supports the bodies of those who wear it: “My intention is to create pieces which focus on the wearer’s comfort with expert fit, which I believe will affect how they carry themselves”. Once again, there is duality. Wearers appear physically restricted but in their apparent constriction, are changed, and given the comfort to move and hold themselves with a greater sense of confidence.
“Our outward appearance is a language of its own”Zana Bayne
Bayne’s “Sunset Boulevard” collection is a celebration of leather, and its transformative effects. When sporting one of Bayne’s pieces, wearers often affect those around them, as much as they do themselves. In this collection and indeed, throughout her work, Bayne creates new shapes for the body, whilst celebrating the long and diverse history of her material. In Bayne’s pieces, “leather can be a powerful communicator with its provocative connotations”, and there is a celebration of “its history of rebellion and taboo”. With the designs, however, there is more at play than just provocation, and by speaking to both a rich culture of place and the present moment in time. Bayne achieves an aesthetic sensibility unlike any other.
Photos SOPHY HOLLAND
Stylist ANNA KATSANIS
Makeup SHIRLEY PINKSON using W3LL PEOPLE
Hair DEYCKE HEIDORN at L’ATELIER NYC
Photo assistant MADDY TALIAS
Talent ZANA BAYNE
Model MARIANA at WOMEN 360
Shot at Anchor Studios, NYC