WANDA NYLON ON NEXT GENERATION
By Crash redaction
FOLLOWING HER ANDAM FASHION AWARD GRAND PRIZE WIN, WE TAKE A LOOK BACK AT OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FRENCH DESIGNER WANDA NYLON. OTHERWISE KNOWN AS JOHANNA SENYK, SHE RECENTLY PUT ON HER SECOND FASHION SHOW FOR THE RELEASE OF HER FALL-WINTER 2016 COLLECTION. OPENING HER CAREER WITH A CONCEPTUAL LINE OF VINYL RAINWEAR, WHICH FIRST BROUGHT HER TO THE ATTENTION OF THE FASHION PRESS, SHE IS NOW DEVELOPING A FULL WARDROBE DESIGNED FOR CONTEMPORARY WOMEN, LIBERATED FROM THE DICTATES OF FEMININITY AND SEDUCTION. PART OF THE NEW MOVEMENT OF DESIGNERS STRIVING TO SHAKE UP THE RULES OF THE READY-TO-WEAR SYSTEM, WANDA NYLON TAKES THE LEAD OF THE NEW GENERATION.
Interview by Armelle Leturcq
What was the concept behind Wanda Nylon?
The initial concept was to create rainwear blending design and function. I wanted an extremely clear niche product. My collections are made for strong and independent girls; I like to imagine they can buy their outfits with their own money and that they don’t just wear what they think guys like. Things are depressing in France: there are brands for girls who dream of nothing more than marrying a dentist and buying a name-brand bag at the end of the month; and then there are brands that don’t bother anyone, for girls who aren’t intimidating, who are cute. I wanted to create a “power wardrobe” for my friends, the ones who like to live, go out, create, dance, love… not for the women of Avenue Montaigne. We’re on the brink of a total transformation and I feel like the market is shifting, that people want something new and more personal, more original and less “marketed.”
Did you find good retail outlets right away?
From the very first season we were distributed by about thirty of the world’s top retailers; we had to meet quality and timing standards from very early on and the rhythm picked up from the start. We presented six collections a year; I had to follow the schedule set by the major stores. It’s tough and extremely exhausting to reinvent yourself so often; that’s why I decided to break with the rhythm to go deeper into my work, to develop cuts and materials further, and to finally practice my craft with more freedom. So we decided to produce just two women’s collections a year. After three months of development I realized our models were interesting enough to show. It was two months before fashion week and I didn’t worry at all about any protocol or anything. We put it all together among friends: we borrowed a space that was still in construction, Jackson came to do the music, Véronique Didry was the stylist, Emilie Legoff handled the casting, Devi did the production: “Team Wanda” was born!
The casting of your first show, for the Spring-Summer 2016 collection, left a big impression for its fresh, spontaneous attitude with top models like Charlotte Free and girls from other generations like Joana Preiss.
After a long conversation with Emilie I realized how important it was for me to mix several generations of women with individual styles, strong personalities, since we wanted to present something intimate, outside of the dictates. I used to be a casting director, and I’m tired of this system that just casts little girls who end up becoming indistinguishable. I asked friends to walk the runway; of course we mixed friends and professional models. I think it’s crucial to interact with the models. I want the girls on the runway for Wanda Nylon to truly represent us. They exude intelligence, strength, and independence. Beauty is about personality for me, not fashion or seasons. As a woman, I think it’s important to show that we are beautiful and desirable at any age; in fact some women are much more beautiful at forty than twenty just because they are happier and more self-confident: that proves that beauty is never a purely physical thing.
Do you go to the negotiations with buyers?
I’m not very talented at selling my own designs! Dealing with money makes me uncomfortable; it dries up all my spontaneity. Although I still have a few privileged clients who have become friends, but that takes time. It’s usually through collaborations or creative exchanges that I manage to build ties.
Creative directors are now expected to be good communicators, too.
You can’t be gifted in everything, and unfortunately those two skills rarely go together. Speaking for myself, I take a lot of time to reflect before designing my models; I try them on, transform them, or sometimes cancel them. When it comes to talking I’m much more spontaneous. It seems like it’s easier to talk freely about your creative process when it’s authentic. When I started Wanda Nylon, I didn’t want to talk about myself. I never would have named my house Johanna Senyk, because I think that gets to be stifling over time. Giving it another name provides more freedom; and I was also naïve enough to think that if I did good work, I wouldn’t need to say anything else! The name WANDA NYLON has now taken off. It’s synonymous with strong, independent, and self-assured women, something like modern-day pirates, and I love it! I think we need to recover a certain sense of spontaneity. We only talk about our designs and the people around us: the Wanda Nylon crew. As for the rest, I’m super proud of my team and all the talented people in it.
Fashion shows have become such an enormously mediatized spectacle that some fashion houses want to sell their collections right away instead of waiting six months, while others now prefer to advance the calendar and only present in January and June.
What’s certain is that there are too many collections, too much information, and that the system has become a bit absurd. That’s why we restrain ourselves to presenting only two collections a year, so that we can focus on our designs. For me the most important thing is the originality, message, and function of each garment – what it can offer a woman, to make her stronger and even more beautiful.
Interview from Crash #75