VFW DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: The House of Amz
This week, the spotlight is on Alexandra Zofcin, designer from The House of Amz, who will be presenting her newest collection based on femininity at our upcoming runway show. The House of Amz creates experimental and cutting edge designs which provoke ideas and discussion on larger scale societal issues.
VFW: Can you describe your brand and yourself in a few sentences?
Alexandra: The AmZ philosophy is one which embodies a sense of social responsibility through art and fashion. Each collection tells a story and allows the audience to connect with the clothing on an emotional level. As creative director, it is sometimes hard to separate myself from the brand, which has become an extension of myself instead of just being a project.
VFW: What sparked your interest in fashion?
Alexandra: That would be my grandmother. She has been my inspiration for everything that I have ever wanted to do or become in the fashion industry. When I was a little girl she would take me shopping on the weekends and always point out the different fabrics and materials, teaching me quality over quantity. I decided that I wanted to be a designer in the 4th grade, and I always told everyone it was because my grandma inspired me to go for it. Throughout my journey in launching the brand, she was always my biggest cheerleader and even though she isn’t with us anymore, she is still the driving force behind everything that I do in fashion.
VFW: Your contemporary style of design makes use of very experimental tailoring, can you describe your creative process?
Alexandra: Each collection sort of takes on its own process. I have always had an interest in creating my own textiles, or using more unconventional materials to create pieces. Many of the garments come from an attempt to create a deconstructed version of a basic garment or create a more ‘feminized’ silhouette from an originally masculine garment. When creating, I tend to take the approach of a ‘punk’ mindset; following the ideals and non-rules of the Punk movement in the 60’s as a means to create new and feminine designs. The goal is a sort of subtle visual oxymoron.
VFW: Where do you find inspiration for your design work?
Alexandra: First and foremost, from people. People provide the most inspiration – their actions and their words. Next, I look to art to find visual interpretations that parallel what is being said and done. For example, the roads and streets of Sicily and Pompeii were the inspiration behind the woven linen textile I have been working with. The way the streets were laid out seemed to create this cage-y pattern that represented the way in which society binds women to certain “roles” and stereotypes. And, the lines of the works of Piet Mondrian will always reign through my work. He is definitely one of my biggest inspirations.
VFW: We appreciate your focus on sustainable design. Can you explain how The House of AmZ follows an eco-conscious slow fashion movement?
Alexandra: All of the garments are made-to-order; therefore at the end of the season nothing can ‘go to waste’ or be ‘leftover.’ In this way, each piece is also handmade and has its own one-of-a-kind nature. We try to take a less-waste approach to creating patterns as well. For example, with the signature Seta Skirt, no ‘scrap fabric’ is left at the end. For the VFW collection, we tried to apply this concept to even more of the pieces that you will see on the runway. And instead of creating collections for set seasons, garments are created with meaning and purpose at a slower pace – sort of anti-fast-fashion and off of the traditional fashion calendar.
VFW: Your Instagram account shows you are a strong purveyor of feminism. How do your designs reflect this?
Alexandra: The designs reflect this because they express that femininity is what you make of it. If you want to wear a big skirt just because it makes you feel beautiful, then go for it. Clothing should empower you to feel the most comfortable in your skin.
VFW: Do you think it’s important to uphold social responsibility in the art and design industry?
Alexandra: Yes, because if our industry doesn’t work to make a statement, and even vie for real change, then what are we really doing? Fashion is an amazing tool for advocating change, and it is definitely under-utilised.
VFW: You create custom-made garments on a per-client basis, what is your most memorable experience working one-on-one?
Alexandra: My most memorable project was definitely the wedding dress I made for one of my cousins. She lived in New Jersey and I was working in South Florida, where the wedding was going to take place. After a series of rather unfortunate events, it became clear that I was going to have to make the dress in the 48 hours before her wedding when she finally arrived in Florida. This was one of the biggest and most intense challenges I have faced so far, but seeing my cousin and her groom’s face in the end was the best part and every stressful moment leading up to her wedding was worth it.
VFW: As an emerging designer, what do you think is the biggest challenge you face?
Alexandra: The biggest challenge is definitely balancing the marketing side of the brand with the actual creation time. It is rough to juggle with both sides because usually I just want to sketch and create, but in the back of my mind I am always worried about the next Instagram post, or the business behind everything. Sometimes it becomes a little daunting.
VFW: Can you describe the F/W 18 collection you will be showcasing at Vancouver Fashion Week?
Alexandra: The collection that will be showcased will be Chapter Three in the “Femininity Is…” story. Chapter One, “Femininity Is…”, began with the idea that Femininity should remain undefined despite many years of restrictions society has enacted on the concept. Chapter Two, the ready-to-wear collection starts to explore how the rules are meant to be bent. The latest collection, Chapter Three, will conclude that “Femininity Is… what you make of it,” and the rules are meant to be broken. We are all warriors of our own style. On the runway, boldly feminine silhouettes will bend the gender norms of today turning femininity into a sensation and a way of life, rather than something that is traditional and gender-specific.
We cannot wait to see The House of Amz showcase at our F/W 18 season in March! The powerful new sense of femininity reflected in the designs is sure to be inspirational and thought provoking.
Words by Faye Cottrill
Images courtesy of Alexandra Zofcin