“Bigger, Better, and More Leather!” for Zana Bayne

Models backstage at Zana Bayne. Photo by Sonny Vandevelde. 

Maybe it’s because it’s impossible to resist a cute baby, but more likely the romantic mood and beautiful styling of Zana Bayne’s spring 2015 collection did me in. However I got hooked, I am, and I had the pleasure of speaking with the designer about real life moments on the runway and what’s next for her brand. 

The collection felt like a growth and departure from the strict leather of previous seasons; there’s a lot of depth with the inclusion of the clean white pieces.

I have a totally romantic point of view when it comes to design. A lot of the initial inspiration, with the shirting and shirt dresses [a collaboration with Norisol Ferrari], was this idea of easiness and lightness, being able to bring something softer to leather. Which sometimes can come off really hard. So I wanted to bring something beach-y to the collection. One of the biggest inspirations was moonlit water on the beach at night. What would somebody be wearing in that setting? How would they be feeling?

Look 2

When I watched the show and saw these beautiful looks, it made me want to pack up the collection, move to a house by the water and fall in love… and then the baby at the end felt so perfect for that! I mean, that’s how it works in real life, right? How did the baby come to be in the show?

The model is Mollie Gondi, and that was her baby. I just thought it’d be a really beautiful way to end this romantic, fantastical show. I wasn’t really thinking so much about the symbolism as I was about the visual of just how impactful that would be. I like for people to draw their own narrative from having them [Mollie and baby Phoenix] in there. But I wanted it to be a really pretty, spring summer collection! I didn’t really realize how much having baby Phoenix at the end would really resonate with people. And it’s unexpected for a leather collection.

Look 25

There have been a few moments like that this season, where it’s not strictly models on the runway. Dustin Yellin walked at Nonoo giving his best white girl impression. That obviously had more humor and was less about symbolism… Travi$ Scott basically roughhoused down the runway at Mark McNairy. At your show, when cooed at the same time it was so funny.

I saw it over the monitor!

It was a nice connecting moment, everyone laughed at themselves after.

Yeah I think people are trying to find a way to bring more life to runway, and hearken back to the ‘90s runway where there was personality and a story. We’re all kind of trying to find a way to escape the fast walk and the same pacing. For me I love a little bit of attitude and sassiness… but even with the Gareth Pugh presentation, that’s another person trying to take something off the runway.

Opening Ceremony put on a play.

It’s something really special for people at the show. It’s a moment you’re experiencing.

What’s next, what do you hope happens for your brand?

After this we go into sales, bring everything to Paris…. Checking out the tannery over in Amsterdam, hopefully working on some leather innovations there. Visiting my friend who just had a baby — another reason why I had Phoenix in the show. I think in October we’re back in New York and starting on the new collection! I’m making pieces for a film this next week. I did a special installation for a fitness studio called Monster Cycle.

I’m really interested in focusing on the collection of handbags. There were five new styles for the show. We’re working on those. I’m trying to secure myself in as a luxury accessories label.

It does not stop from here. I’m glad it doesn’t stop. Bigger, better, and more leather!

“Like Playing Deer Hunter, But with Celebrities” — NYFW’s Best Parties

Adult Magazine’s new issue at American Two Shot

Thursday night my buddy Corey Olsen; a photographer, and myself, whatever I am, decided we would hit some fashion week parties so you didn’t have to. After checking out the new issue of Adult magazine at American Two Shot we headed over to the Meatpacking because *we luv 2 party*. We met up with some friends to, you know, “paint the town red” or something and started making our way over to the Essential Homme party at Gilded Lily. Ja Rule was set to perform and I didn’t want to miss that. I also invited along my brother, Tucker, who works in finance and told me how he ended up at the Zana Bayne show earlier which sort of baffled all of us, including him.

We arrived at Essential Homme to a mob at the door and the news that nobody was getting in. By some grace of god, or perhaps just friendship with the PR, I managed to get our posse of nine in. However, once we got inside it became clear why the door was closed. The party was so full that despite getting inside there was no way of getting past the crowds of suave dudes. Our team decided that sadly this wasn’t the play, and turned back to the mean streets of the meatpacking.

Our crew dispersed with most of our friends heading to Chromat and ODD’s parties while Corey and I made our way over to Richard Chai’s after-party at Up & Down. The scene was vastly different — no insanity at door and room to breathe inside. We were quickly directed to the cool boy celebs we needed to take pics of — the Jonas brothers (Joe was DJing!), Darren Criss of Glee, and Richard Chai himself. I fancy myself a teen heartthrob so it was nice to be with my peers.

darren ashley richard Darren Criss, stylist Ashley Weston, and Richard Chai

Nick Jonas and friend

As I looked around for some of my actual peers I was surprised to not really recognize anyone until my girl Hari Nef rolled in looking gorgeous in green.

My babyI wore a logo-print presumably fake Dior cap all night

As more familiar faces rolled in we got to dancing and made our way upstairs (Get it? *UP* & *DOWN*, LOL) for Adult’s second party. The up became the down and the whole thing became sort of non-specific.

party girls dont get hurt“Party girls don’t get hurt” — Chandelier by Sia

david moses
Party girl David Moses

zak krevittParty girl Zak Krevitt

We eventually made our way to Boom Boom Room where all good parties happen. We couldn’t take photos but I’ll give you a couple fun facts and you will have to believe me. Outside I heard a guy scolding the door-girl, “Don’t stamp me, I have to model tomorrow.” RJ Mitte (another heartthrob, the son from Breaking Bad) was talking to Alessandria Ambrosio and they both looked real good. We sort of felt like we were playing Deer Hunter, but with celebrities, and whatever was cool that we could share with you was worth points. There wasn’t open bar so I paid $12 for their cheapest beer. We decided we were done running around looking for the best party/pum-pum/turn-up/jump-off and looked out over the skyline. Hari sighed in relief, “I’m living for the Freedom Tower; I’m living for the moon.”

All photos by Corey Olsen

Our 6 Fave Moments from #NYFW Day 1: Normcore Shoes, Babies, and Food

via @zanabayne on Instagram

Today marked the official first day of NYFW (although ask industry folk and they will surely tell you it doesn’t feel that way!) Traffic is insane, heels are on (for some unknown reason), and we thought for a moment that #NYFW broke Instagram this evening, though it might have been our collective imaginations. There’s so much to be seen; it’s an overwhelming but fabulous sensory experience.

Sara: Since we’re at different shows and didn’t get to see each other all day, we’re gonna catch up right here, right now.

(P.S. you can follow us through #NYFW on Instagram at @alyssashapiro and @sarajanenyc. And of course, @blackbookmag.)

Alyssa: Forget what you said about heels. I’m sticking to flats this season. Starting off on the right foot, baby. But yes, #NYFW definitely did break Instagram for a minute.

Sara: I wore flat sandals today and while I resented feeling underdressed at times, I was also like “dudes, are you watching the runways?” because it’s allllll about flats.

Alyssa: So true. I’ve seen a few heels, but from the Chinatown sandals and normcore white sneakers at Sandy Liang to the dressed-up flat sandals at Chadwick Bell, I have no qualms about throwing on some AF1s this week. And I’m sure my chiropractor is thrilled.

Sara: Chiropractor shoutout! Okay, let’s jump right in. My fave moment of the whole day: Michael Maccari showed his first collection for Perry Ellis–a parade of strikingly beautiful #VERYPERRY guys in tailored pastels and graphic patterns “inspired by the lines and grids of the city. But the highlight was absolutely when Maccari came out to a huge round of applause, walked down the runway and gave his mum a big hug and kiss! Strangely, I’m not sure everyone else found this quite as amazing as I did and so on my way out I said “congratulations,” to this very smiley woman I do not know, and she took my hand (!) to thank me and then we chatted about how proud of her she was. Heartwarming fashion moment — check!

Alyssa: I love family moments. Today at Zana Bayne, the finale look featured a baby. Yup, the model teetered out in some big gal shoes (ok so not everyone is doing flats) carrying perhaps the chillest baby ever, given all the lights and people and that he didn’t cry once. Actually, about halfway through his turn on the catwalk, he gave a wave. And every single person at Milk Studios cooed, “awwww!” at the same time. Proof that we are all a little baby crazy.

Sara: I would have died. I have a real problem with how much I love babies. I’m that person like “ooh-ing” on the sidewalk.

Alyssa: You have no idea.

Sara: Oh, another fun surprise: I thought they only existed in myths but alas! Creatures of Comfort provided showgoers with little goody bags containing nail polish, hair spray, and much-needed granola bars. Honestly, I don’t think anyone even cared about the nail polish though. I literally nibbled on a bite sized Larabar like it was Manna from heaven. Feeding the tired and often malnourished editors as they jet from show to show is always a win!


Alyssa: I can’t tell you how much I ate at the Gareth Pugh presentation after not having a proper meal today. I actually staked out in front of where the cater waiters entered and basically stole all the food.

Sara: Food is the way to my heart. Enough of these pin-sized appetizers on toothpicks, I’m ready for a presentation with straight up sandwiches. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind foot massages!

Before we hit the hay (if that happens) will you catch me up on ALTUZARRA FOR TARGET? #FOMO

Alyssa: Haha. No sleep for the wicked. The funhouse situation was pretty cool. I haven’t had any champagne yet this week but it sure felt like I had once I stepped inside. I didn’t brave the boutique set up in the party, but I’m looking forward to shopping the collection when it hits Net-a-Porter and Target stores on September 14.

And that brings my #selfie count to 1 so far this NYFW. Until tomorrow, dear readers! And you, too, Sara.

Sara: Night <3

Leather: From High To Low

Now with Americana being one of the big trends that is on the tips of everyone’s tongue, and the quintessential animal of America being the cow (whether in making fun of our beefy population or being the one animal always seen on a country road), leather, especially leather accessories, have been garnering a bit of attention these days and are being used in new and creative ways. First you have Zana Bayne and her leather harnesses that are creeping into the high fashion world bit by bondage-y bit. image image A particular fave of mine are these calf pieces. image Sticking to the depraved vein of things we have ERRO who just became available at Opening Ceremony. ERRO, makers of fine leather goods, garters, and underwear…yes underwear. image image Now to lift us out from the dungeon to things ‘higher’ we have Michael Kors’ new “Triple Buckle” belt to wash away that icky feeling. image And just when you thought it was safe… image So whether you choose perverse or posh, both are looking good this season. But honestly who doesn’t like to get a little dirty sometimes?

Zana Bayne Online Store Opens, Leather Enthusiasts Shriek Excitedly

After much buzz and anticipation, Zana Bayne’s online store has finally opened, and we couldn’t be more excited by the extensive collection of made-to-order leather items. From harnesses to belts to jewelry, Zana Bayne’s line is tough, striking, and 100% handmade. After years of hawking products primarily through an Etsy shop, the full online store is now open with a generous 15% discount for readers of Bayne’s blog.

Working out of her Williamsburg apartment, Zana Bayne recently released her first formal lookbook, and her success and exposure has been growing steadily since, including a Ciara performance on George Lopez for which she wore the Francesca Harness. Head to the online shop to browse the amazing leather designs (for the animal lovers amongst us, she’s crafted a special line of rubber accessories in the most popular designs, including the incredibly versatile 3-strap belt) and keep an eye on Zana Bayne’s blog – we’re sure to see many good things from the upstart designer in the coming year.

Leather Master Zana Bayne’s First Lookbook

You may already be familiar with Zana Bayne—her leather accessories can most accurately be summed up as “bondage chic,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything similar on the market right now. Her blog features sneak peeks of designs in progress as well as outfit photos; her avant-garde style is mainly composed of all-blacks of varying textures and fabrics, with an emphasis on volume. She’s been quietly crafting leather goods, such as harnesses, stacked belts, and jewelry for many years, so the anticipation for her first formal collection is pretty intense.

The lookbook includes multiple harnesses for men and women in white and black, which will be available in her online store in January. View the full set of images on her site, and be sure to check out her Etsy shop for the current line of leather goods.

The Fight of the Fashion Bloggers

Not too long ago, fashion editors regarded fashion blogs, with their real people and street style, as the hobby of a handful of overzealous, amateur fans. Today the fashion blogosphere’s littered with individuals sharing their passion for style, from their own daily outfits to photographing other well-dressed pedestrians. And the perks that come to the web’s fortunate shinning talents are impressive: front-row seats at fashion shows, free samples, modeling contracts, design, styling, and photography contracts with established retailers, book deals, and editorial work. Fashion bloggers, once outsiders to the insular world of fashion, are now carving a spot for themselves among the fashion media and reaping the benefits of exposure. But what are they giving up?

All this attention from the fashion mainstream is blurring the line between independent, accessible fashion bloggers and the rest of the industry gatekeepers. The whole allure with fashion blogging is the fact that it’s an alternative to the fashion media. While not all bloggers are rubbing shoulders with those in the industry, when designers are dressing you for their shows and giving you a front-row seat or department stores are sending you packages, a regular gal you are definitely not. Street-style photographers have turned their lens from nameless faces on the street with great style to fashion insiders with access to designers most could only dream of. The dynamics of the conversation in fashion blogs has changed with the reader left now as the only outsider — just like in glossy magazines. And what’s so indie about that?

“If a blogger is interested in fashion and ultimately wants to pursue a career in the industry, that sort of absorption should be commended, and considered a success of the medium,” says Zana Bayne, who runs the cheeky and popular Garbagedress.com and designs leather accessories. The 21-year-old Bayne is an old-school fashion blogger who at the age of 12 was writing her fashion thoughts on LiveJournal fashion communities before personal blogging became a la mode. “A blog has the unique power of functioning as a portfolio of personality, taste, and ability — some have realized this and are smart and strategic with their blogging intentions.”

Unlike some other forms of blogging, fashion blogging in the last couple of years has proven to have a possibly disproportionate effect on the industry it covers — not to mention becoming a profitable new media business for some. Gone are the days of the anonymous blogger. A fashion blogger today must be fluent in networking, self-promotion, and be ready to put in a considerable amount of work into a blog in order to stand out from the crowd.

Work-at-home designer and Keiko Groves, who blogs about fashion at Keiko Lynn, says having to adhere to the independent label associated with blogging is ridiculous. “I imagine most fashion bloggers blog about fashion because they love it. So how is it selling out to accept an invitation into a world you once thought was completely impenetrable?”

Some bloggers, like Lulu Chang, aren’t so easily wooed. “I think it’s hard for anyone to avoid the allure of the fashion industry. It’s a personal choice — I love fashion, but I prefer to stay away from the industry.” Back in March 2008 Chang launched her blog, Lulu and Your Mom, to offer readers a fresh perspective on fashion. She never envisioned how popular it would become. “Bloggers have definitely reached a whole new level of influence. It can be overwhelming. I think the problem with a lot of new bloggers is that they are too motivated by free stuff and fame. At the end of the day, you should blog because it makes you happy.”

Considering the rate at which loyal readership of fashion blogs is steadily growing, a mention on top blogs for designers is becoming a serious component of their marketing approach. It’s cheap and fast PR. Needless to say, designers shower bloggers with free samples and invites to events in hopes of receiving an enthusiastic shout out — not unlike the relationship they share with the print fashion media.

“I think those who are disappointed by advertisement and endorsements need to shut their computers and start living their own lives,” says Bayne. “The internet is the most public and widely accessed domain for self-expression. To imply all bloggers must be inherently indie while broadcasting themselves online is rather contradictory.” Just take a look at the history of every other medium such as TV, film, and radio and see how ad revenue ultimately always affects content.

Anina, who runs 360FashionNetwork and Anina.net, believes transparency in fashion blogging is very important for credibility of the bloggers. “Fashion bloggers are mistakenly carrying over old media techniques into new media space. Where traditional media cloaks their advertising into editorials, bloggers are supposed to disclose when they are being paid to promote a product.” Such a disclaimer is a rarity on fashion blogs. It’s hard to believe a blogger who is offered a trip to Paris to attend a show would have anything remotely negative to say about the designer’s collection.

For star fashion blogger and fashion critic Susie Lau of Style Bubble fame, accepting gifts from designers after she raved about them on her blog is not the issue. “Whether I got it for free or not is besides the point if the thing itself is absolute crap and in no way reflects my personal taste,” she says. “For me things get offered as a way of thanking me for a post that I did which is usually a pleasant surprise as opposed to something I expect.” Lau is currently working as a commissioning editor at Dazed Digital.

Not everyone shares Lau’s views on the ethics of swag. Chang knows first-hand how this delicate new relationship between bloggers and the fashion world can go awry. “I know for a fact that certain bloggers will try to use their blog as leverage in exchange for free stuff … sometimes approaching a designer or label first.” Chang would rather not name names, but she said the trend is widespread. She’s turned down her share of sponsors and celebrity coverage. “A lot of publicists try to get me to interview celebrities. The whole point of blogging is that it’s supposed to empower the everyday person. Who cares what celebrities think?”

While more access and ads on their pages doesn’t necessarily always translate to bloggers not keeping it real with readers, it does raise relevant questions about the unbiased nature of the content in a medium celebrated for its autonomous opinions. [Top photo by Mary Ellen Matthews, from singer-songwriter Ryan Adams’ brief internship with us last year.]