One can only imagine recent Academy of Art fashion design graduate, Vivian Mazuki’s state of mind at the 2014 Graduation Fashion Show. Sitting among the presences of three generations of Missoni women—not to mention other industry leaders such as Suzy Menkes—Mazuki sent her graduating collection down the runway that not only demonstrated her education at the Academy, but proved she has what it takes to be a fashion designer.
The recent graduate’s conceptual collection was inspired by the ambivalent connotations of mental asylums. Mazuki went beyond the general associations of asylums—which more often than not trigger disturbing thoughts of madness and abuse—and found salvage in the institution’s duality.
“It surprised me that while I thought I would feel disturbed by [Christopher Payne’s] images, I felt a moment of calmness and tranquility instead. I then focused on the bittersweet aspect of the asylum.” –Vivian Mazuki
The designer’s collection featured loose, androgynous silhouettes in a practically achromatic palette. Oversized tops with cutouts just below the shoulder loudly echoed the confinement and restriction of straight jackets. Baggy, undefined ankle length dresses hid the body’s natural shape, demonstrating an amorphous proportion that was weighted at the waist. The precise verticality achieved by the pinstripes created a light, yet effective contrast against the soft curves of the designs’ silhouettes. The majority of the differentiation within the designs was found within the upper body, which ultimately created a sense of confinement. The bottoms however, remained loose and spacious. Together, the designs conveyed dueling ideas of restriction and freedom.
A variety of heavy and opulent fabrics were used in the collection including cashmere, wool, and silk wool blends. Clean and uncluttered, Mazuki’s collection was on point with today’s minimalism trend. The sleek designs were accompanied by jewelry designed by fellow Academy of Art Jewelry Design student, Dale Beevers. Her bold and chunky necklaces and bangles were dynamic, fusing and distorting organic and geometric shapes.
Mazuki’s consistent juxtaposition unobtrusively illustrates a greater, more abstract concept. Rather than sticking with the traditional nightmarish perception of asylums, Mazuki explored the soft, healing, and even tranquil aspects of them. Her designs create an allusion of constraint that complements a greater reality of freedom. As a fashion designer, she was able to conceive and converge an abstraction out of a tangible concept and then produce it into an aesthetically strong clothing collection. Brava Mazuki.