OR/BITING: interview with Lezanne Viviers,


We were honoured recently to pour Krone MCC at the launch of designer Lezanne Viviers’ collection: VIVIERS SS2020, a presentation and collaborative performance, OR/BITING, with visual artist Marlene Hettie Steyn.

The installation focused on the concept of mythopoesis: reimagining the narratives of the Medusas and her detours in Africa. Using bodies as threads, fabrics as skins and sculptural elements, Viviers and Steyn explored the provocative space between fashion design and visual art. The collaboration took place at LOTUS HOUSE, as part of the FNB Art Jo’burg’s VIP Programme. We caught up with Lezanne and Marlene.

Can you explain the concept of mythopoesis and why you were drawn to this as an inspiration for your new collection?

Marlene: We were drawn to various mythologies spanning between alchemy and after lives, snake-headed gorgons and chakras. We wanted to create a collection that reorganised and fused these symbols and narratives – to create a range that doesn’t pin or button the wearer down, but rather one that opened up a space for the wearer to flow through free associations that challenges his/her own familiar grooves, unbuttoning their subconscious.

What made you decide to work with Marlene Steyn?

Lezanne: Marlene and I grew up together and I always knew we play similar games in our minds: we both share the curiosity in liminal spaces, where the line between boundaries are always blurred and questioned. We are excited by ideas that expand and deflate, paradigms that can be molded, shaped or folded, to unfold and give birth to a moment, a moment to pause and to be enticed by beautiful, dreamy slime.

What was the highlight for you of the show?

Lezanne: The contributors and community that not only formed the cast, but that breathed sparkling life into our molded dreams.

Tell us about some of the installations and their meanings?

Marlene: Our collection attempts to turn insides out. The meanings should rather be seen as a poetic playing field: we asked ourselves questions like: ‘can a clothing piece be a face? How could we reorganise the body into a reptilian shape? What happens when you give an egg a fringe?’ By asking these gut questions, that arose from playing, thinking and making we attempted to open up the space of the unconscious.

Expand on this comment: "the provocative space between fashion design and visual art to depict a powerful, albeit dangerous female subjectivity that demands poetic expression outside the logocentric sphere"

Marlene: We set out to create a collection that defies rationality, one that celebrates shadows. Materials that flap and fluctuate like emotions. We wanted to draw closer to the unconscious, being fully aware that this goal is unattainable. When our models finally wore our skins – the meanings changed instantaneously. Their spirits altering our vessels.

Can you explain what you were trying to achieve, and do you think you accomplished it?

Lezanne: Our goal was to play; like when a glacier starts sliding, to let all encoded ideas slide like a Slippery Slide, into a pool of foam and bubbles, where thoughts link and expand and pop and rejoin to become iridescent rainbows in a whirlpool of our minds. Yes, our skins still carry the soapy residue from the pool, almost dry enough to enter the slide again.

Words of encouragement for people wanting to pursue a career in design?

Lezanne: Discipline, hours, routine, repeat = the joy of the process, the laughter within the doing and making.

If what you do is sincere, what you do will make sense.

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