Fashion is a way for Eran Shanny to express himself. His latest work, “Wild Hearts”, is colourful and natural with clothes that are virtual explosions of light and texture with hearts, animals, rag dolls and abstract designs, inspired by the urgency and dynamism of the punk rock world.
Before studying Fashion Design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, Eran Shanny worked in the world of performance art and dance throughout Europe, America and Asia. His knowledge of the body and movement has deeply influenced his approach to fashion.
His intention is for each garment to be a show and that’s what caught our eye here at So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins. Eran is a direct challenge to the oftentimes monotone and boring world of men’s fashion.
SO CATCHY!: When and why did you decide to “change” your career and study Fashion?
ERAN SHANNY: When I chose to study fashion design, I didn’t think about it as a step away from creating performance. I liked the idea that putting on a fashion show actually uses so many similar aspects to a dance or theatre performance. In the centre of it is the body, then questions about the space, the music, the makeup and lights & the action, those are all part of the image I create to characterise and communicate my own thoughts on people and aesthetics.
SC!: Why did you choose this Fashion School?
ES: I had been following some fashion designers that interested me. Two of them were Walter Van Bierendonck and Bernhard Willhelm. I read some interviews and found out about the Antwerp Fashion Academy. I didn’t do a lot of research into other fashion schools; I just felt this could be an experience for me. I loved the idea that in this Academy every student gets to show his work to an audience, every year, and Antwerp seemed like a nice city with inspiring people working here.
SC!: How was the experience of studying in Antwerp?
ES: The school program is quit intense and the first two years where not easy. It was especially difficult to handle all the different projects we had to do at the same time. In second year, I had to create my first collection “Interior Illusions” and my way of working was still very much influenced by how I worked in dance. I think my teacher then found my ideas intriguing but had difficulties to help me with developing them. My fascination with objects and their relation to the body didn’t really help me to convey my sense of fashion to her. I was sure I was about to fail that year. The last two years I had a lot of fun working on larger scale collections, I guess I understood better what worked for me and what part of my process I could communicate, I understand sometimes my research can spread to very different directions so process can seem quite unclear.
SC!: How have dance and performance influenced your work?
ES: I guess I have already answered that in a way, but I just want to make it clear. I don’t like to think of my work as costumes for a show. I like the clothes to be “The Show”. I used the years I studied as a laboratory; time to push myself to experiment in material, colour, pattern and construction of clothes. I think my background is always present in the way I think about fashion as a form of self-expression, and my ongoing study of the body gives me some freedom when thinking about shapes and lines.
SC!: Tell us about Curiosity Cabinets.
ES: “Curiosity Cabinets” is my B.A. collection. It started from a fascination with shiny and metallic materials. Collecting images of beetle collections, oil stains, mother of pearl objects, thermal scans and the use of refraction of light in contemporary artwork such as Dan Flavin and Jan Fabre. I realised I was trying to create a modern Cabinet of Curiosities. This idea came to life using synthetic, metallic, smooth and hairy materials to form sculpted yet very narrow silhouettes. I tried to create this feeling I get when visiting a natural history museum, observing the artefacts while sometimes doubting whether it’s real or artificial. The cuts were referring to a nobleman’s way of dressing in the 17th and 18th centuries and the curved shapes of the beetle’s shell. I created Swarovski “prints” to maximise the shiny and organic effects and the ornamental aspect from my inspiration.
SC!: Now, let´s talk about Wild Hearts, your last collection.
ES: For “Wild Hearts” I wanted to create in a more playful way. My Intention was to capture the urgency, dynamism and rawness there is in punk and rock so I started working with leather in combination of the bright red, blue, strong green, soft pink and a lot of black. It was the drawings of Bill Traylor that convinced me to look at naive art and to try and design in a naive way. I started drawing a lot of small little shapes, hearts, faces and figurative “animals”, these simple black pen drawings started to translate into the actual designs. I thought it would be interesting to let go of the thoughts about construction of garments, and to even figure out my own way to make pockets in the same brutal manner; the pieces are actually created as a collage. Other garments were made from luxurious fabrics like silk organza and glittery stain, those are covered in leather patches or different embroidery techniques with my figurative and graphic naive drawings. The general silhouette felt right to me when I started mixing in Bill Traylor’s – the 1920’s dress style, I was fascinated by the “Oxford Bags”, extremely wide trousers, it felt very young and liberating.
SC!: Your website says: He questions in his fashion making accepted norms of appearance of masculinity, femininity… What kind of fashion do you represent?
ES: I do think as a designer it is inevitable that I ask questions about beauty. I find it quite interesting that not only colours and cut but also some qualities of fabrics or certain techniques are so associated with gender.
I try to look for an aesthetic I like at the time I’m developing a collection and I enjoy mixing up these elements that are not often seen together in menswear. It is a fine line between dressing a man in something that might come across as a man in women’s clothes, and a man dressed in clothes that suggest another definition of masculinity.
SC!: What would you like to do next?
ES: I am looking for job opportunities at brands I like. I started working on a new collection with the idea of doing it a little bit more professionally. I wanted to be able to hold a little stock of several more commercial pieces, but that is on hold for the moment. I need time to find the way I can feel comfortable doing so.
SC!: Do you plan to sell online anytime soon?
ES: I am taking my time with producing and selling but it is something I’m looking into.
SC!: You say you use unconventional material. What’s your favourite material to work with?
ES: I can’t think of one favourite material; I love textile in general. With each collection I am finding something that works for me, usually a special texture or a mix of materials that feels unusual to me.
SC!: Name an online magazine about art, music, fashion you usually read….
SC!: You cannot stop wearing….
ES: Colourful socks
SC!: Fashion is in need of…
ES: Appreciation and exposure for individual small designers. I am a little tired of looking at editorials with the same clothes from the same fashion houses everywhere.
SC!: The perfect garment is…
ES: Something that makes you feel special, something that you will have for years.
Header and Curiosity Cabinets photos: Assaf Einy and Nadav Fink
Wild Hearts photos: C.D.E.
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla