The avant-garde genius
Tzvi Karp first caught my attention at the LISOF 2011 Graduate Show. His working is conceptual and completely compelling, offering something very rarely seen in the South African fashion industry – something interesting.
Job? What is that? Hmmm… Does brushing up on my Japanese whilst simultaneously waiting around by my telephone for Yoji Yammamoto to call count?
What was the inspiration behind your De-fence collection?
My inspiration for my collection is based on exploring Human Trafficking. After reading a report in Time magazine regarding Global acts of Human Trafficking I could not help but feel strangely attached, disturbed, intrigued and fascinated and I began to dedicate a lot of time, energy and research to the subject matter and so I therefore was inspired to relate this concept within a Fashion context. I feel that the process of human trafficking is rather synonymous with the blindfolded mentality of our lost generation and thus I explored various elements which are elementary necessities that are taken for granted such as personal space, instinctive defense mechanisms and the bond that links us to other human beings.
I also took a great deal of inspiration from fencing as it is a sport that deals with combat and defense yet the irony lies the rules and etiquette it requires to defend ones self as opposed to instinctive locomotive reflexes of defense sharing cross pollination with the act of human trafficking where one is physically able to defend and remove themselves from the situation yet there is an enigmatic force present which restricts this.
You were of the finalists for the AFI Fastrack initiative.Tell us about that experience. Do you think it adds value to young designers?
I must confess that I was obsessed with my graduation collection from its creative inception to its execution but for me this obsession ended the night of my graduation fashion show last year December as all my hard work, creative energy and concerted efforts to prove my lecturers wrong culminated in a special mention from a panel of external judges who described my collections as innovative. However that being said I viewed Fast Track as an opportunity to strengthen my portfolio with professional runway shots and a stepping stone of a platform for unexplored opportunities to present themselves.
In the process of Fast Track I received the amazing opportunity to work with internationally acclaimed Fashion Show producer Jan Malan who was so incredibly wise, professional, creative, understanding and willing to accommodate my vision and working with him broadened my knowledge. Its liberating to know that even the craziest of Runway routines such as the one that I envisioned are possible to execute if conceptualized.
It was also incredible getting the opportunity to meet and interact with the 11 other contestants from around the country. This was great to see what other young creative minds are thinking as well as discovering what their attitudes towards the future of fashion are outside of the bubble of Lisof. As a student at Lisof I always felt secluded with regards to all other fashion schools in the country and I personally always felt that there must be far more creative, innovative and academically inclined schools in the country and as things stand I can honestly state that there is no finer means of fashion tertiary education in the country. Don’t get me wrong I fought and argued with all my lecturers to achieve my desired design aesthetic but I soon discovered that at Lisof if you are willing to invest the extra working hours it is possible to do anything you desire without compromising your vision and academically no fashion school in the country can compete with the level of academic theoretical knowledge it provides.
Ultimately FastTrack confirmed my suspicions of the frighteningly lonely place in the world in which the conceptual designer is left to fend for themselves however gaining this insight will only prepare and strengthen me in order to fight harder, attempt to satisfy both my intense curiosity and my hunger for knowledge and ultimately to continue to create whilst never fearing errors or risk compromising my integrity.
What is your current obsession?
Andy Warhol’s Underground films, Star Wars Lego, Alfred Hitchcock, Pop Up Books, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and my Jeremy Scott sneakers.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the fact that as a fashion designer I have the opportunity to explore a powerful medium as a social commentary. I would hate to utilize fashion as a vessel to cater to peoples needs or using fashion as a mere commoditisation of a product. I would like to use fashion to subliminal challenge the masses. I don’t expect my crazy abstract thoughts to be understood but I would like people to think about what I have shown them beyond the surface level of a dress they could wear to a on the streets, to a corporate event or a bar mitzvah! Just to subliminally challenge the masses into understanding the power of the common denominator that all humans beings share, clothing and the will dress and ultimately push people to think within a broader context and breaking the cyclical mess that allows the masses to patronize fashion for its facile nature.
Who inspires you?
I’m very inspired by literature (particularly the transgressive post modern variety)so my favorite Authors Bret Easton Ellis, Haruki Murakami, Chuck Palaniuk, Salman Rushdie and Ayn Rand continue to inspire me. In terms of Fashion Hussein Chalayan for his innovation and Jeremy Scott for not taking it too seriously.
What are you listening to right now?
A very strange mix. The Velvet Underground, Hole (the vintage era when Courtney Love was still one hot mess in a designer dress) and the soundtrack to the hit Broadway musicals Rent and Wicked.. Oh and lets not forget the nightly dance sessions in my underwear where the soundtrack of choice is 80’s pop primarily made up of Madonna hits!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Learning, growing, experimenting, never playing it safe and being incredibly controversial, politically incorrect and never but never compromising my creative integrity!