Transcendence, a short teaser XRay Doll shot for SheverDUSHKA’s Winter 2012 Collection. Music by Patrick Hansen
Dreamy and experimental, her designs are born of a desire to infuse the intangible into the material world. I asked her about the influences behind her new project, “Transcendence”
LJ: Where did the inspiration for Transcendence come from?
TS: The main inspiration comes from Nature, the greatest designer of all! The textures, shapes and defining elements all come from noticing and rethinking what Mother Nature has already created. I am also inspired by architecture and the historical legacy of fashion. Silhouettes for my current collection were highly influenced by historical costumes of the 14th-18th centuries, such as medieval dresses or regal robes. I think Game of Thrones has something to do with it, and Once Upon a Time. I’m obsessed with both.
My intention regarding the design concept was about bringing historical elements into modern society to give the wearer a chance to get a sense or feeling – an emotional experience, which goes far beyond the materiality of the garment itself. I feel that even in an updated modern application, each particular historical style comes with the baggage of meanings attached to it and therefore creates a different emotional atmosphere around, as well as inside, the wearer; it changes the energy flow.
LJ: Who are the designers or artists that you most admire?
TS: Alexander MQueen’s genius has always been a source of admiration and inspiration. And I am totally in love with Antonio Gaudi’s architectural marvels. No matter how many times I visit Barcelona I just can’t get enough.
LJ: What drew you to fashion and design? Is there an iconic image in particular you remember seeing, or have drawn inspiration from?
TS: I think what inspired me and got me on the creative path in the first place wasn’t a visual of some sort but rather a feeling. I became fascinated by fashion when I realised how powerful the medium is. I came to understand that just switching the way one dresses can influence others, and at the same time each particular look adjusts one’s personality as well. I believe that’s why fashion is such a force – it sells not just a dress but everything this dress represents, a whole package of emotions, feeling and meanings attached to it. Such a complicated relationship is exactly what inspires me the most. I’m always curious about what is hidden behind the surface. And my belief is that the richer the surface is, then the more protected you become inside. That’s probably why i’m so obsessed with textures and surface embellishments (smiles).
LJ: What’s the last dream you remember having?
TS: I can’t remember any recent dream in particular; they usually fade away quickly. They are always colourful adventures – saving the world, friends or total strangers from some weird event – I jump, fight and fly a lot! Sometimes I’m even blessed with seeing my future designs.
LJ: And did you always want to be a designer? As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
TS: Honestly, it’s a funny thing, I don’t have clear memories about who or what I wanted to be when I grow up. No particular occupation comes to mind. But I always wanted to become someone who has an influence on other people – the good kind, of course! As a kid I dreamed of being a queen or a princess, or a cosmonaut. As I reached my teens I got into creative arts and sewing, and that’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do ever since.
Art Director & Retoucher @ XRay Doll
A man of many talents, Wassim Bazzi is the wizard behind art direction, design and digital retouching at XRay Doll. Described as a creative mercenary, inspired by comic books and the wonderful world of pop culture, I sat down and asked him about XRay Doll’s plan to take over the world.
LJ: What is your background?
WB: I originally started as a graphic designer. I got my design degree and started designing for a photographer, working as his assistant, and he was teaching me photography as I went. Then his business exploded - figuratively, not literally - and he moved overseas. I was already dabbling in photo editing at that point, so I got a job as a scanner in a studio, and did a bit of design for them. I learnt retouching from the retouchers there and then became a full-time retoucher.
LJ: You make it sound like it was all so easy!
WB: Haha, yeah - I got pretty lucky. My first employer, he used to call me ‘Osama’ - he told me “Osama you son of a bitch, you gotta get yourself an ABN, you’re not my employee, you’re a freelancer! From this day, I give you freedom!” (laughs). After running my own design business for a few years, I gave up because it did my head in. And I was having more fun and earning more money doing retouching ‘cause at that point, no-one was really doing it in Sydney. From there, I started getting jobs in advertising as a retoucher and working for advertising photographers, and interiors and architectural photographers. I started getting into art direction as well, freelancing for agencies.
LJ: So where did XRay Doll come into all this?
I’d learnt so much from working with art directors and agencies, and I loved it; but I didn’t want to just focus on art direction for advertising agencies - I wanted to focus on the creative side too, and I really enjoyed applying the skills I learned into fashion. So I was forging my own little path, and then I met Chrissie (Hall, XRay Doll’s photographer).
LJ: Was that at VAiG Studios?
WB: Yeah, I met Chrissie when she was a photgrapher there. The owner of VAiG, Gary Logan - god rest his soul - he was the one who first suggested we work together. Chrissie got back from the UK right when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with art direction. She showed me her portfolio, and I said “yeah, maybe we should work together”… then Gary said to me, “her folio is actually one of the best high fashion folios I’ve seen. You two should work together”. That just sealed the deal for me. Water Assassin was our first shoot, and from there we started XRay Doll.
LJ: What’s your masterplan for XRay Doll?
WB: (impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger) My masterplan is to crush the enemies, see them driven before me and hear the lamentation of their women! (laughs). I guess the masterplan is to get paid for doing what we love. That’s what it’s all about. I mean, now we do what we love because we love it, while we have other jobs that pay the bills. I want to have enough clients so that Chrissie and I can be as creative as we want full-time. I know it’s a long way to go, but you gotta start somewhere.
LJ: Going back to childhood, who or what were your biggest inspirations?
WB: My biggest inspiration was 70s anime - I’m talking obscure, 70’s anime like Future Boy Conan, and comic books. I grew up reading comics like Superman and James O’Barr’s The Crow. Watching a lot of television, growing up with a lot of pop culture - I came here as an immigrant, so that’s how I learnt about culture in general. I watched Perfect Strangers every afternoon - Balky, man I related to that motherf****r. I was Balky!
When I was in high school, I got into photography and I loved nudes, and bodyscapes… bodyscapes because it was like close-ups and weird lighting and angles - it’s like a little cross-section of the body that looks like something else when you’re far away, then you go ‘ahh’, that’s actually an elbow, or whatever.
LJ: What’s the first iconic image that just grabbed you when you were a kid?
WB: The Superman logo. I wanted to get it as a tattoo on my chest, but you’d have to wax it every day. No-one wants hair growing through the Superman logo.
LJ: What about iconic images in fashion?
WB: One image that always stuck in my head, that made me want to create the kind of fashion imagery that we’re doing now was the ‘Pervert’ campaign - there was a girl sitting on a chair wearing just a sweater, no bottoms, and there’s a kitten on her crotch - and the tagline was ‘Purr, purr… Pervert’. I had that up on my wall. [That campaign] was everywhere. I think I was like 15. I mean, it helped that I was hormonal and was like “yeah! Alright, that’s exactly what i’m feeling” - but as an image, it really stuck with me. That was definitely an iconic image.
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See more of Wassim’s work at his website: