London designer Ada Zanditon graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2007, interned for Alexander McQueen and has been perfecting her personal style ever since. The “modular construction” technique she uses today in her Ada Zanditon Couture line is the result of years of development. Her “warrior goddess” style can be seen in the delicately strong and intricately sculpted pieces that have been worn by the likes of Daphne Guinness and Mariah Carey.
Disorder: What are you working on right now?
Ada Zanditon: Luxurious handmade accessories and bespoke clothing for the Warrior Goddess within you! I also co-create/collaborate with artists, brands, celebrities and contemporary dance performers.
D: What people, places or things inspire you?
AZ: Many strong women inspire me, especially B. Akerlund - fashion activist and grand high priestess of the Residency. Her creative vision, passion and drive is truly inspiring, and she is a shining light to me. Los Angeles is a really inspiring place where unbounded nature and mountains meet the vast city. London, steeped in history and culture, where I have grown up, will always continue to inspire me — both places are diverse and teeming with creativity.
D: What artists turn you on?
AZ: I saw the show by the painter Kerry James Marshall at the Musem of Contemporary Art in LA last month — his work is deeply moving in terms of subject, composition and content. I recently collaborated with artist Justin Sullivan, The Black Atlas (@theblackatlasla), whose entire universe of work really resonates with how I experience the world. I love the work of my friend Magnhild Kennedy, Damselfrau (@damselfrau), who makes exquisite ornate masks. I think the key narrative in any art that turns me on is the meeting point between identity and the level of technique displayed. I am less turned on by pure concept without a certain level of artistry.
D: What is your ultimate ambition? Who do you want to be when you grow up?
AZ: Doing more of what I am doing now on a slightly bigger scale, but without the scale detracting from my role as a maker. I see designers like Azzedine Alaia and Iris van Herpen as role models, although I do want to have some pieces that are at a really accessible price point but still not overproduce them.
D: What got you started?
AZ: Paper, aged four! I built my first multi story model of a house. But in all seriousness, becoming an intern at Alexander McQueen aged 19 really opened my eyes and the door into the world of fashion.
D: What has been the biggest lesson along the way?
AZ: The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that whilst cash is king in business, creative vision is legacy. Manifesting who I really am and my vision, those unique ideas and ways of seeing, must lead everything else.
D: Who was your first crush?
AZ: Bananarama! Hats, lipstick, leather jackets, expertly tousled hair — I’m still working on that last element.
D: Who are your favourite fictional heroes?
AZ: Leeloo from The Fifth Element, because she’s the ultimate divine feminine superhero who saves the world with the power of the elements and love! I also love Wonder Woman — one of the most lovely gifts a friend of mine gave me is a vintage Wonder Woman pop up book and he said, “Whenever you need strength, look at this and know that this is you.”
D: What and where do you like to eat or drink?
AZ: In LA there are so many places I love to eat! Sqirl, M Cafe and Wild Living Foods. In London I love som saa and Mildreds. I prefer to eat an organic, mostly vegan diet and some fish. I love hot and spicy food and eating close to the earth.
D: Where and when do you feel most yourself?
AZ: I feel most myself wherever I am — I meditate every day — and wherever that is, that is when I feel most present within myself and I try to take that feeling with me for the rest of the day.
D: What is your worst trait?
AZ: Indignation, because while I feel really strongly (boiling rage) about what is unjust in our world, it expends a lot of energy and isn’t the path to change. The hardest continuing lesson is learning how to redirect that energy in a more productive way, for example, by volunteering for Crisis in London during this last Christmas period.
D: What would you most like to change in the world?
AZ: Intolerance of others in every form. That we (humanity) are so diverse is what makes life beautiful. If the idea of a better world is increasingly homogenized, it doesn’t sound like much of a utopia to me. How we will live on this planet with an increasing population and fewer natural resources requires huge change, however, acceptance and compassion is needed as much as innovation and change in terms of how we consume and expend energy.
D: What talent do you wish you had?
AZ: I don’t know if it’s a talent, but I really wish I could fly. I dream about being able to do it all the time and I don’t drive, so it would be really handy.
D: What is your dominant characteristic?
AZ: Determination - my commitment to my creative vision - focus and direction.
D: What do you appreciate most in your friends and coworkers?
AZ: I most appreciate loyalty, true-heartedness and honesty.
D: What innovation or invention do you love most?
AZ: I love the possibilities that 3D printing has to offer. It is a technology I have been experimenting with for some time now, and I see developing the fine jewellery side of my collections in the not too distant future. The possibility to create intricate objects on a fine scale is what excites me most about it personally.
D: Unpaid endorsement: what can you recommend?
AZ: In everyday life my Tangle Teezer (hairbrush) is essential, and in my work my Wacom graphics tablet for drawing intricate shapes that can be laser cut or made into press knives — the key to creating each collection.
D: What is your idea of happiness?
AZ: Creating my vision as a designer, experiencing life with family and friends, collaborating with other creative talents and being grateful. I believe gratitude for the experience of life is the key to happiness.
D: What is your present state of mind?
AZ: Strong and focused — particularly with the present state of the world, I feel that to focus on remaining strong in mind, steadfast and hopeful is very important.
D: What would you do if you were not doing this?
AZ: Nothing, I have absolutely no idea. I have been so focused on my work as a creator for such a long time that I genuinely cannot imagine doing anything else.
Photography: Paolo Steve
Styling: Jens Melsom
Models: Alex Moss, Estelle Digridi
Shot on location at The House of St. Barnabas