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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Bradley

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Paradisiac

Zaria, the 24-year-old mononymous designer behind the space-age New York brand, talks engineering, cyberpunk, and rejecting traditional design paths.

 


MODELS glide down a catwalk as if propelled forward by a conveyor belt, with a deliciously green-screened spaceship floating behind them. The clothing is sexy but singular: low-slung bleached pants; crucifixes made out of polylactic acid; a silvery crop top, ombréd with red clay and glossed to the abdomen; a buttery, long-sleeved black dress, worn like a second layer of skin.


They're the offerings of PARADISIAC, a fledgling New York label run by the mononymous designer (and engineering student) Zaria. The clothes are also a portal into an independent fashion scene becoming less reliant on nostalgia and more on innovation ("I think I just enjoy romanticizing the future, maybe because these days it looks chaotic and daunting instead of utopian," the 24-year-old designer told Erity Magazine).


We sat down with Zaria to talk about the brand's SS24 drop, EARTH 2 PARADISIAC. Read on below:



Savannah Eden Bradley: Give me the run-down on PARADISIAC.

Zaria: PARADISIAC was created out of the times I spent alone in high school daydreaming. I used to imagine different worlds inspired by the music and movies I enjoyed. I think it was just an escape from things I felt in reality, which at that time lacked confidence. I always wanted a brand [of my own] and knew that the perfect message behind that would be an escape from reality to a world of paradise. As a designer, I've been creating since I was 5, but when the pandemic came, I knew it was exactly what I needed to give it a try.


I started by reworking racing tees, which taught me a lot about creativity with silhouettes. In 2021, I decided to make my transition to made-to-order clothing, and, essentially, I’ve just been bringing to life the fantasies in my head. I want my customers to feel what I feel and to become the character I have [sic], because through that I feel empowered. It’s a good feeling.


SEB: Let’s talk about your most recent SS24 drop — “EARTH 2 PARADISIAC.” It’s sexy and cybernetic, but also has a bit of a nostalgic texture, very late ‘90s. What inspired the collection?

Z: I think, lately, I've felt that my brand’s identity was not as obvious as I’d have liked, and the collections weren’t cohesive (which is fine sometimes!). Right now, though, I wanted a clear message for myself, a refresh. “Spaced out cyber girls who love fashion” — that's what my brand is in the most literal sense. So, I thought: why not make a collection that takes it as literal as we can — showing pieces [on models] walking down a space station runway. I imagined the models walking to meet up at a party somewhere on another planet. I think the nostalgia comes from my personal style. I’m a fan of the low-waisted fit-and-flare silhouettes... they’re hard to escape. But I also wanted to make an effort to play with new shapes and frames.


SEB:  With that in mind — how is your own style reflected in the work that you’re doing?

Z: I love embodying a character when I get dressed for the day. So, when creating pieces, it's usually in an effort to create a look [and bring] to life a story I thought of. Silhouettes and color palettes are usually based on things I’d pick up when dressing, but it’s [also] something I’m aiming to escape. My love for technology, cyberpunk, [and] futuristic aesthetics play a huge part in my designs as well. Again, I’m seeking to embody a character of who I would be in said environment.



SEB:  Right now, everything is handmade to order. Was sustainability a priority when launching PARADISIAC? What are your design values?

Z: Sustainability was the foundation of my brand, as I started by reworking pre-loved clothes. It’s definitely a mission of mine to keep this up as much as I can while also expanding. Right now, the value I want to work on most is inclusivity. I want anyone to be able to see themselves in my pieces. I want to see my work on more bodies, all vastly different. I want to see my pieces styled in different ways than I would have thought of. Getting my brand out there is so important to me — not for the money I can make out of it, but because seeing others appreciate my art and learning new perspectives is what makes doing this so fun for me.


"'Spaced out cyber girls who love fashion' — that's what my brand is in the most literal sense."

SEB:  I was struck by your jewelry offerings, which are so precisely rendered and cut. You don’t see many burgeoning womenswear brands devoting time to accessories. I’d love to know more about your specific approach to jewelry design. Everything is 3D-printed, correct?

Z: Yes, everything is 3D printed at the moment, and I’d love to venture into metal casting and other materials and mediums soon. I think most brands don’t branch into accessories as quickly — it’s more of an afterthought. It’s great to focus on one specialty, but I’m a very spontaneous person and I like intersectionality. I wanted to get my hands on 3D-printed accessories as soon as I got my printer. When styling looks out of my pieces, I was sick of trying to find accessories that went well [together], and I thought, “Why not make my own?”


When I send a model down the runway, I want her to be in PARADISIAC top to bottom. All of the designs so far come from sketches I have thought up. I think these have done a good job of bringing together a brand identity. As an engineer, I seek to bring it up a level — many levels. I want fullly-wearable pieces that are printed and just as intricate as the ones that I have out now.


SEB:  Which brings me to my next question: how does your experience as an engineering student inform your aesthetic decisions? Do you ever see yourself working at a house or getting your Fashion master's?

Z: As an engineer, I’m an innovator. I’m constantly looking for ways that something can improve, which is great for the sake of a futuristic brand, but also detrimental in the fact that my successes are not something I get to celebrate for too long. I’m working on slowing myself down sometimes to reflect [...] As an engineer, I also love raw technology. I like seeing the mechanisms behind the machine, so I’m drawn to a lot of see-through, plastic or glass-like textures, shiny things, and materials and structures of that nature.


I definitely don’t yet possess the technical skills to uphold traditional methods of sewing and construction which a lot of houses maintain. I would love to get training in it, though, for the sake of enhancing the quality of my own pieces. However, I’m not even sure if I’d be able to ever generate ideas for someone else, unless it’s centered around collaboration. I like to be free in what I do and to avoid any areas of restraint. I love school, though, so given the opportunity, I would enjoy going back. But we also live in an age where everything you could possibly want to learn is online. I enjoy [my work the] most when seeking to elevate my skill set — because I can learn at my own pace and there is more space for interpretation and personal touch. 🌀


 

Savannah Eden Bradley is a writer, fashion editor, gallerina, Gnostic scholar, reformed It Girl, and future beautiful ghost from the Carolina coast. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the fashion magazine HALOSCOPE. You can stalk her everywhere online @savbrads.

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