Exploring The New Lezanne Viviers HQ
Creative wunderkind Lezanne Viviers has taken the SA fashion world by storm, and her next chapter includes a gorgeous flagship space for her designs.
In the leafy Johannesburg suburb of Parkview, a three-level, 3480m² property has been transformed into a monument to Mid-Century Modern design by its new owner, Lezanne Viviers.
Just six months after completing the renovation of her Hyde Park apartment, the former creative director decided to move into the abode, which was designed by German architectural firm Osmond and De Kock and built in 1960. But the property isn’t just Lezanne Viviers’ new home: it’s her flagship space Lotus House, from where Viviers has launched her eponymous fashion label.
Included in the property is a collaborative working studio section, a concept store offering a selection of rare finds, a gallery of contemporary local art, a garden for Japanese tea ceremonies and an atelier for fittings. There’s even talk of establishing an artist-in-residency programme.
Drawing on her fashion experience working with designer Marianne Fassler, as well as her knowledge of the arts, Viviers says she wants Lotus House to be a meeting ground for creative people from different backgrounds. The gallery, for example, will be a ‘nice, accessible place to bridge the gap between the stereotypical old-fashioned art world and the streets,’ Viviers says.
Downstairs, we’re greeted by German-born milliner Lena Heinrich of Studio Lennie, who collaborated with Viviers on their first hat range as part of the VIVIERS collection. Included in the home’s lower level is the VIVIERS fitting room, workshop studio and concept store stocking limited-edition garments, custom outfits, handmade Japanese paper and ceramics. Here, artisans are sewing and cutting patterns and fabrics, while bright clothing in various stages of readiness seems to jostle for rail and counter space.
‘VIVIERS focusses on the senses and paradoxes – the masculine femininity of the pieces is as sophisticated as it is rebellious,’ Viviers says. ‘If something is really beautiful, I want to make it ugly. If it’s ugly, I want to add something like a petal.’
The label isn’t womenswear or menswear. It’s not any particular gender or age. It’s not just an African brand, nor is it only specific to Johannesburg. And it’s not tied to any specific theme or season. VIVIERS cannot be confined to trends or placed in a box.
‘I want VIVIERS to be timeless,’ Viviers says. ‘It’s about amazing craftsmanship, colours, textures, silhouettes and fabrics. I’m working really hard playing with cuts to get them perfect so that they work on real women. With all our different shapes and sizes in the studio, we all try on the clothes.’
Strolling out into the lower garden – which is flourishing with giant delicious monsters, marigolds planted in colour blocks of orange and yellow, and exotic flora such as nightshade, staghorn ferns and bromeliads – Viviers continues to describe her vision.
‘The garden was like Jumanji and we had to cut quite a lot of it back because its plants were growing out of the house, which was a structural nightmare,’ she says of the project, which also involved clearing out roots and undergrowth to create a pathway to the lowest part of the garden – the soon-to-be location of the Japanese tearoom.
‘This will be a space where you can meditate, read and relax. Flower, art and book clubs can meet here. I want this house to be part of that community.’
Potential VIVIERS clients will be able to visit the studio by appointment, and have the option of having a bespoke garment made or choosing from one of the numbered pieces. Ready-to-wear off-the-rail garments are also on sale, which form part of the bigger seasonal collection, but Viviers is quick to point out that her clothing label and Lotus House as a whole will be aligned with art week rather than fashion week.
‘I want the brand to be a collaboration between art, fashion and pioneering people who are interested in collaborations,’ says Viviers. ‘One of my dearest friends, Juanita Kotze, taught me that changing one’s mind is a sign of growth. And this project has been such a joy.’
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment at Lotus House.
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