Lady Gaga’s ‘You And I’ Leather Designer Zana Bayne’s Exclusive Interview

Photo: Zana Bayne

No doubt you Little Monsters have already nailed the “watch it, learn the dance, load the video to YouTube, repeat” routine on Lady Gaga’s music video for “’Yoü And I,” which has shown up scattered like a trillion Easter eggs all over the interwebz over the past 48 hours. You’ve probably already gone and pored over all the envy-making FASHUN rampant in every frame.

You were all, “Where can I get a pair of those heels? Or that hat? Or ZOINKS, is that the custom leather HARNESS I’VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR?!??” Well, great news for you. Not only do we have aaaaall the fashion credits (thanks to Gaga fashion director Nicola Formichetti), but we’ve nabbed an EXTENSIVE, super exclusive interview and studio tour with Gaga’s leather designer Zana Bayne, courtesy of our main man, Rory Rockmore.

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Soooooooooooooooo, last Saturday I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of the baddest bitches in leather, Miss Zana Bayne, creator and HBIC of Zana Bayne Leather. Who is Zana Bayne?


“I’m a leather accessories designer. If the person asking seems open-minded I tell them I make leather harnesses…if they’re not so open-minded [pause] I tell them I make belts.”

Zana Bayne was born in Seattle and graduated with a BFA in “New Genres” (Conceptual Art) from the San Franciso Art Institute. She then spent some time in Berlin before landing in New York. Since launching her own company, Zana has handcrafted harnesses for some of the music and fashion industries’ elite. Her elegant mix of art/S&M/fashion has captured the eye of such GORGE ladies as Ciara, Kelis, Monica, Milla Jovovich, and Katy Perry. More recently, as we mentioned, her pieces can be seen during the Barnyard Bondage Hoedown that is the new…LADY (F*@&*%$) GAGA, “YOÜ AND I” VIDEO! That’s right…GAGA.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Gaga in Zana Bayne leather, either. The designer is responsible for the custom gold harness ensembles from her SNL performance as well as the black harnesses we saw during her appearance on So You Think You Can Dance. Her blog Garbage Dress is a treasure trove of photographs that chronicle her entire creative process as well as some DIY tips on how to modify your own leather to make it truly badass. If you check it out right now you can see the Zana Bayne Leather Fall/Winter 2011 Lookbook and video. I love me a good video lookbook.

Photo: Zana Bayne

Photo: Zana Bayne

Photo: Zana Bayne

Photo: Zana Bayne

+INTERVIEW

How did you get into leather?
I started out in conceptual art and spent most of my time trying not to get into fashion. I loved making things with my hands, and commercial art was too taboo. I had kind of an organic start…it wasn’t about making collections. I started out selling a few pieces on Etsy…it started with two, then it was four, then six…I don’t like wearing what other people wear and accessories are more versatile than clothing. My accessories can fit from a 22-inch waist to a 52-inch waist and they’re versatile enough where you can pair what’s typically seen as bondage with a wedding dress.

What was the first piece you ever made?
It was a basic harness made of undyed vegetable leather. I figured, if I could make a belt…I could make a harness.

Who/what are your greatest fashion inspirations?
The people around me. I design for myself or for friends of mine. I think “How would this person integrate this into his/her wardrobe?” It helps to have creative friends.

What artists would you like to work with or continue to work with?
Ciara. Everytime I see her dance, it makes me want to go to the gym. My friend and I always say things like “FOR THE LOVE OF CIARA, DON’T EAT THAT!” Beyoncé is a f****** goddess. And…Daphne Guinness.

Tell me about your creative process and where you go for inspiration?
Lately I’ve been more focused on collections. My most recent collection was inspired by the matador, and the attitude and power that comes with the torero. It’s also about the masculine character that at the same time is flamboyant. My process starts with fashion and being able to transform any clothing with an accessory. You can take a regular pair of boots and add bootstraps as an accessory to give it more interest.

What were you like in high school?
I hung out with the artsy kids. I was a gothy…dancer. I took jazz, tap, and ballet…and I dated this super goth guy. The best birthday present I’ve ever gotten was a pair of platform patent leather combat boots and a pair of angel wings…from my parents. I always had a purple or red streak in my hair.

What is one fashion trend you’d like to see die a slow and painful death?
I think people should wear whatever they are comfortable wearing.

At this point in the interview, Z had to take a moment to finish a belt a customer was on their way to pick up. I got to see all the behind-the-scenes magic and don’t think I didn’t photograph all of it! I mean HELLO!

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Tell me about the harness as a fashion statement.
A harness instantly transforms the feel of an ensemble. It has rocker/S&M connotations…it makes anything look pretty badass. For females it cinches the waist, which makes it more feminine and gives you a nice shape. In the winter when I wear a sweater without a closure, I add a harness to keep it closed and it adds a new look to the sweater. I also think harnesses are a throwback to back patches in punk culture.

How do you prefer to see your pieces worn?
I love a white button down with a black harness. When I was in London I saw a girl wearing a white shirt dress under a black harness. I love when people wear things in a way I’d never imagined…it inspires me design-wise.

Tell me something most people wouldn’t know about you.
I love Watch The Throne.

Where did Garbage Dress come from?
Garbage Dress…I’ve always like things that are black and shiny. People said they looked like garbage bags. One of my friends told me that was a terrible name…so I kept it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be confident in what you like and don’t like. At the end of the day you need to be confident in your own point of view. You can’t wait for opportunities to happen for you. To quote RuPaul,…”If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gon’ love somebody else?”

If you could only wear one brand for the rest of your…
GIVENCHY!

[Laughs.] That was obviously an easy one. What about your top three fashion icons?
Siouxsie Sioux, Blixa Bargeld, Klaus Nomi, (and my mom).

What would you say was a turning point for your career?
Definitely starting a blog. It’s an accessible portfolio of personal taste. Travel. Travel exposed me to different people and cultures, and forced me to socialize outside of my comfort zone. Also, starting college [a couple years early] gave me the ability to be ahead of the game.

What would your dream collaboration for Zana Bayne Leather be?
Natalia Brilli or something candy-related! Can you imagine, an edible harness? Can I preorder one?!?!

+CHECK OUT THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES PICS FROM THE STUDIO

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

Photo: Rory Rockmore

+MY TOP PICKS FROM THE STORE

The Francesca Harness. This is most certainly one of my favorite pieces, and as per Zana’s advice it’d look BOMB over a white button down.

For the ladies, this Three Strap Belt is the perfect fall accessory.

I’m also loving the CC Harness. It’d look amazing over a shirt, under a blazer…but you don’t want to cover up all the detail on the back, so be sure to take your jacket off every five minutes or so.

And last but certainly not least…my favorite…is the 3-Wing Shoulderpiece. I mean, it doesn’t get more realer than this. And thanks to Zana, I have my birthday outfit already picked out. Who needs Red Bull? Zana Bayne gave me WINGSSSSS.

+ MORE ’YOÜ AND I’ FASHION CREDITS
• Hat by PHILIP TREACY
• Black Jacket by YVES SAINT LAURENT
• Black Pants and Jo Calderone Boots by CHANEL
• Shoes by PLEASER
• Gaga’s Own Vintage Glasses
• Metal Armour and Mermaid Tail by MILLENNIUM FX
• Jo Calderone T-shirt by UNIQLO
• Jo Calderone Pants by DIOR HOMME
• Custom Dresses by HUSSEIN CHALAYAN
• Shoes by CAPEZIO
• Custom Dress and Shoes by JAN TAMINAU
• Hairpin Sunglasses by HAUS OF GAGA
• White Pants and Tyler Kinney Outfit by JAEHO CHOI
• Custom Harness Outfits by ZANA BAYNE
• Yellow Heels by MUGLER
• Vintage Wedding Dress (from Mrs. Germanotta) by NORMA KAMALI
• Veil by PERRY MEEK/HAUS OF GAGA

Gaga tweeted her music video for “Yoü And I” earlier this week, but it makes its television debut this Thursday (TONIGHT!!) at 7:49 p.m. on MTV and Logo during a special called “MTV First.” After the special, head over to MTV.com for a live Q&A with Mother Monster herself! Little Monsters can submit questions through MTV.com and Twitter (using @MTVNews, hashtag #MTVGAGA), so get all your fashion queries ready and SENDSENDSEND, Stylettes!

With the release of this fourth single from her album Born This Way, Gaga has revealed that she’s ALSO the fourth confirmed performer at the 2011 Video Music Awards! Coincidence? We thiiiink…yea, probably (lolololol GOTCHA). Based on her insane pastiche of multiple design aesthetics and given her history of face-melting fashun experimentation, we’re dying to know: What on EARTH will she WEAR??? Lord knows we can’t wait to see how she aims to top The Meat Dress. Dun dun DUNNN.

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