From Schiaparelli to Blade Runner to Prada, plastic raincoats have been a recurring statement piece in the seasonal fashion repertoire. Both futuristic and classic, the PVC garment contains a certain duality that is familiar yet feels novel. It connects the body with its surroundings in a very clear-cut way – to quote Miuccia Prada; the transparent raincoat plays off the divide between “the space of the body and then also this other space outside the clothes; it changes the relationship between what’s inside and outside.”
After discovering that the offer of qualitative and affordable transparent rainwear was basically nil, Johanna Senyk found a fashion partner in Antwerp Academy-trained Peter Hornstein with whom she resolved to fill the gap in the market. Together, they launched their Parisian label Wanda Nylon, becoming the first designer duo to dedicate their innovative talents solely to these surprisingly chic and wearable sartorial devices designed to keep us protected from nature’s elements.
How did you and Johanna meet?
Peter Hornstein: We met at the International Festival for Fashion and Photography in Hyères, where I won a prize for my ‘Bionic’ collection. In it, I already make use of a lot of synthetic materials and hand-moulded PVC pieces. I’ve always liked these kinds of materials. I took part in the fashion contest and Johanna was the person who looked after the contestants. We liked each other right away and a couple of years later, we moved to Paris together and started our collection.
How did the idea for Wanda Nylon come about?
Johanna Senyk: I wanted to buy a transparent raincoat and couldn’t find anything. Then I realized that, although everybody knows this type of classic coat, there was not one brand that produced it. Amongst the disposable raincoats and random designer pieces there was nothing out there. So, we decided to take this idea and translate it for the future. We wanted to create a product that is ecological, comfortable and affordable without losing touch with the fashion aspect.
"To quote Miuccia Prada; the transparent raincoat plays off the divide between 'the space of the body and then also this other space outside the clothes; it changes the relationship between what’s inside and outside.'"
In what sense are the materials ecological?
PH: In order to make a contemporary product we wanted to use ecological materials. It’s a very difficult process and it took us two years to prepare and find the right manufacturers. Today, all our fabrics are made in Europe and almost all the fabrics are recyclable. We are planning to become a 100% recyclable collection – but that takes time.
Do you find it difficult to balance creativity and functionality?
PH: We want to create garments that people really want to wear without compromising on the functionality of rainwear. We were just fed up with how boring conventional rainwear is and we wanted to introduce other values to explore within this type of wardrobe: feeling elegant, sexy, futuristic, avant-garde…
What are your most important goals when creating a collection?
PH: Wearability is very important for us, but we also want to go further and offer real fashion pieces and more experimental pieces made of more hi-tech materials.
What were the inspirations for the Cyclone collection?
JS: Our first collection is a futuristic approach to classic rainwear. It’s a mix of materials and styles that we want to keep as a constant in our collections: the trench, the parka, the reefer... Every season will have different influences but instead of simply telling a story we prefer to create a full wardrobe.
What are your future plans?
PH: We are planning to add other products to the line that are not obviously functional but are total-look items. We both love all plastic materials, the smell, touch and sound of them. We would also like to work with limited editions in collaboration with artists or other designers and we would like to manufacture products for other fashion houses. With the technical knowledge we have acquired, we’re now confident enough to call ourselves experts in this field. And we are planning to open our own shop in the future.
Wanda Nylon has appealed to both women and men, what do you think is the label’s biggest strength?
PH: The combination of fashion and functionality! And our ability to mix an elegant sexiness with a technical, cool attitude. I think it’s the coherence of the collection, together with a set of carefully chosen models and the way they are reworked and given a twist by the use of innovative materials that’s made it a success.
Wanda Nylon is available at Browns and Opening Ceremony in London.
Text by Siska Lyssens
Siska Lyssens is a London-based fashion journalist.