VANEBON is a fashion label created by the designer Vanessa Bon, Mexican-born who began her career at Central Saint Martins and then continued onto the prestigious fashion BA of the University of Westminster. After working for SHOWSTUDIO Machine-A, and completing internships at brands of the likes of Thom Browne and Kiko Kostadinov, she presented her first collection titled “VB2020- Over the Galaxy of the Ultra-Vixens” as part of London Fashion Week. Ever since, her work has been shown in magazines like HUNGER, Office, DAZED, Grazia and Rolling Stone, to name a few. The brand has now dressed celebrities like Björk, Ava Max, and Rina Sawayama, and she was recently named ‘One of the Top 6 Latin Designers to watch’ by Vogue Mexico.
VANEBON, her eponymous label, is inspired by the figure of the retro-futurist heroines to create a wardrobe befitting the female of the future. Ultra-feminine silhouettes converge with sharp panelling, volume with structure, luxurious embellishments with bi-tech materials to create a fusion of glamour and sportswear.
Hi Vanessa, welcome to RED EYE Metazine, being a Mexican-born, share with us a few highlights about your background as a child and how this influenced your career?
As a child I was truly obsessed with cinema, the theatre and music. I participated in just about any musical in and outside of school… I thought the clothes were such a fundamental part of it all. I loved their ability to transform a character, but also a person. I loved the versatility of growing through fashion. I think this eagerness to discover oneself through different aesthetics is what led me to pursue it.
You have such a powerful experience as you worked with so many in the fashion industry. When did you decide that it was time to follow your own path and when VANEBON was born? How important is educational background for a creative in the fashion industry?
Oh, education was key for me. But I also think education, more like experience, can come from all sorts of places. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong path, at the end of the day, fashion would be utterly boring if we all followed the cookie-cutter process, no? University for me was an INCREDIBLE opportunity to meet extraordinary creatives, to learn, and above all to be able to self-critique. Industry further reinforced and expanded my skills, and that’s where I truly started to get the hang of it. VANEBON started right after I graduated, as my loud creative outlet during the pandemic. I then started seeing people and artists being excited about what I do, and I decided to go for it. It’s been an intense but highly rewarding ride, and I’m eager to grow and keep developing the brand.
How would you describe your creative process as a visual identity? How has your work developed over time? What significant discoveries have you made?
It’s an everyday thing for me, discovering, strengthening and being able to diversify my visual identity. I’ve discovered, the best and only way to create is through being ridiculously oneself. The more I’ve explored who I am personally through style and clothing, the more authentic and powerful the ideas that follow.
Tell us more about your collaboration with BJÖRK. How do you approach the inspirational process when it comes to creating garments for a multi-disciplinary artist like her?
It’s hard, Björk is one of the greatest artists of all times… imagine the pressure! I will forever be grateful to her for launching my career, she truly opened an unimaginable number of doors for me and VANEBON. I enjoy having artists as starting points for a design brief. They already are INCREDIBLE people and have their thing (for which they’re known for), so you just mix that thing with your thing: they’re personality and taste, with the brand DNA you have developed as a designer, hopefully resulting in a powerful mix.
The best things are usually created when people follow their own vision rather than just pursuing success or money for its own sake. How challenging is the business part for you as a designer and founder of your own label?
I think for us it’s been a learning curve, a lot of trial and error… but I see it as a challenge. It’s like, level 1 is developing a brand DNA, and level 1000 is narrowing it down to something that holds that personality but is also functional, affordable, and easily produced. It’s not simple, but it’s exciting to figure out how to tackle.
How can a garment be recognised as a functional one and why is this important for who is wearing it?
For me, a garment is functional when it serves a purpose, and it doesn’t heavily impede you fulfilling yours in daily life. Through experience, I’ve learnt we need zips, pockets, buttons, and beautiful linings, for it to be fashion, not costume.
Can you define the term “long-lasting” in fashion? How long should last a garment?
I’d say garments should be “long-lasting”, but never ineradicable. They should last enough for you to cherish them, and to flaunt them. But that’s very different to “everlasting” and detrimental to the environment. In my opinion, a garment should last as long as it’s useful or dear to someone.
How do you face challenges in such a complex industry and how do you approach potential customers/stores?
I take the challenges as they come, I’ve been really lucky in that the customer base has been organic. We’ve learnt a lot from the stores and people that buy and, with that knowledge we produce and actively look for more clients.
How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?
I enjoy the lavish projects where we can blow our brains out with creativity, that’s when I feel most in my element. But these also serve as wonderful inspirational grounds to then dissect into many different products, you can abstract a showpiece into countless objects: a top, a necklace, a bag??? It’s all a cycle in the end, an extravagant piece informs simpler ones and vice versa.
You’re both the creative and the business head of your company. How do you balance your time between the two?
Honestly, with a lot of help. When you’re in charge of it all, it’s a constant learning process… I swear I get admin lessons everyday! It’s not my favourite thing, but I enjoy feeling proficient and like I’m learning. Dividing my time also makes the creative parts of the day way more enjoyable!
How should a person feel about wearing a VANEBON?
Confident, hot, rare.
How do you think AI + digital art can improve the fashion industry in a positive way? Name us a few creatives that you work with, are there others you would like to collaborate with?
AI + digital art can continue to make fashion a wonderful escapist place for people to be immersed in, to experiment, to create things beyond what we’ve seen, and of course to reduce waste. I’ve worked with Oswaldo Erreve, Synergy Studio, and Sarah Mayer & Alexander Kurmanin for a project with GLITCH Magazine. I’m open to proposals!
A letter to your future self. What would you write?
I hope you look back and fondly remember the past lessons and efforts that these have made you grow into what we always wanted to be. But above all, I hope you’re happy, fulfilled, and brimming with excitement for the next chapter. Are we rich yet?