Zakary Weinrich's DEBUT Collection Highlights the Mystery of the Southeast
Growing up, Zakary Weinrich always felt a spark of creativity he wasn’t sure how to express. As a teenager, he lived abroad in Japan, where he attended E.J. King High School, and after high school, Zakary took a year off before joining the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in San Diego for five years onboard USS Carl Vinson and deployed to the Persian Gulf and South China Sea as an Operations Specialist and Air Intercept Controller prior to earning a degree in Fashion Design from FIDM. As an Advanced Fashion Design Student, Zakary is working on his first official collection for FIDM’s Annual DEBUT Runway Show event live-streaming on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 5:00 PM PDT. We caught up with the designer to learn more about his sartorial creations and the inspiration behind them.
Tell us about your DEBUT collection: My collection is entitled “Southern Charms” and is inspired by the mystery of the southeastern United States. It’s a peek into another realm, a place where creation bows to the strength of the woman who inspires me — the woman who steps out of the shadows of the oak trees with moss dripping from their branches and disappears into the mists that cling to the ground. I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for a while growing up and there really is a magic surrounding the old, southern coastal cities that has to be experienced.
What silhouettes and fabrics can we expect to see? I wanted to invoke a powerful presence through my silhouettes, building around a woman’s body to construct a new persona. Crisp cotton shirting builds shapes that are constrained by sharp tailoring and where form and structure prevail, weightless chiffon and silk organza ground my designs back into their supernatural roots.
What is your point of view, as a designer? So many of us move through life afraid to live authentically. We’re so consumed by how we might be perceived that we never allow ourselves to fully develop. As a designer, my purpose and intention are solely to provide the space for someone to recognize the beauty that comes from staying true to yourself — a place to realize that the critical voices you hear are few compared to the masses moving around you who are inspired by the strength of your authenticity.
How do you hope people will feel when they see your designs? I want you to feel intimidated, to have a sense of unease in your stomach that causes you to ask yourself, “Who is she?” and then be inspired to channel that energy. The only thing stopping you from stepping into an unshakable place of confidence is grabbing a candle and walking alone into the darkest, scariest parts of yourself. Venture further into the discomfort until you find the broken pieces and the “shadow self” you hide, and realize the beauty you’ve been denying yourself and the world around you.
What inspires you as a creative and as a fashion designer? The women in my life have shaped me tremendously. They’ve built me up, telling me I can accomplish anything, that I’m enough, and that I’m important, but are denied the same advice. I see them pressured to look and behave a certain way, to fulfill a role or an obligation. I want to be the energy, the force in their lives, and to anyone who wears my pieces, that tells them to keep going — the voice of encouragement and empowerment whispering endlessly, “You’re strong, you’re powerful, you’re beautiful.” I want to unlock that potential in everyone.
What is a lesson you’ve learned as you’ve been working on your collection? The collection you’ll see this summer is not the collection that I first drew up in 2020. Throughout this program I’ve come to realize that I was projecting the sort of confidence I wanted to embody onto this imaginary woman. I was giving her permission to step into the fullness of her being, but hadn’t done the same myself. I recognize my potential now. I’ve begun to shake the shackles of my own self-doubt, planting my feet like a sprinter ready to spring forward with an unshakeable and determined focus. I’ve started on the journey to transforming the critical voice in my mind into one of objective critique that pushes me beyond my own limits and into the space where success grows without instilling doubt.
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? I thought pattern making meant designing prints, I had never sewn a thing, and couldn’t draw a straight line much less illustrate garments. FIDM helped me to take the attention to detail that I developed in the Navy and apply it to an entirely new skill set. My A.A. in Fashion Design laid the foundation for cultivating ideas and bringing them to life but DEBUT poured gasoline on a small fire and has set my creativity ablaze.
Any advice for someone considering applying to be a DEBUT student? The DEBUT program isn’t for everyone. It really appeals to those students who feel their creativity and potential starting to grow beyond their current capacity, who yearn for the skills and techniques that will allow them to push themselves far beyond where they think they can go. When you start developing a design journal and working on garments to bring to your interview, push yourself. Go bigger, go bolder, and stay true to yourself. You can always find inspiration from other designers but it’s your unique vision that the leaders and instructors of the program want to see. Trust yourself — you’ll rise to the occasion.
Keep up with Zakary on Instagram @zakweinrich.