When you count Iris Van Herpen as a fan you know you’re doing something right. That's the case for designer Yoav Hadari who was chosen by the space-age designer to receive the Sarabande Foundation’s much sought-after scholarship, officially joining the ranks of alumni including Craig Green and Stefan Cooke. Following Sarabande’s first showroom as part of Paris Fashion Week, today they unveiled their collection at the Haggerston studios accompanied by a fashion film by Ruth Hogben. In an exploration of identity (Hadari being non-binary and recently discovered they’re neurodivergent), as well as their father’s struggles with Lewy body dementia, their S/S 23 collection, Cerebral Body, sent them down a research rabbit hole into the world of neuroscience.
‘I always assumed I was just very shy, but there were always social cues I didn't understand’, Hadari explains of their neurodivergence over zoom. As an umbrella term, neurodivergence refers to the variations in cognitive function that impact learning, attention, and in Hadari's case sociability. ‘I grew up in Israel, in a time when people got diagnosed less often’, they explains. ‘The awareness was very different and there was a lot of stigma’. The designer recounts how it was meeting classmates at Central Saint Martins who were also neurodivergent that started them on the path towards their own diagnosis. ‘When I found out it meant a lot of release for me.’
Hadari’s research for this collection began shortly after their father passed from complications due to Lewy body dementia, which causes cognitive decline. That, along with their own neurodivergent diagnosis, enhanced their fascination with the brain. ‘I get excited thinking about the conceptual side of the brain,’ they explain. ‘And that aspect of reading about the brain in different states’. These notions translated into a collection that was all about deconstruction. Taking the signature spliced tailoring first seen at Central Saint Martins A/W 22 MA show in February, Hadari introduced a slew of innovative techniques inspired by the ‘process of decay’. A standout piece dubbed the Neurogenesis Jacket was embroidered using strips of tulle – a technique they picked up while working at Thom Browne – and pulled yarn giving it an unravelled appearance. The choice of blue and white was inspired by brain scans and Armenian Kütahya ceramics that Hadari’s mother collected.
The deep dive into the scientific world didn't stop with research alone. Inspired by notions of collective consciousness and the vastness of the subconscious, Hadari turned to AI – specifically generative adversarial networks (GANs) – to create a unique print. The novel technology creates images using data it's been fed; in Hadari’s case, this meant generating faces using CCTV-harvested information. ‘They look like real people, but none of them exist’, they explain. ‘Then we fed those faces to machine learning, to create a print that interacts with EKG wave lengths’. The designer first experimented with creating digital prints with AI for the first time with artist and classmate Lilian Rose while studying at Central Saint Martins. ’It's really interesting to see how a machine interprets human concepts’.
Often framed within dystopian terms, the role of machines in art and in fashion is a decisive one. As fashion’s digital future continues to dominate the zeitgeist, its emerging talents like Hadari who are showing how evolving technologies are pushing the boundaries of fashion and have the potential to make things easier for designers. ‘I want to collaborate with AI,’ Hadari says on whether or not they’ll be turning to AI with future collections. ‘It's easy to second guess yourself. It’s another way to get a fresh take on things as well.’
While Hadari admits that a lifetime as a gamer has made them increasingly comfortable with using technology as part of their creative process, that doesn’t mean they’re shying away from collaborating with other creatives. After meeting revered fashion filmmaker and SHOWstudio collaborator Ruth Hogben at a Sarabande event Hadari asked if she would work with them on a film showcasing their collection. Like many creatives around their age, the designer was aware of Hogben’s work with Nick Knight for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh. ‘It was like talking to just another person, another friend. It felt like she was reading my mind the whole time’ they say. Keeping true to the overarching themes of the collection, Hadari’s signature tailoring is further distorted in the fast-paced film. ‘From the first time I showed her my board and my references it just clicked and she was in my mind since’
Tackling heavy themes for anyone can be difficult, but for the emerging talent, the process of creating this collection was a therapeutic one, albeit not without its challenges. ‘Therapy is hard’, they explain. ‘It’s really difficult and I feel like the design process is also really difficult. But when I have something that I’ve made in physical form then I feel a lot of love and I’m really happy about it. But in the process, many times, it’s hard’.