Have you heard of Zoran? No? One gets the feeling he prefers it that way.
Zoran (pronounced ZOR-run) Ladicorbic, known by his first name, doesn’t advertise. He doesn’t have a biography on Oxford Art Online. He has no website to display his collections. He does have a Wikipedia page, but it’s in French.
Very little is known about Zoran’s life. He was born in 1947 in Yugoslavia, and studied architecture in Belgrade before moving to the United States in the 1971. “After five years here, he put together his first collection, consisting of a shirt in three lengths, a pair of pants and a skirt, all in crepe de chine. The tops were ivory; the bottoms black” (3). This formula, a few designs in a limited color palette, became a characteristic of his collections.
In May 1995, in an interview for the Wall Street Journal, Zoran said of his designs, “This is future, this is jet-pack fashion” (1). His most loyal customers are familiar with comfortable surrounding and exotic destinations, and the timeless quality and simple shapes in Zoran’s design appeal to these “Zoranians.” Many of his designs lack popular closures and decorations, including button, bows, beads, snaps, zippers, and ruffles. The simplicity of his designs brings attention to the fine quality natural fabrics Zoran favors; it is difficult to find one of his designs that has not been realized in silk, cashmere, wool and linen.
Color is also important. “The backbone of his line is five easy pieces he devised when he started the business in 1975. The pants, skirt, top, jacket and dress are recycled annually in sumptuous fabrics but always in a limited range of neutral colors — brown, camel, ivory, gray, black” (1). In an article in the New York Times, the author notes that in his collections, “the colors tend to be neutral gray, beige and black with a shot of purple, red or blue” (3).
Most popular in the 1970s and 1980s, Zoran’s designs were featured in several of Vogue’s spreads. His designs were popular with famous clients such as Oprah Winfrey, Candice Bergen, Lauren Bacall, and the late Jackie Onassis. He is also famous for his strong opinions about women’s jewelry, hair, and weight. In an article published in May 1995 in the Wall Street Journal, the author recounts the following event:
Last November, well after midnight and many Stolis, Zoran sat in his loft surrounded by a handful of clients. As it often does, the talk turned to hair. Suanne Orenstein, a Minneapolis buyer, casually asked Zoran whether she should continue to let hers grow.
“No,” he boomed. “You need to cut it — now.”
Draping a tablecloth around Ms. Orenstein and grabbing two pairs of fabric shears, Zoran, working by candlelight, began whacking off hair. He is quite good at this and does it for customers all the time because he hates long hair. He was finished moments later. Ms. Orenstein picked up a hand mirror to inspect the results, hugging Zoran as his friends clapped.
Visitors to Part One and Part Two of The Museum at FIT’s exhibit, Fashion, A – Z, will be familiar with the name Zoran. Part One of the exhibit included one of Zoran’s designs, a purple silk halter ensemble trimmed with ropes, and Part Two, which is open to the public until November 10, 2012, ends with Z, a taupe and crepe jumpsuit designed by Zoran.
The press has been silent about Zoran in the last decade. In an interview recorded on April 18, 1996 in the Chicago Tribune, reporter Teresa Wiltz quotes the strong-willed designer, recording his views on politics, his delights and fears, and his opinion of about the future. His opinion on the future, in 1996, was this: “Very bright. Each generation, they’re always speaking the end. I don’t see yesterday as better. It’s always better tomorrow.”