Focus On: Victor Glemaud

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Haitian-born, New York-based designer Victor Glemaud launched his eponymous leisurewear collection of statement knitwear, designed for all people, genders, races, sizes and personalities, marrying comfort and style, in 2006. The designer was a finalist in the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and honored for his achievements by the Ambassador of Haiti to the United States. For his recent collection – autumn-winter 2020 – Victor used three materials: merino wool, cotton cashmere, and a merino-cotton-ramie blend. Glemaud’s unparalleled sense of color makes his knitted garments even more compelling. A lavender-tomato back-to-front knit set is a highlight. Within his ringer midi dresses and pooling flares are a variety of stitched details that amplify the power of his clothes. His coats, actually fully knit, have the weigh and potency of felted wool. But the best thing Glemaud did on his runway (his first) was show his clothing on a glamorous cast of people of all types. As his turban-clad models – an homage to both his friend Camilla Staerk and the women he grew up with – sauntered around a lounge in the SoHo Grand hotel, audience members could be heard whispering, picking out a must-have pant or bolero sweater. That kind of inclusivity translates to real customers who will be delighted at the prospect of wearing a square-neck minidress with Nike sneakers. Looking back at his previous collections, the autumn-winter 2019 look-book starring Indya Moore, the incredible trans actress from Pose, makes you dream of all the tangerine knits. Pre-fall 2020 has seen Glemaud leaning into his grooviest, hip-swiveling impulses, filled with gorgeous crochet dresses, tunics, and flares. Discover Glemaud’s universe here.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, photos of Victor Glemaud‘s looks from autumn-winter 2020, pre-fall 2020 and autumn-winter 2019.

Focus On: Christopher John Rogers

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Christopher John Rogers is definitely one of New York’s brightest stars among young and independent designers. Baton Rouge–born, Brooklyn-based designer is known for resurrecting glamour, and his whimsical take on eveningwear (think cascading tulle, slimming taffeta suits, pleated skirts) that got Rihanna, Michelle Obama, Lizzo, Cardi B, SZA and Tracee Ellis Ross obsessed and take it to the red carpet. Moreover, Chistopher became one of the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists – this only motivated him to buckle down further. His autumn-winter 2020 is the perfect balance between dramatic gowns and statement pieces that you will love in your day-to-day wardrobe. Spanning a full 40 looks, Rogers’s show had his signature silhouettes – there was the bulbous strawberry-shaped waist, which reappeared on the runway in violet, and he worked in some past references, like Pierrots, the French cinematic clowns that informed last season’s ruffled necklines. As for new inspirations, he cited trash bags, of all things – he told Vogue that a curtain brushing the floor in a Renaissance painting has the same energy as a crumpled garbage bag – and mid-century couturier Madame Grès, whose later work skewed more graphic and progressive than the goddess-draped gowns that made her famous. But what really makes the collection stand out is the masterful combination of bold colours and gorgeous fabrics. Whereas before Rogers had to be resourceful with his textiles, often working with deadstock materials, now he’s able to make patterns and sumptuous fabrics factory-made for his brand. “All of the things that my team and I have been dreaming up, we were able to execute on a level that you haven’t seen from us before,” Rogers summed up. The label is now producing on a larger scale thanks to a purchase from Net-a-Porter. In thinking about the potential commercial nature of his work, Rogers cited the popularity of that strawberry silhouette. “For something that morphs the shape so much, which maybe historically hasn’t been seen as flattering, women from a size 0 to a 14 have ordered the dress,” he said. “It goes to show that it’s not about dressing for the world—it’s about dressing for yourself. We’re not out here making 2,000 units of anything. We’re trying to make a few things for the few people who love it, and really make things that will last.” I can’t wait to see what this designer has in store for the upcoming seasons, looking forward to more of his fantastic splendor!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring artworks by the late Christo; selected looks from Christopher John Rogers‘ SS20 and AW20 collections.

Taking Time. Alaïa AW20

In times like this, it’s strange to write about fashion. But at the same time, oh how I want fashion… Don’t get me wrong: less collections a year is an initiative that needs praise and support. But when I hear such radical things as “no more fashion weeks” or “no more fashion shows”… then what’s the actual sense of it all, other than just clothes? Also, I fear that not only small and emerging labels might struggle and drown in financial problems, but as well independent, legendary houses that don’t have the deserved spotlight. One of them is Alaïa. After producing 10 collections without the house’s founder, Azzedine Alaïa‘s studio has pretty much found its stride, taking liberties while never straying too far from home base. It also found ample inspiration in two satellite events: the exhibition at the Galerie Azzedine Alaïa entitled Alaia and Balenciaga, Sculptors of Shape, and the book Taking Time, a selection of conversations compiled over the years around Alaïa’s imposing, eclectically populated dinner table. Among those featured are Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson, who speak of time as “the first ergonomic product.” For the autumn-winter 2020 line-up, the studio picks up on the late designer’s fascination with ergonomy, in particular through jersey knit. Starting with archival samples and a lifetime’s worth of research, it delved into origami-inspired pleating and came up with a new, openwork iteration that, while visibly true to house codes also pushed the story forward. For the first time, a cape coat ordinarily cut from cloth resurfaced in a dense knit, textured in ovoid reliefs. Knits also proved a foil for a leather corset belt with fringes that fell to mid-thigh. Impractical though it may be, in a season heavy with fringe, that would-be skirt was one of the most compelling pieces around. In that spirit, there were also a few fringed jackets extrapolated from one Mr. Alaïa had left unfinished on a mannequin in his studio. With Alaïa’s original, iconic zip dress headed to the Met exhibition, About Time (which has been indefinitely postponed due to coronavirus), the studio offered up a new, simpler take on that idea in a little black dress. His signature leopard print also appeared in various iterations, in a gathered and belted coat or a knit bodice on an evening gown. Other highlights included velvet dresses in black, deep burgundy (sublime!) or forest green, and an eye-catching jacket and skirt ensemble in laser-cut, embroidered leather that amped up the contrast of matte and shine. That’s why we will always need brands like Alaïa: it’s not just the history and the person, but a place, where you will find a perfectly timeless dress.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Minimalism With A Feel. Deveaux AW20

When Tommy Ton joined Deveaux as creative director two years ago, this New York-based label was a menswear line. Today, its business is in majority womenswear. All those years shooting street style outside the shows have paid off. Ton says observation is only part of it, though; careful listening to what his friends, customers, and friends who have become customers want is also essential. He hears women ask for sleeves that cover their upper arms, pants without pleats and skirts with specific made-to-be-flattering proportions. That may sound dry, but Ton enthuses about such details. He’s not in this for the runway glory, he seems to truly enjoy the nitty gritty of making clothes. After a couple of seasons of shows in New York, Ton and Deveaux’s designer Andrea Tsao opted for a showroom presentation in Paris (pre-corona times…) for autumn-winter 2020. The attractions of this brand aren’t editorial, their efforts are aimed not at magazine pages, but at women’s everyday wardrobes. As people running a small company, Ton and Tsao are practicing sustainability by using fabrics across categories. This time that means they made a shirt dress and a poncho anorak hybrid in the same khaki shade of water-resistant cotton nylon – pragmatic for the brand and for their often on-the-road customers. The New Yorkers are really good in tactile, soft minimalism: The Row, Gabriela Hearst, Khaite and Deveaux are a gang.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.