Thanks to his love of vibrant tropical colours and graphic prints, the fashion designer Victor Glemaud is nearly impossible to miss when he enters a room. On this particular Friday afternoon, Glemaud is wearing aquamarine jeans and a leopard-print shirt as he ducks into Ray’s, a new “faux dive” bar on the Lower East Side, where he’s planning to co-host a fund-raising event for the national grass roots organisation Swing Left later this month. In two days, on Sunday afternoon, the 41-year-old designer will present his spring 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week, but for now, Glemaud has politics and party-planning on his mind.
While other fashion designers are more likely hurrying to finalise their show details in the usual New York Fashion Week mania, Glemaud is preternaturally calm and present during the walk-through as he discusses music and drink offerings with a small team.
In the past few seasons, New York Fashion Week has struggled with notions of identity and relevancy, and with the changes that need to be implemented to make it sustainable for the designers involved. Glemaud seems to have found the formula that works for him: a gallery-style presentation, showcasing enlarged images from his collection’s look book, exhibited in a relaxed, party-like setting. “We have drinks, people hang out, there’s music,” Glemaud says. “And now we’re getting into the groove. People are coming because they hear it’s fun and they like the vibe.”
That’s not to say his eponymous label — which he founded in 2006 and which is best known today for its concise but striking selection of graphic, body-hugging knits — didn’t experience its growing pains, before Glemaud ultimately opted to scale back. “I used to do men’s wear before; I used to do everything. It was too much. It got me sick, it was financially draining. So I decided to do things a different way,” he explains back at his midtown live-work studio, where he’s changed into a cobalt blue pinstripe suit for a dinner hosted by CFDA chairman Tom Ford that night.
Later that Friday afternoon, he’s joined by his friend DJ Mike Nouveau to review the music for Sunday’s presentation, a two-hour playlist of mostly soul and disco tracks to complement both the venue’s loungelike setting and the spring collection itself. Twenty or so cotton and merino-knit pieces featuring large, geometric shapes and undulating lines in an array of vibrant hues — a nod to the ’70s-era designer Stephen Burrows — hang on two racks at opposite ends of the room. “I like working with my friends — people I trust,” Glemaud says of Nouveau, who also D.J.ed the designer’s recent wedding in Luxembourg. “I think that’s how you get the most genuine and best results,” he adds.
And indeed, after more than two decades occupying different roles throughout the fashion industry, Glemaud has garnered countless friends and close colleagues to call on when needs arise. He studied fashion design at FIT, but went on to work in PR for several years (clients included Versace and Marc Jacobs), before shifting back to design for various brands like Paco Rabanne, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Sport and eventually his own label. “I met so many people throughout all different facets of this industry, I learned to understand different aspects of the job,” he says. It’s this fluency and network of willing collaborators that has enabled Glemaud to keep his business relatively contained, and his costs low; at the moment, he has no other full-time employees.
On the afternoon of his presentation at TriBeCa’s Spring Studios, Glemaud arrives early to situate himself. “I’m a little more nervous than I usually am,” he says, scanning the perimeter of the room. But this feeling is short-lived — by the time the doors officially open, the space is already dense with early attendees. Glemaud, wearing a striped sweater and aqua green jeans, is laughing and surrounded by a constant swarm of guests.
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