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48 Hours with Victor Glemaud and His Riotous, Colourful Fashion Week

By Laura Neilson

Paul Quitoriano
 
A Trip to the Dive Bar | Friday, 1:20 p.m.

The designer Victor Glemaud meets with a manager at Ray’s, a bar on New York’s Lower East Side where he’ll co-host a fund-raising event for the national grass-roots organisation Swing Left later this month. It’s two days before the presentation for his spring collection, but with the 2020 elections fast approaching, Glemaud treats both events with equal focus. “I just think that right now, and the year that we’re about to go into, we all have to contribute in some way,” he says.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Making a Playlist | Friday, 4:25 p.m.

Back uptown, at Glemaud’s live-work studio, the D.J. Mike Nouveau presents music options for Sunday’s two-hour presentation. It’s mostly a collection of ’70s-era soul and disco to match the collection’s Stephen Burrows-inspired lineup of colourful graphic knits. “Ooh, the kids — they’ll love this,” Glemaud says when Nouveau plays Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street.”

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Paul Quitoriano
 
From the Ground Up | Friday, 6:15 p.m.

Glemaud, who remains the sole full-time employee at his eponymous label, makes last-minute adjustments to a dress from the spring 2020 collection. Though the brand itself has existed since 2006, it’s taken several iterations for Glemaud to find the design concept and business model that worked best for him. “I’m not trying to pretend this brand is as big as whatever else is out there,” he says. “This is self-funded. I own it. I’m in this for the long haul, and I’m taking it one step at a time.”

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Walk-Through | Friday, 6:22 p.m.

Glemaud is a self-professed colour fanatic. “When you’re from the Caribbean, you see things differently,” says the Haitian-born designer.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Jack of All Trades | Friday, 6:35 p.m.

Before launching his fashion line in 2006, the 41-year-old designer had myriad jobs within the fashion industry, including working in publicity for brands such as Versace and Marc Jacobs, and design stints at Paco Rabanne and Tommy Hilfiger. “It gave me a network of people who have supported me in terms of building this,” he says.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Feeling Groovy | Friday, 6:30 p.m.

The 20-style collection takes inspiration from graphic shapes and bright colour-blocking from the ’70s-era fashion designer Stephen Burrows. “I wanted to make it geometric, a little more linear,” Glemaud says. His pieces are known for their body-hugging shapes and easy wearability.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Refraining From the Runway | Saturday, 10:15 a.m.

The morning before the presentation, Glemaud pays a visit to Spring Studios to approve imagery and production details. The past few seasons, his presentation has comprised a gallery of enlarged images from the season’s look book in a relaxed, party-like setting.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Setting the Scene | Saturday, 10:25 a.m.

Glemaud discusses final details with a coordinator; this will be his third time presenting his collection at Spring Studios, inside a tucked-away space known as the Sunken Living Room. He likes the venue especially for its proximity to other Spring Studio shows on that day’s calendar. “Because my friends are in fashion, I didn’t want something that would be a chore for them,” he explains.

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Victor Glemaud
 
Sweater Weather | Saturday, 10:40 a.m.

“I love sweaters, I wear them all the time,” says Glemaud. It was his own predilection for colours and knitwear that informed the defining characteristics of his brand.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Stroll to Soho | Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

Glemaud largely credits technology and the rising freelance economy for enabling him to keep his business expenses down; throughout the season, he works remotely with employees on a mostly part-time basis.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Happy Hour | Saturday, 6:25 p.m.

Glemaud meets the stylist Kate Young, a close friend with whom he’s co-hosting the Swing Left fund-raiser, for drinks at the restaurant King in SoHo. “We’ve known each other for 20 years. He was the maid of honour at my wedding in 2005,” says Young.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Finishing Touches | Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

The day of the presentation, Glemaud arrives early to oversee the placement of the collection and its look-book images.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Run of Show | Sunday, 2:35 p.m.

Glemaud (with his brother Chris, standing) scans the living-room-like space, considering the potential flow of movement and how it relates to the placement of several six-foot-tall panels featuring images of the model Maria Borges in looks from the collection.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Very Colourful Lineup | Sunday, 2:20 p.m.

Glemaud’s spring collection, a streamlined series of graphic knits, hangs on racks for guests to see — and touch — in person. A universal dictate coursing through all his collections is ease of wear: “I don’t want people to think too hard about how to wear one of my pieces,” he says. “I always say, ‘You can buy it, bring it home, and put it on right then and there.’ It shouldn’t be so complicated.”

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Paul Quitoriano
 
It’s Showtime | Sunday 4:15 p.m.

Fifteen minutes into the presentation, the room is humming with guests.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Family Affair | Sunday 4:50 p.m.

Glemaud is joined by his mother, Julie (right), who wears one of the knit dresses from the collection.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Full House | Sunday, 5:25 p.m.

In the past few seasons, Glemaud has honed in on a presentation format that fits his personality and natural love of hosting. “Before I got married, I used to have all my friends over, and I would do like a big chicken dinner. We’d roast a chicken, some vegetables, there’d be wine, and we’d chat and dance into the wee hours. And that was sort of the idea — how do I recreate that?,” he says.

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Paul Quitoriano
 
Friendly Faces | Sunday, 5:15 p.m.

Glemaud (posting with the Vogue editor Chioma Nnadi) credits his various occupations within the fashion industry for his network of close friends and colleagues. It’s been a critical factor in the success of his company, he believes: “I can rely on them, and ask for their help and advice. And so far, I think it’s working.”

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Paul Quitoriano
 
A Steady Crowd | Sunday, 5:40 p.m.

As disco music pulses in the background, guests sip champagne and sparkling water, socialise and settle into the plush couches. For many, Glemaud’s presentations have become a rare respite from the usual Fashion Week grind.

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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.