Cruising with Willy Chavarria at New York Fashion Week: Men’s
Willy Chavarria went the Raf Simons route at NYFW:M, deciding to show his spring/summer 2018 collection not in the standard exhibition space, but off-site, out in the city. Chavarria is an exciting designer to watch, and placing his collection, titled “Cruising,” in a leather bar was an inspired choice.
He showed wide-leg pants and voluminous shirts that brought a California sensibility (where he’s from) to New York (where he lives). The careful styling of the environment worked with the clothes, from the lowriders parked out front, to the fragrant flower crosses inside. Relaxing oldies playing on the speakers—music to cruise to, in a place for cruising.
Fashion Week provides an opportuity to get to know different designers and their points of view, and we’re glad we made it out to the Eagle to see what Chavarria had to offer.
SHOP: men’s designer
Slideshow images by @firstviewphoto
Why was it so important for you to do your show at this bar, the Eagle?
Because I’m a New York designer, I wanted to show at an iconic New York place. A place that’s disintegrating in New York, vanishing. The Eagle represents this whole leather scene that’s almost nonexistent now, almost evaporating. The theme of the collection is unity between subcultures that don’t normally coexist. My last collection had a feeling of resistance, with elements of the Black Power and Brown Power movements. There’s a movie that we’re going to release that features that collection, actually. But now with the political climate, we’re feeling sadness. In general we don’t feel so great. So I wanted to do something positive, with this beautiful, romantic music for example….
Lowrider jams. Cruising in a different sense.
I was like, dude, cruising! It has to be that. I wanted to show these two things that are almost opposing at times. Like lowriders, that’s not a gay thing necessarily. I wanted to put these things in the same space and create a beautiful, romantic feeling. The clothes have a lot of color. I wanted to show the softer side of masculinity.
What’s your experience with Black Panthers or Brown Berets?
No personal history because I’m a little young for that.
No, I thought maybe your family or people you grew up around.
Not really. My family is mostly migrant farm workers, so they were closer to Cesar Chavez. Our political opinion was about our ability to make money, so it wasn’t as militant. But also, I’m half white and half Mexican—white mom, Mexican dad. So even in that, there’s a convergence. I grew up in a small hick town, very segregated. Huron, California. Integration eventually happened there, and that’s where my parents met, at the first integrated high school. They had to keep it a secret. After I was born, my Mexican family took her in. I was raised very Mexican. My white mom lived with my Mexican family.
What’s behind your references to beer and cigarettes with the Cares and American Mayhem logos?
As I got older, I went to high school in this other small town called Visalia, near Fresno, with a good friend, Brian Calvin. He’s a wonderful painter. He was working on his next collection to show in Europe, and I was working on designing my collection. We decided to collaborate on something that was reflective of the town we grew up in, this mundane place of nothing, and to interpret some of the aspects that are common to lowrider and leather culture. Those pieces you see are actually original paintings, and we’re going to sell those in galleries. I’m going to do a printed version of them too.
What’s one thing you wish more guys would wear, but maybe they think it’s risky or weird?
Wide-leg pants. Definitely wide-leg pants. Too many people are trying to force themselves into skinny legs, and wide-leg is so beautiful, so elegant, so flattering to so many men. I’d love to see more guys do that.