Nicki Minaj is playing in the background when Becca McCharen-Tran picks up the phone in her Brooklyn studio. “Can you hear me OK?” she asks. Like the rap queen she’s blasting, the Chromat designer doesn’t usually struggle to get her message across. Both women share outspoken positions on female empowerment as well as a fascination with colorful, form-fitting fashions. For McCharen-Tran, the two combine in her feisty fashion shows, where models storm the runway wearing her body-baring swimwear while showcasing their personalities. Chromat breaks with the usual runway displays, where a homogenous group of models walks carefully comported so as not to distract from the fashion. Instead, McCharen-Tran encourages her diverse group to cavort on the runway, smiling and winking at the audience at will. Her casting reflects this ethos. The calls are open to anyone, really. Any gender, any size, any ethnicity.
“It’s really about what kind of energy you’re bringing to the runway,” McCharen-Tran said. “We’re never filling certain size quotas or anything. It’s really about who shows up to the casting in full power mode and slays the runway.”