Home is where the heart is for Willy Chavarria. The CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award winner showed in a primo time slot on the first night of New York Fashion Week in the same building where his design studio is housed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
His packed front row included Julia Fox, Becky G, Sam Smith, Susanne Bartsch and former club kid Amanda Lepore. The room was flooded with sexy red lighting, and the wooden chairs were stamped with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, underscoring the influence of the Catholic church and religious life on the Mexican American designer.
The show opened with a film projected above a table set like the Last Supper. Laying the groundwork for expanding the tent, so to speak, Chavarria directed the piece with a cast of characters from his inclusive and protected free world, including models Paloma Elsesser and Dilone.
“I didn’t want it to be a film all about the clothes. I wanted to see how the clothes move with us through our lives. And I also didn’t want to make something that was a distraction from reality, from the wars that we’re seeing and all of the [stuff] in the world. Rather, I wanted it to be a consciousness of how we feel, an understanding of how we feel, and at the same time point out the importance of loving one another and raising each other up and keeping each other safe from harm,” he said backstage post-show.
Titled “Safe From Harm,” the film was a statement of Chavarria’s brand values–a celebration of sexual freedom, queer self-expression and harmony as a big happy and safe family.
On the runway, the designer focused on inviting more people into his brand through commercial appeal, refining his signature silhouettes and greatest hits. Oversized blazers with exaggerated shoulders and peak lapels were more tailored to the body, paired with elegant plaid shirts with scarf ties. Floor length double-breasted topcoats and pleated, slightly high-waisted trousers came in houndstooth checks alongside heritage plaid oversized blazers, his signature track suit in a heavy wool, and cheekier items like veiled baseball hats.
“I wanted to make sure that I have silhouettes that can be more democratic,” said Chavarria, who just started wholesaling this season, of narrowing trousers and refining leather jackets, from his core bombers with just the right slouch to an elegant tailored coat dress with slightly puffed sleeves.
The lineup also marked the introduction of leather accessories, including an oversized briefcase, an elegant crossbody and a clutch, in classic brown and black, and an expansion of his jewelry assortment that included baroque-looking pearl and stone cross necklaces and earrings, and leather chains with oversized pendants with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in keeping with the brand’s spirit of Latinidad.
Chavarria has entered a new realm with his industry recognition, wholesale business, and increased celebrity exposure from Billie Eilish at the Golden Globes, to name just one. He proved he’s ready to take on all that comes with that, executing a lineup that celebrated his long time fans while offering the possibility of cultivating a new ones, including more women.