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FEATURE

February 20, 2019

By Noelani Piters

Q&A: HOW FASHION DESIGNER VICTOR GLEMAUD ENVISIONS A MORE INCLUSIVE INDUSTRY

RealStyle | Victor Glemaud
If there’s a visionary designer you need to know now, it’s Victor Glemaud. His oeuvre of signature slashed sweaters and form-flattering knitwear speaks to a universal style lexicon where everyone is represented. His pieces have been worn by the likes of Ashley Graham, Issa Rae, Amber Valletta and Christian Combs. Glemaud was also a 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist and collaborates with size-inclusive retailer 11 Honoré, cementing his place as a staunch instigator of progress.
Born in Haiti, Glemaud moved to the U.S. when he was three years old and has been a New Yorker ever since. While attending FIT, Glemaud kick-started his career as a design assistant for Patrick Robinson before eventually spending five years as a publicist for brands such as Versace, Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang. Glemaud returned to design in 2005 as Paco Rabanne’s Artistic Director and then later as Tommy Hilfiger’s Style Director before launching his own label in 2015. But it hasn’t always been an easy road.

RealStyle | Victor GlemaudIndya Moore in Victor Glemaud’s Fall 2019 campaign.

As Glemaud and others of myriad colors, ethnicities, gender identities and backgrounds unfortunately know, the fashion industry effects change at a snail’s pace. Earlier this month, Glemaud and Bethann Hardison, former model and agent-cum-fashion advocate, helped shed light on this at the “Embracing Racial Diversity in the Industry” installment of our monthly Real Fashion with Julie Gilhart series. We caught up with Glemaud after the talk to discuss his career path, experiences with prejudice and Fall 2019 collection, which was just presented at New York Fashion Week.
How would you describe your design ethos?
It’s all about statement knitwear, designed for all people, genders, races, sizes and personalities.
What was the initial inspiration of your namesake collection, and how has designing for your own label differed from working for brands like Paco Rabanne and Tommy Hilfiger?
My debut collection was based on the idea of a “slash” sweater inspired by artist Lucio Fontana. Color and art provide the building blocks for the collection. And my previous design experiences will always contribute to the designer I am becoming.

RealStyle | Victor GlemaudIndya Moore in Victor Glemaud’s Fall 2019 campaign.

From PR to design, you’ve been working in the industry for awhile now. Since the beginning of your career in fashion, how have you seen the industry change in terms of inclusivity and opportunity?
When I started working in fashion in the late ‘90s, we still used faxes. This was way before social media. Fashion was insular, controlled and myopic. If you didn’t know someone, it was nearly impossible to break in. All these years later, internal change is coming, such as Bethann Hardison and Iman working to get more diverse models hired, while creatives build brands via social media or going direct to consumers. These concurrent movements continue to change the industry.
Could you describe the types of prejudices and obstacles you’ve faced, and how they’ve impacted your career?
I can say I felt more prejudices due to sex than to race. “We really want to hire a girl” or “I have one boy working here already” were the types of statements that I heard a lot. In the early 2000s that was more acceptable.

RealStyle | Victor GlemaudIndya Moore in Victor Glemaud’s Fall 2019 campaign.

In an interview with stylist Memsor Kamarake, you said that “the biggest issue that the industry needs to address is inclusivity behind the scenes.” What specific changes would you like to see?
Honestly this requires deeper exploration as behind-the-scenes talent: merchandising, production, accounting, marketing, legal and C-suite executives remain less inclusive. The industry needs to hire people of diverse backgrounds and/or with non-traditional resumés who have a love for fashion, clothes and imagery. Untapped talent will introduce fresh perspectives, ideas and energy. Also, fashion is a business and creatives need to find dedicated business minds. We need individuals who can help to plan ahead and execute financially sound decisions efficiently, with an eye focused on profitability and the long-term sustainability of the business.
Were there certain designers or fashion industry leaders that inspired or guided you along your journey? Who inspires you right now?
Patrick Robinson — my first boss, mentor and best friend.
What places within the industry do you feel are the most in need of a push forward in terms of diversity?
All areas of the industry need to continue to hire talented, driven and diverse folks.
Do you think fashion, as an art and a business, can enact change?
Absolutely. It is happening right now.

RealStyle | Victor GlemaudIndya Moore in Victor Glemaud’s Fall 2019 campaign.

What do you hope to convey through your work?
Joy.
Could you tell us a little about your latest collection?
My fall 2019 collection is all about the feeling of autumnal bliss. Summer has ended but it’s still warm, the light is bright and you feel relaxed, healthy and refreshed after the summer holiday. It’s also a nod to the neo-preppy collegiate school spirit found in historically black colleges and universities such as Hampton, Howard, Morehouse, Spelman and Xavier.
The concept for the campaign was centered around old New York glamour and shot on location at The Lowell Hotel and Central Park. It features the incomparable Indya Moore, a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ+ and POC communities, who uses her ever-growing platform to broaden perception of our shared passions, community and history. It was pure joy to see her raw, sensual self-expression transform the collection.
What’s next for Victor Glemaud? Anything coming up in the future that you are looking forward to?
A lot more sweaters, of course.
Shop your new favorite designer with our selection of Victor Glemaud pieces now.

Images courtesy of Victor Glemaud.

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