Vogue CS in English
Victor Glemaud: I love to work with Selena Gomez
Denisa Palsha30. 3. 2020
Seasoned fashion industry professional, Victor Glemaud, has an impressive resume that ranges from creative work with top brands, PR collaborations with luxury fashion houses, and the post of the finalist in the VOGUE/CFDA Fashion Fund, to openly speaking on fashion diversity and the creative direction of his own label. No one would be surprised by Victor’s know-how in running his label of luxury knits, known for its vibrant colors and loved by celebrities. On the catwalk of the stylish SOHO Grand hotel, Victor Glemaud presented his latest collection during NYFW to guests and VIPs from the industry, who are in his close circle, thanks to a long history in fashion. I couldn’t help sitting down with him and talking about it all in an exclusive interview for Vogue CS.
Over the last 20 years, you worked in a number of different roles in the fashion industry. What was your path to fashion, and how did various experiences influence you as a designer?
My journey in fashion is not a straight shot. I went to FIT after college and worked as an intern for a designer, Patrick Robinson, while still in school. That led me to the design assistant role with Patrick when he took over Paco Rabanne. I also started to work with his wife, Virginia Smith (who is the fashion editor of Vogue), when she was the head of PR for Calvin Klein, and she inspired me to transition to the field of public relations. I took the role of a publicist in KCD Worldwide. I call that experience my ‘finishing school’ because I was introduced to so many key people in fashion and worked on amazing projects and shows with Versace, Gucci, Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen, etc. all over the world. While it was the best experience, I felt at some point that I wanted to return to my first love, which was actively making clothes. I started my first collection and built my brand from there. Now my entire journey in fashion is encapsulated in my collection. It respects where I have been, what I learnt, but I speak for myself as a designer for a new generation of people that are excited about active dressing.
Foto: Getty Images
Victor Glemaud a Devon Windsor
Foto: Getty Images
Victor Glemaud a Kelly Osbourne
Foto: Getty Images
Victor Glemaud a Amber Valletta
Your statement pieces sell in key shopping sites, department stores, and they sell fast! What do you want people to feel when they wear your clothing?
I want people to feel great! Unique, as well as comfortable. Because it is a knit, it is something that a lot of people wear with nothing else underneath it. And to me, it also needs to feel new. Whether color, silhouette, shape, or pattern, any sort of design detail that I put into it. I always ask myself, ‘Is this something she already has in the closet or might have seen?’ A lot of people think ‘new’ needs to be avant-guard. No! New does not even have to be something you don’t own, but something you wear in a different way. It needs to feel like when you walk into the room, people ask, ‘Who is that and what is she wearing?’ Most importantly, I want people to be able to wear my pieces with whatever they wear that day.
The Victor Glemaud label is for men and women, unisex. How would you describe your brand’s DNA?
I don’t call it unisex - it’s inclusive, men, women, all body types... If a guy wants to wear it, great! Get a bigger size and go for it! My collections are always joyful and optimistic. They are a celebration of beauty. I am a fashion person! I love fashion and this industry, and this is what I celebrate - making people look beautiful. That is in the deep roots of my brand.
Tell me about your Spring Summer 2020 collection (in stores now).
My Spring collection is fun! It is about optimism and happiness. People are taking off their coats. They are tired of seeing gray and wearing dark, they are ready for sunshine, blue skies and colors. Therefore, I chose juicy, bold colors! Since at times I am compared to Stephen Burrows, and I was fortunate to get introduced to him, I decided to do a collection with his inspiration. I love how he celebrates a woman’s body. Stephen represents the past and a bit of nostalgia. Curves he uses are strong, and his clothes beautifully hug the figure. I added my architectural elements, to make our pieces look contemporary and to express my thinking.
Some people don’t like to be compared to others. You, on the other hand, view it positively. That’s powerful.
Most definitely. In creative fields, whether film, art, fashion, photography, we all have a reference of something that we love. I believe that it is very important to acknowledge what inspires us, what matters to our visual identity, visual language, and for our creative expression. We all build on what preceded us. So it is quite important to look at the work of those ahead of us and get inspired, but then it is essential to work with the inspiration in a way that it is novel. And this is exactly what we have done in this collection.
What inspires you?
I look at Instagram, photos, sculptures, paintings, film, I go to galleries, museums - these are my important references for color choices and ideas. But my biggest inspiration has always been my father. Since childhood I remember him very well put together and impeccably dressed, everything always fitted and had the right proportions. He had a passion for style. I also think of style icons as George Corina, Iman, etc, people that have an incredible repertoire of personal style. But how I view style and active dressing, this all comes from my dad.
Iman, Selena Gomez, Amber Valletta, Dakota Johnson, Ashley Graham, and a number of other celebrities have been spotted in your clothing. Who is your favorite celebrity to work with and who do you still hope to dress?
I love to work with Selena Gomez. Her stylist is a good friend of mine, and we have a very similar esthetic expression. Selena looks terrific in my clothing. She’s already been wearing my label for a few years. I like to watch how she wears our pieces and how her fans or followers respond. Generally, I love seeing how people interpret my clothing. I would love to dress Meghan Markle one day. She is beautiful, strong, makes bold statements and she is fearless. I hope we will collaborate in the future.
You are known as an avid advocate of diversity and inclusivity in fashion. Coming from Haiti, what was your personal experience?
My family moved from Haiti to Queens, New York when I was 3 years old. To go into the fashion field for a black boy was not easy. My family did not see fashion as a career. Although they supported me, it was really challenging. I could not imagine that I would make it. At the time in fashion, there were barely any black designers. I was fortunate that my first job in design was for a black designer, who catapulted me into a world of fashion. He is my mentor till this day, a close friend, and his motivation gave me strength to fight against barriers. The evolution since then is remarkable. When I was in Fashion Fund, four black designers participated. This never happened before. So today, whether you are from Asia, India, etc. you can creatively express yourself and build your social media audience that will support you. Fashion today is opened to creative ideas that are ‘different’ - this is the beauty of today’s era.
So, is the job done or do you still see a gap to further improve in diversity topic in fashion?
Of course, there still are challenges. In fashion nothing is easy, this is a field not easy to navigate in. Diversity got attention thanks to supermodels Iman, Naomi, etc. These incredible women were the reason why our field acknowledged that something is not working in how we deal with diversity. Then it broadened to other fields of fashion - photographers, stylists, designers. Today attention moved further to business people in fashion, as CEO, CFOs, etc. And this is forcing the global fashion world to openly speak about something we should have paid attention to a long time ago. But at least the dialog is on! Our generation is empowered to change things and do things differently than in the past. What is positive is that in 2020 we are doing significantly better than in 2000. Everyone has the opportunity to try. And this is so critical for me: to show current aspiring designers trying to succeed in fashion, that it is possible. The door is opened for all talented people. But this global dialog must continue.
Sustaining business long term, particularly in fashion, takes a lot of work. What is important for you, day to day, to keep going and make it work, all these years?
I am very fortunate to have a strong support system – my family and friends. Because at times you may find yourself in a situation that even when you love the collection, perhaps a critic’s review is not as you expected, or a collection may not be selling as you hoped for. And then you end up questioning yourself – what did I do wrong? It affects how you feel. But with strong support of people that have been with you on your journey the entire time, that continue with you and navigate your steps, or even mentor you, you will always have fuel to keep going forward. And that is extremely important.
You were a finalist in the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and you worked in several very different roles. What does being a ‘designer of today’ mean to you?
A designer of today needs to have significantly more knowledge and experience in various areas of fashion…. You have to be well versed in marketing, distribution, you need strong communication skills, you should have good (social) media, you need to understand how to sell your collection. It is not comparable with the time when I started 20 years ago. I am noticing in my interns or people that I give professional advice to that they may have great technical skills of making clothes but can’t effectively communicate, or they understand the business but don’t know how to create. I understand this business thanks to variety of my experiences, and when I started the brand, I already had a very specific, well thought-through strategy around marketing, pricing, distribution, etc. I too need to go to meetings with buyers, I need to know how to communicate with them and make them an attractive offering. Creative directors today need to understand what it takes, otherwise, the brand won’t last, because you simply need to get involved in all these disciplines.
What do you like to do ‘off duty’?
I love hanging out with my friends and family. I cherish very simple moments of life, such as cooking dinner with my husband or having lunch out with my mom. They give me so much joy. Little things in life that really matter are invaluable for my balance!
We just closed the decade that for your label was very successful. What are you plans for the next one?
I am constantly thinking about the future and I plan a lot. I want to see growth and I want to expand my label. It requires a lot of patience, as well as stopping to celebrate and to reflect about extraordinary moments with people that matter to you on this journey. But I definitely plan to be here in 2030, so you have a lot to look forward to (laugh).