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The Founding Father of a New American Style

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Willy Chavarria makes the case for a new (multi)national style.

The sun had gone down on the first day of New York Fashion Week — which also happened to be the first day of the whole fashion season — when Willy Chavarria invited everyone to a drive-in on the far reaches of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

OK, not exactly a drive-in; more like a walk-in, but you get the idea. An old warehouse was bathed in a red light, and there were roses on every chair. Julia Fox, wearing a lavish white robe, Vermeer hat and not much else, chatted to Amanda Lepore and Sam Smith. Then a screen came down on a black velvet curtain and a short film started to play. It starred a host of characters diverse in race, size and sexual orientation, living in one old house, sharing angst and joy, tears and dumbbells and clothes. At the end, they had a dance party.

It was less a movie than a mood. One that hasn’t been seen in fashion in quite a long time. One that set the scene for the show that came next. One that said sitting on the sidelines wasn’t going to be enough any more; get up and do something. Even if it’s just making clothes — as long as they aren’t just clothes. That has been the mantra for long enough, set to the tune of whispering cashmere.

Enough with discretion and keeping to oneself. Politics is back in fashion. Not as a polemic or a slogan, but as a look. Sometimes you have to design the world you want to see.

Mr. Chavarria did, with a collection that crossed genres and genders: black tie tuxedos, Havana prairie power suits, Victorian biker jackets.

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  1. Selwyn Tungol

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