I probably started to get involved in fashion in my teens. As far as design, I didn’t immediately go to school; it's something that happened somewhat backwards. I wanted too, but I just didn’t really have the outlet or anything like that. After I was already working, me and a couple of friends started a brand and I came on and did the design. I had the desire and the passion to design but didn’t really have the background, the experience or the schooling. I was pretty much self-taught, I learned from experience by working with the factories, after which I took classes at Parsons. Since I already had a brand and was working for a job, I took classes course by course. I was bringing all of this learning together myself. I started off at BlackScale, which is an amazing streetwear brand. It definitely pushed the envelope by illuminating the tailored cuts and silhouettes of streetwear's design, which was then only really known for its screen printed tees, hats and hoodies. From there on it was a natural progression until I decided I wanted to focus on high-end, I just wasn’t sure how to do it.... it's all about opportunity and execution. That was a year ago; I haven’t looked back since.
The desire for creating and producing is somewhat like seeing a void, whether big or small. The void I was seeing was that I was a huge fan of some fashion houses, brands and designers but still, it's very rare to find a designer or brand that you would wear 100% of the time and love the whole collection. I was really just designing what I would like to see in my closet; picking bits and pieces of inspiration from things I had seen and liked and kind of helped me put it all together; keeping it essential and true to the basic silhouettes. I wanted to set the foundations of the simple silhouettes, trying to find the most amazing fabrics and leathers; instead of trying to find and create new silhouettes. The important thing for us is to set the foundations and have the garments shine through.
At first, it was for the personality. I think that happens because when you first start out, you are overflowing with so much passion to create and you’re anxious to get those ideas out, its almost like a race, a purging of ideas, so you are basically creating for an specific personality, an aesthetic and a culture. Gradually, as the brand progresses, it is very important to focus on the fit and the silhouette, think about how people with a certain personality and aesthetic are wearing the piece, and make sure that they are comfortable in it. So, as I said, one usually starts out designing for the personality and then it becomes essential to add a fit to the personality.
In a matter of a year, we have shown here at New York Fashion week three times and have shown at Paris Fashion week too. We have been very fortunate to have the chance to show, it's been amazing. We always make sure we reflect our progression with the brand; proving that we are learning as much as we can and that we are also creating something striking and executing on a high level, because that's where we belong to. The fashion scene is dominated by big fashion houses; we are a young American brand and we definitely want to show that we deserve to be here.
This Fall/Winter 14 collection theme was definitely monochromatic grand minimalism. Monochromatic minimalism was the main inspiration for the whole line. I design first in black. I see things in black, always trying to keep it simple and clean. The 'grand' bit came in because people think keeping things minimal means basic and small but it doesn't. This collection has an industrial feel, kind off stark and dark; not only for the color but for the feel of the fabric too. We have been distressing and destroying these fabrics and then coating them. The silhouettes are very military inspired and sensual. We took the time to travel in order to find the best fabrics and leathers, and implemented those into the line. It is really cool to see how the garment is worn, it's like a beautiful scar on a beautiful garment, a sort of timeline. That was our focus, always trying to keep it simple.
When En Noir first came out, it was not for the faint of heart. There were quite a few consumers who liked what they saw but weren’t sure whether to take the step. I think it is good to put consumers in the situation of having to decide, and it helps you see the kind of costumer you have. After that, a whole culture is built on that foundation. As the line grows, there is a little bit of everything for everyone: there are the show pieces, then those you can bring out all year long, and lastly, the basics, which you can combine with everything else, always keeping that common aesthetics throughout.
In my case, I didn’t start out knowing I wanted to get into fashion college. I did it backwards. It is important for people to know that the opportunity is always there. There is no right way anymore, it's all possible. It is important to get one's ideas out. We are all talented! It is just a matter of getting those ideas out because you don’t know how special those ideas might be and you never know who is watching. We have risen so fast with En Noir, I could never have forecasted that. I strongly believe there is a stroke of genius in everyone.
The plans for the future are endless right now. We are so young and learning so much, we have a lot of great things on the horizon. We are excited about making the brand grow the right way. We want to keep on showing progression, whether it’s with the line, the shows, or even with the smallest details. We want the consumer to believe in the brand and believe in its culture.