2023 Designer of the Year

A discussion with Willy Chavarria - Creative Director & Designer, Willy Chavarria

After starting out in California — working with Joe Boxer and Ralph Lauren, then retailers such as Palmer Trading Company, Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Browns — Willy Chavarria launched his own eponymous label in NYC in 2015. His concept blends the emotion of art and modern politics into a reactionary story of the human will. The brand began to receive attention after creating controversial and poignant runway presentations. It also led to opportunities to work on other brands such as Calvin Klein, where Willy is now Senior Vice President of Design.

In his own words...

What favorite moment comes to mind when you reflect on this past NY Fashion Week?

My favorite moment is when the cast of the show is fully dressed and preparing for the walk. It is the moment when I first see the collection come to life all at once. It is emotional and dramatic for me and I can feel the personalization of each garment as it is interpreted by the wearer.

My last show was in a beautiful church. Near the dressing area was a small prayer chapel. The models would go and sit in silence in the prayer room fully dressed. What a moment.

You have an “unapologetic stand on human rights.” What’s one human right’s issue that you wish more attention was being invested towards?

There are so many human rights that are equally important.

I like to focus from time to time on specific issues like anti-hate initiatives, decency for imprisoned people, immigration issues, etc.

But at the core it always human rights, equal rights, and a right to dignity.

I think ultimately it is about these three rights are what we need to course correct our presence on earth.

What changes across the industry would you like to see over the next five years?

I would love to see us redefine why we wear what we do. I would love to see the economy balance across the population so that more people can afford quality. I would like to see the industry change its way of selling consumption as a way for people to feel validated and rather sell the idea of quality a smaller wardrobe.

In 2021, you were one of 10 winners of the CFDA Vogue Fashion fund. How has this helped to advance your vision?

The CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund award helped to invest in a higher tier level of dressing with made to order couture pieces as well as more celebrity dressing and more tailoring with great pattern makers and atelier. This has been a terrific addition to the brand vision. It has added a dimension that is very personal.

What musical lyric or quote inspires you on a tough day?

“Sky is the limit and you know that you can be what you want, have what you want, be what you want” - The Notorious B.I.G. and 112

Join us as Willy accepts his award April 25!

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