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For a person who's spent nearly a decade designing, sewing, shilling, and promoting other labels, it's no wonder that Chris Gelinas knows exactly what he wants for himself. After spending time at brands as diverse as Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Balenciaga, and Theory, Gelinas left to pursue his own line, CG, which has already garnered him a Peroni 2013 Young Designer Award and a spot as an LVMH award finalist. He's a designer whose star is rising as rapidly as they come, but Gelinas himself is taking it slow.
Gelinas does "luxury" in the kind of way described in storybooks. He's involved in each step of the process (including creating the otherworldly textiles he's become known for), manufactures domestically, produces small collections, and, up until recently, sells directly to consumers by inviting them to visit his "atelier" — a small studio in the Garment District that sits right next to a factory sewing room. Though he's missing a leather smock and dormice to help him hem skirts at night, Gelinas is making it work, and has developed a small but loyal following of women who'd rather spend a lot of money on one skirt that'll last forever than many skirts that'll last for just a season. It's a model that's been wholly embraced by the food and service industry, but "slow fashion" is still a concept that feels at odds with the need-it-now, 10-trends-a-second culture that currently exists within fashion.
For Gelinas, that's not a problem. He's showing his third collection at NYFW this week, and it's a continuation of his approach to a more responsible, more conscientious way to celebrate clothing. We sat down with the young designer to talk about his most recent collection, the (surprisingly) boring ways that designers actually seek out inspiration, and the existential crises that keep him up at night.
Photographed by by Kat Irlin.