Culture Trip: Let’s start from the beginning! When did you decide you wanted to be in fashion?
Colin LoCascio: I was a late bloomer! I really thought I wanted a be a toy designer specializing in cloth toys (plush/stuffed animals), however during my foundation year, the first assignment for my spatial dynamics course was to make a wearable piece/garment out of brown paper. I think that helped me realize how important fashion is as a representation of oneself. I wore a uniform my whole life during school before college, so the whole dynamic of dressing cool to make friends never entered my mind. But I think all of these experiences that were happening at once perked my interest.
CT: How have you found the process of launching your own brand?
CL: My focus was been primarily taking commissions and just building my voice as a designer, and also just as a human being. I’ve been really fortunate to have been able to meet so many incredible stylists, photographers etc. that have really embraced my work and have been extremely supportive. I think that individuals are really invested in ushering in new talent with new ideas, especially in NYC where there aren’t institutions set in place to help launch talent like there are in Europe.
CT: Texture is at the heart of your designs, how did you develop your aesthetic?
CL: I personally love the challenge of a weird material or fabric. I like textures and fabrics where I’m not sure how I feel about it at first. I’m a firm believer that anything can be spectacular in the right context, especially when it comes to material. When I’m getting weird looks at the fabric store because I’m choosing such strange materials, I know I’m in a good place! My aesthetic very much developed through my upbringing in Queens, NY. My mom had, and still has, great style and I remember her wearing these crazy blazer dresses to work, very much like Fran Drescher in The Nanny. I’m inspired by these hilarious, and at times a bit of absurd characters, but at all times fabulous people in my family that make up majority of my friends. I’m invested in material, color, and texture and that ulitmately has developed into a huge part of my taste level.
CT: When you are embellishing work, how much is too much?
CL: That’s a hard question and I think it’s a lot of stepping back and looking at it, and keeping in mind what that individual piece serves. In my opinion, if it is a sequin covered bralette that is going to be worn on stage – take it there/let the people in the last row see the sparkle. But I’ve been working on some red carpet pieces and I apply a different rhetoric to those pieces. I think that people respond better to embellishment that is in a motif/design layout. I think my way around that has been loading those “motifs” with everything under the sun and then leaving a little bit of space and doing it again.
CT: What are your main influences?
CL: We have certainly established a muse/direct customer so it’s very much diving into these hypothetical questions of “okay, so what would they see in their grandma’s closet and want, and how can we make that piece, but cooler, younger and more relevant to them?” I love to look at a lot of vintage pieces – and trying to imagine the life of the woman or man who wore the pieces. Much of the identity of the clothing/brand is rooted in growing up in Queens, and all of the absurd women who live here. I have particularly been inspired by ladies in their early 80’s who go to all of the local diners in sunglasses during the meal. It’s actually incredible! It’s like “ladies who brunch”: but it’s “ladies who dine”. I’ve been trying to get some of them to model my pieces but it hasn’t worked out yet. But I think overall it’s this energy that is the biggest influence. The energy doesn’t always embody people that are similar or even dress similar to my aesthetic but its this particular energy that really drives me to create.
CT: What’s in store for 2017?
CL: We are developing new styles and a further understanding of Colin LoCascio as a brand. I’ve been doing a lot of research over the past year about what celebrities are pulling my pieces, which samples can’t seem to stay in the studio, etc., all of which has been invaluable when thinking about my voice and how to cultivate my identity. You never really know what’s in store and that is what’s exciting!