A couple of weeks ago, during New York Fashion week, I had the rockin’ fortune to attend Marimacho’s Spring/Summer 2014 Runway show and after party! Marimacho is an amazing clothing line for masculine of center folks underserved by most mainstream menswear. Or as they put it, “classic fashion for the unconventionally masculine.” It’s pretty freaking dope.
Set beneath the pool colored artwork of queer installation artist Diego Montoya, the theme of the evening was Atlantis 2050, which was basically a fancy futuristic underwater queer utopialand. Under the vision of Marimacho founders Crystal González-Alé and Ivette González-Alé, Atlantis is a place where hot bois are just as likely to be wearing teal mesh see-through tops as they are to be wearing pink short suits. Atlantis is a place I’d very much like to live.
This future world served as the backdrop for the brand’s reimagining of identities and bodies. Form was revealed and concealed as a future dandy navigated the negative space between the monolithic and the fluid. The result was pieces that were classic and radical at once, that used fashion as a tool to subvert gender norms.
I had the chance to get to show up early to the show accompanied by my favorite photographer, Joy Mahoney, and our very own associate editor Lane Moore! We snuck around backstage, chatted up the oh-so-hot models and even got to schmooze with a few celesbians!
Backstage we had the opportunity to speak with lead hairstylist Cesar Ramirez and lead makeup artist Karlo Karlo.
Ramirez said his hair vision for the evening was all about individuality — with just a touch of white hair spray paint to spice things up!
If you really got rid of gender you would just have individuality, everyone would just be their own individual person. I wanted to keep that translated through the hair. Meaning everyone just kind of has their own individual style, everyone does have their own personality and I didn’t really try to conform everyone to all look the same.
Ramirez also gave me his opinion of where androgyny and mainstream hairstyling is headed.
I think [androgyny] is sort of where hair is going right now. With the lines of genders when it comes to hair — like, I see a lot of girls going with much shorter haircuts and kind of playing with boy haircuts, and then you see guys growing out their hair, kind of having a bit more femininity. It’s been kind of trickling through lately, but I think it’s really more prominent now and that’s kind of where it’s going, it’s just no lines between hair, as far as gender-wise.
Karlo explained to me all about how he was playing up eyebrows as the focal point for his make-up scheme. It was important to him that he find something that was celebrated in both men and women. Furthermore, it was important that the gender fluid nature of the show not be compromised even in using something, like makeup, that is traditionally view as traditionally feminine.
If we want to think outside the box as far as gender, as far as makeup, well, what is makeup? Is it for men, is it for women? Well, you know what, it’s for anyone, any body. So we found that the brows were something homogenous that we were going to emphasize.
I also spoke with a few of the models backstage before and after the show! They gave me the inside scoop on how they got involved with the show. Spoiler alert: most of them aren’t experienced models! They’re just hot girls who are friends with the designers!
It was sort of hard to keep it together — Cole, Rosemary Reyes and Arisce Wanzer were just so hot and cool. The best part was, there were so many different reasons why they wanted to be involved in the show!
Cole expressed to me that the Marimacho runway show was all about empowerment, personally and publicly.
I’m excited for it because it’s a chance for folks everywhere to see how fashion can be an empowering thing for the identity, and it’s just overall badass for the people involved. I’m really excited to walk just personally because it’s one of my first times doing it, and it’s really empowering to know that I can walk and look really good in clothes that are designed for me, because you don’t find clothes like this in the mainstream media or the mainstream fashion industry.
To Rosemary Reyes, the show was all about helping support her community.
I’m excited because it’s supporting the queer Latin community and it’s something that’s really close to my heart and I don’t think it gets enough representation, even in a place like New York. That’s mainly why I’m excited, for community building and community support.
Arisce Wanzer told me that as a transgender model, she was referred to Marimacho as the “perfect fit” because of the brand’s concepts around gendered fashion.
I went to their casting and I was like, you know what, I really like what they’re doing here. You have a sense of community, all of it, it’s a great thing. It’s cutting gender norms with clothing because clothing doesn’t have a sex, it’s fabric, come on people. That’s how I feel about it, I love it.
Before the show got started, we joined the pretty people for a rousing pre-show cocktail party. Between sips of the signature drink, vanilla vodka and ginger ale, I even saw a few familiar faces.
Our lovely contributor Gabrielle Korn was in for the evening. For the record, she was rocking amazing red lipstick and flawless fashion. Honestly, she put me right to shame! I thought about going home and completely changing my entire look to match hers.
I also ran into Bevin Branlandingham, who you might know as the Femmecee over at The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Life who we sometimes write about and who sometimes writes for us! She and I gushed over our excitement for any sort of fashion directed at folks with non-normative bodies. “I think it’s really important to create space in fashion for people who aren’t represented in fashion,” Bevin said. “Like, we have this whole fashion week that’s full of tents, full of one really specific type of body that is representative of maybe 2% of people.”
Orange is the New Black‘s Lea Delaria heard about the big event and showed up to the show in all her Professional Lesbian glory. I even had a chance to chat with her about her recent Autostraddle interview! I would love love to give you guys a quote from her, but honestly I was just flirting. Oops!
One of the best parts of my night was talking with cofounders/adorable couple Crystal González-Alé and Ivette González-Alé! Besides looking fresh to death themselves, Crystal and Ivette had all sorts of things to say about their clothing line and the queer Latino community. I found out that the pair’s endeavors are not limited to dapper fashion. The two are heavily entrenched in the Brooklyn art and music scene. They even throw a regular queer latin dance party featuring queer POC DJs.
Crystal walked me through how struggling to find MOC clothes that fit turned into a fully functional clothing line. “I think it was around my second or third year of college that I really started to think more intentionally about how clothing is one of the key ways that I create my gender identity,” she told me. “It’s one of the most visible and immediately recognizable parts of my performance.” Not surprisingly, as she began to shop for mens clothing, she began to have some of the same struggles we talk about nonstop here in queer styleland.
Trying to shop for clothing that fit the way I wanted to was very difficult. Men’s extra-smalls are too big for me. There’s usually predictable things that are wrong with the fit – either the hip comes in too much and you can’t button the last thing or the shoulders are too broad, they’re very predictable. So I thought, I can identify four or five things that I’d change on this cut and it would work for me, so why not do that? Why not start a clothing line?
Adorably, Crystal told me it wasn’t until she met Ivette and the two moved to New York City that her idea came to reality. Crystal had the vision, but Ivette had the fashion knowhow. Like most great things, it was the perfect moment of collaboration.
So here Marimacho is, years later, and collaboration is still at the forefront of their minds. Ivette stressed to me that the success of Marimacho as a company, as well as their NYFW debut was in part because she and Crystal try to stay focused on a community effort.
I think the success that we have is just a representation of the queer community and how strong we are and how much more organized and connected we are, how much we support each other. This whole event was not just produced by Marimacho, it was really a community effort, from the installation art to the hair and makeup to the PR. We’re working exclusively with queer and Latino folks from our community and so our success is really a representation of the success of our community.
Ivette told me all about the theme for the evening. She explained how the idea for Atlantis came from the idea of something almost like a baptism. “I found a lot of inspiration with this idea of renewal and I actually grew up born again Christian,” she told me. “So when I thought about reinvention and renewal and being able to have a second chance, I think about being submerged and re-emerging as something better or something more akin to what you really are and who you want to be.”
Of course, we also talked fashion. Ivette made sure to emphasize to me that Marimacho isn’t just a follower riding the tomboy trend until it fades.
You definitely see androgyny coming up over and over again but I think it’s something that’s recycled over and over again and we’re just in the period of that upward trend. But I think Marimacho’s not just part of a trend, we’re part of a movement for queer visibility. For fashion that goes beyond gender and these polarities. Traditionally when you think of masculine fashion, not only do you think of men, but when you translate into queerness you think butch women. But all kinds of folks can dress in masculine attire or can play with menswear. I find that now we’re trying to push those boundaries — your dress doesn’t have to represent a very specific identity. It can become all identities and none. It can be all possibilities. That’s kind of where we’re headed with Marimacho; we’re unapologetically political.
True to Ivette’s vision, Marimacho’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection draws heavily on themes of ocean and fluidity. The color palette was an array of sea greens, cool blues and coral pinks. This will scare off some and open doors for others. The reality is that not everyone is comfortable wearing pink and it hasn’t occurred to many to even try.
Perhaps trying to fill the void in MOC suiting, the show was packed full of summer suits. Lightweight blazers in an array of pastels make a sharp departure from Marimacho’s signature collegiate style and the Brooklyn Blazer. It’s perhaps time we all follow Marimacho’s lead and take a step back from the omnipresent professor look that’s become so ubiquitous. Barring one white pant suit, the suits for the summer are all paired with shorts. Those MOC folks who live on fashion’s cutting edge will swoon over the short suits for spring, but I suspect others will be taking Marimacho’s new blazers and pairing them with jeans of their own choosing.
Lovers of Marimacho’s classic Super Boi Swim Brief will be pleased to see two new pairs of the beloved swim trunks reimagined in deep teal and pure white. Paired with their latest swim tank, Marimacho nails center of center swimwear once again.
Where the collection really shines, however, is in shirts and tops (no pun intended). Netting, color blocking, linen, stripes, button-ups, the shirts covered an overwhelming amount of ground. They were unusual but breezy and effortless as they flow together cohesively in one solid vision for the spring. Stand outs included a hooded net muscle shirt and a series of button-ups with mid-bust horizontal panels, the subtext of which seemed to allude to binding. My favorite item in the collection was one such shirt, a short-sleeved blue and white striped button-up. A similarly styled jacket was also a highlight of the show.
While the collection showed a few gaps — though a summer collection I stilled hoped for some non-harem pants — Marimacho’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection showed the kind of innovation and bold risk taking I love to see from queer fashion designers. In some ways we’ve become a queer culture where the bodies of butches are bound tightly and stuffed into stiff, traditional mens clothing. I wonder if, perhaps, Marimacho’s Atlantis collection is an attempt to subvert that idea. Loose, wide-fitted clothing as a reaction to the butch fashion we’ve come to know and expect. It won’t be for everyone, but for those who embrace it Marimacho has much to offer us come the warm weather. I, for one, can’t wait.
Check out the gallery below for photographs of the full collection as well as shots of the awesome after party!