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Growing up in Mexico City, Carlos Garciavelez was inspired by a household full of architects—his father, his uncles, and his grandfather were all industry professionals. At a young age, it was clear to Garciavelez that studying architecture was a practical path, and a career that would provide the stability to explore whatever else he chose to pursue in the future—which eventually would be fashion. “It was pretty defined that I wanted to do fashion, but I didn’t have the guts to do it then, and I thought architecture was a great foundation for whatever it was I wanted to do,” he told us recently in New York.
He went on to move to the United States, earning a BFA and a B.Arch. from the Rhode Island School of Design before practicing architecture in New York at Gabellini Sheppard Associates. There he worked on designing retail interiors and commercial and residential spaces, which led to developing a variety of global and local projects.
Thereafter, Garciavelez made his way back to Mexico to work on projects there before returning to the United States to pursue a master of architecture in urban design at Harvard University.
All the while, he followed fashion, but instead of pursuing another specialized degree, he applied for an internship at Alexander McQueen in London. “They took me!” he recalled of his exciting acceptance. “I basically worked on everything. They trained me to be able to do whatever came my way, so I worked there on special projects as well.” Then under the creative direction of Sarah Burton, the team was completing a Spring/Summer collection, and had just received the wedding dress back from the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, after her big day. “My first assignment was to come in really early and unpack a box—and it was the wedding dress,” he said. He spoke about his duties at McQueen, handling dresses for royalty, celebrities, and supermodels, and “going through the archives, which was the most beautiful part.” That moment of intimacy was when he decided, “Okay. This is it. I know it.” And it was.
Last year, GARCIAVELEZ—Garciavelez’s own label—introduced its menswear line, quietly debuting a collection for Fall/Winter 2015 the season before New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) officially re-launched. Later that year for Spring/Summer 2016, “Lucent Stasis” deliberately made its mark at NYFWM, sponsored by Cadillac at Industria Superstudios, and nearly everyone was enamored by the variety of vibrant blues and standout neon-centric lines. The dynamic collection shone with a sophisticated spin on florescence, and casual, seemingly unisex pieces were noted, including suits and bombers, and shoes created in collaboration with Diemme. Inspired to explore the ideas of reflecting, concealing, diffusing, and capturing the ephemeral qualities of light, Garciavelez drew this inspiration from two art installations: a Dan Flavin light installation from 1996 and Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum from 1982–86, both exhibited at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.
“I wanted to experiment with how to suspend the temporal quality of light within the garment,” said Garciavelez. “The challenge for me was to capture a finite quality of an incandescent source and how that related to the human body.” He said that instead of drawing inspiration from just art, “It’s more of an idea of art and travel—like the whole situation in regard to Marfa. Going to see what the space is about. I think that triggered the idea of light.” He continued, “I see light through architecture, too, like what we do with lighting reveals. How do you wash a surface with light versus how do you paint a garment? I try to manipulate the garment to show that type of reveal. So it was kind of a translation of that into the garment.”
Since then, GARCIAVELEZ, described as menswear “constructed comfort for the urban nomad,” has translated many of Garciavelez’s inquisitive thoughts, including the deterioration of materials and the many facets and concepts of infrastructure. For its fourth season, GARCIAVELEZ presented its Fall/Winter 2016-17 collection “Verdigris,” which touched on another natural processes as well. Inspired by Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals spa, carved into a mountainside in Graubünden Canton, Switzerland, Garciavelez explored the rejuvenating, renewing, and sensorial experience of thermal baths. Mirrored by a variety of textured and soft materials, including Italian silk wools and cashmeres, and in an array of pixelated digital prints and neutral color blocking, all of the knit and outerwear mimicked the shapes of the robes worn by the people who populate the hot Alpine springs. “The collection is about calming and focusing your senses through self-reflection—a departure from the rigidity and rigor of the metropolis,” he said.
Between expanding on interests in interior furnishings, urban landscapes, and open territories, Garciavelez will once again begin traveling from New York to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a faculty member at Harvard, teaching students architecture and urban design. He may also in the future have a surprise for the ladies, too—a unisex collection that we’ve all been hoping for. “I started with men’s because I’ve been more comfortable with it since the beginning; it’s something that I knew,” said Garciavelez. “But it’s always something we’ve thought to do as a natural progression.”