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Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.
Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.
Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.
Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.
Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.
Lifestyle

Romeo Hunte Enlivens NYC with Festive Fashion and Holiday Windows

By Eliza Jordan

December 23, 2021

The emerging New York-based fashion designer Romeo Hunte is on the move, bridging design and fashion for a recognizable look. After his gender-fluid streetwear garments graced some powerful names—like Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Zendaya, Hailey Bieber, and The Weeknd—Hunte hit a high note this year by attending the Met Gala with Lewis Hamilton and collaborating with Tommy Hilfiger. And to wrap up the holiday season, the Brooklyn native debuted his foray into designing holiday windows, in collaboration with Bombay Sapphire.

Three nights ago in SoHo, the designer debuted his elaborate window display to reel guests in. While so much of the neighborhood shops sit vacant, with windows bleak from desolation, this storefront got a bold transformation and a touch of festive cheer. Outside, the brand's blue hues shined, hosting windows that held people dressed in brand new, bespoke garments by Hunte. For both, Hunte gained inspiration from the artwork of Shavanté Royster, who most recently collaborated with the gin brand for its limited-edition Holiday Gift Pack.

Whitewall spoke with Hunte to hear how he created these holiday displays, what's included in his Fall/Winter 2021 collection, and what tips he has on adding a little extra sparkle to the holiday season ahead.

Open Gallery

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about your window designs in SoHo for this holiday season?

ROMEO HUNTE: This holiday season, I’ve partnered with Bombay Sapphire to literally and figuratively “turn the lights back on” in SoHo, which has lost so many businesses because of the pandemic, through this avant-garde “Holiday Storefront” series. 

It’s been really exciting to work with other young creatives in a variety of fields, including artist Shavanté Royster and dancer Nicole von Arx, to create a series of 5th Avenue-esque holiday windows in otherwise empty storefronts that showcase our creativity and mastery in our domains. 

My window features people clad in two bespoke designs that I created exclusively for the space, depicting them getting ready for a holiday show over cocktails. The garments were inspired by Shavanté’s artwork which graces the Bombay Sapphire Holiday Gift Tin and inspired the background of the trio of holiday windows. The color of the jumpsuit that I created plays off the yellow snowboards, sun, and hot air balloons whereas the billows of the garment respond to the ski slopes in her design. My New York style is showcased in the jacket and pants look, mashing up tailored, preppy, and street styles. 

I hope everyone can leave the windows feeling a burst of inspiration for the holidays and beyond.

Open Gallery

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

WW: How did the pandemic impact your idea of celebrating fashion? The holidays? 

RH: We were not able to do a traditional collection release such as a runway with guests. On the bright side, we adapted and gained another skill. Through working remotely we had the ability to release collections digitally to the entire world in a matter of seconds.

During the pandemic, I was still working hard on my collection behind the scenes but it definitely felt like time stopped a little bit. People were staying in and there was a halt on big fashion trends. Now that we’re (sort of) back in the swing of things I think it’s given everyone a new appreciation for fashion and self-expression. People are excited to get out, wear statement pieces, and celebrate fashion again. 

The holidays are a perfect opportunity to reunite with friends, loved ones, and even our customers! I love the feeling of having a community that believes in you and supports you all the way! 

Open Gallery

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian, courtesy of Bombay Sapphire.

WW: You're a Brooklyn native. Do your upbringings there impact your idea of fashion culture's key influencers, like streetwear, sports, and art?

RH: I was raised in Brooklyn, so a lot of the street style, especially from the ’90s, is compatible with the ethos of Romeo Hunte and the DNA of the brand.  I grew up surrounded by women whose creative approach to fashion inspired me from an early age. Throughout my collection, you will always see a few elements that reflect back to my childhood such as my graffiti poncho that everyone is in love with!

WW: How would you describe your creative process as a designer? Has it evolved or stayed the same over the years?

RH: I’ve always used my upbringing and the outside world as an influencer behind my creative process. And it’s definitely evolved but the idea of reinvention has long been part of my brand DNA. 

I love incorporating mixed media into my designs. Whether it’s taking a trench coat and turning it into a dress by removing sleeves or adding bold elements or combining business casual wear and sportswear to create a blazer-hoodie and denim-and-leather jacket-coat hybrid. I strive to change up narratives through mixed media. 

My pieces should be statement-making, but wearable, as well as flexible and gender-fluid—a concept that has become much more prominent in today’s industry, especially within street style, this is something my collections lean into much more than before. 

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.

WW: What's included in your Fall/Winter 2021 collection? 

RH: My Fall/Winter 2021 collection includes my signature mixed media designs. For example, the combination of sportswear elements such as tights and shorts with trench coats and furs. There’s a blend of preppy and streetwear seen through each style as well and features pieces with a striking color range, like combining strong orange and blue tones with softer brown and gray tones.

WW: You've collaborated with an array of brands and designers. What do you feel is the importance of collaboration today? 

RH: My collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger provided an international platform for my designs and also an opportunity to share my voice as a designer. This is just one example of why it’s so important for collaboration. Brands have an incredible platform, opportunity, and responsibility to lead by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion. 

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.

WW: Holidays are full of trends and traditions, especially in fashion. Is there a timeless look you lean into for the holidays, year after year? Personally, or recommend for others?

For those continuing to stay at home this holiday season, do you have any tips for designing or hosting?RH: The holidays are great for showcasing a bold and exciting look. For example, the Crystal Cupchain Fringe Mini Dress is a showstopper and a timeless piece. Its beautiful crystal chain links are a major highlight of the piece and make it a perfect holiday look.

WW: You've collaborated with an array of brands and designers. What do you feel is the importance of collaboration today? 

RH: My collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger provided an international platform for my designs and also an opportunity to share my voice as a designer. This is just one example of why it’s so important for collaboration. Brands have an incredible platform, opportunity, and responsibility to lead by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion. 

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Romeo Hunte.

WW: Holidays are full of trends and traditions, especially in fashion. Is there a timeless look you lean into for the holidays, year after year? What about for those staying home?

RH: The holidays are great for showcasing a bold and exciting look. For example, the Crystal Cupchain Fringe Mini Dress is a showstopper and a timeless piece. Its beautiful crystal chain links are a major highlight of the piece and make it a perfect holiday look.

For those continuing to stay home, don’t be afraid to dress up and have fun. Depending on the elements of your look—whether it’s crystal or color—you can incorporate these details into your home design or the decorations on your tree! 

Bombay SapphireNew YorkRomeo HunteShavanté Royster

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