Cultured Magazine

April/May 2015

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106 CULTURED Fashion designer Victor Alfaro makes a comeback with a deep well of inspiration—15 years of collecting Blue-Chip design. BY TIM MCKEOUGH TAKE TWO In the early 1990s, Victor Alfaro could seemingly do no wrong. Widely pegged as a rising new voice in American fashion, the Mexican-born, New York-based designer made waves when he burst onto the scene with what The New York Times called "red-hot sexy clothes evocative of his Hispanic roots." A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Alfaro's following collections demonstrated he was just as skilled at elegance and sophistication as he was at making big statements—a feat that earned him the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Perry Ellis Award for emerging talent in 1994. However, following an ill-fated deal with the Italian manufacturer Gilmar in 1998, his jet-fueled career sputtered. Two years ago, after buying back the rights to his name and briefly designing a contemporary line for the retailer Bon-Ton, he started over from a studio in Manhattan's Flatiron District. "I wanted to be in control again," says Alfaro, who still designs a home accessories line for Bon-Ton, named CASA by Victor Alfaro. "I just decided to do it, and I'm very happy that I did." So is his expanding roster of clients. Eschewing runway shows and overt extravagance, Alfaro is now focused on designing beautifully pared down clothes for up-to-the-minute life. "I try to be really pure about fit, form and color," he says. His first collection offered a fetching take on haute athletic wear, and for fall 2015, he has created a range of luxuriously cozy knits with unexpected forms. "Everything is sort of blanketing, loose and cocooning," he says. "You won't see evening gowns and beading. That's a sign of the times. A lot of my friends are art consultants and museum curators. I did this collection with them in mind—people who have a busy life and just want to be comfortable." Visitors to Alfaro's studio may also be surprised by the furniture that surrounds them—a collection of gallery-grade pieces by Blue-Chip designers such as Jean Prouvé and Pierre Jeanneret. Alfaro was bitten by the furniture design bug nearly 15 years ago. "In the fashion world, people tend to be very insulated, but I wanted to see new things," he says. "For me, it was just a matter of curiosity. I'd get a book, or get on a plane and go to a museum or an art fair, and learn." His extracurricular passion even led to a new venture in 2007—Vista Art and Design, an online source for collectible furniture from top international galleries and auction houses such as Paris's Patrick Seguin, London's David Gill Galleries and New York's Sebastian + Barquet. Although that website has since closed, Alfaro's interest hasn't wavered. Over the years, he has amassed an impressive collection of both vintage and contemporary pieces, which he rotates between storage and his home and office, where he installs them in spare arrangements. "I like to live in a very pure space," he says, explaining why he doesn't cram his residence with his finds. "Less is more." However, one of his favorite pieces has staying power—a bulbous limited-edition purple fiberglass Nirvana chair by Wendell Castle. "I have the first edition and my twin brother has the second one," he says. "I just love that when you walk into my office, that gigantic chair is the first thing you see. And, purple is my favorite color." While the sculptural appeal of a Castle chair or the studied simplicity of a Charlotte Perriand desk don't directly inform his work in fashion, Alfaro says that being around such pieces provides daily motivation. "They make me happy, and inspire me," he says. "I'm surrounded by beauty." That outlook will serve him well in the years ahead, as he seeks to expand his home and fashion accessory lines, and introduce a menswear collection. "I have big plans," he says. "I'm on the hunt for that next inspiration and next brain fix."

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