“I went back to Eighties music,” said menswear designer Andre Landeros Michel, a graduate of Parsons School of Design in Fashion Design who interned for Thom Browne. “I was feeling nostalgic through music.”
Michel’s inaugural presentation and show of his company Landeros New York during New York Fashion Week 2014 featured 17 looks, outfitted from head to toe, with original accessories and footwear customized with raw Chinese silk, mohair, and muskrat.
Much of Michel’s debut collection for Landeros New York drew inspiration from the designer’s love of Goth, as well as the atmosphere surrounding New Wave and New Romantic music that was popular in the Eighties nightclubbing subculture. “This collection is heavily influenced by music and art from the early Eighties,” said Michel.
Described by Michel as “unconventional luxury,” the collection featured double-faced cashmere, wool bouclé, silk charmeuse, wool crepe, silver fox, raccoon, sable, and neoprene. “Some of the imagery is dark,” said the designer, “slightly romantic with a hard edge.”
Michel’s initial foray into New York design was a collection of clutches and bags sold at Oak in New York City. Handcrafted in Sweden, The Restraint Collection drew upon Michel’s love for leather and fetishwear. With a wink and a nod to bondage and S&M, the edgy collection sold out for Holiday 2012 at Oak NYC.
According to Michel, “This collection maintains the same thread, but with a softer approach. It’s not as rigid. It’s a lot more fluid and soft, the softest I’ve ever done.”
The designer cites German performance artist Joseph Beuys as “a huge influence for his severity and rigidity and his color palette. Charcoal grays. Beuys used stiff wool fabric: fabric of the people. It was a utilitarian fabric. The fabric of factory workers. I’m doing a luxe version of the factory workers.”
To help simulate the Eighties vibe for the Landeros New York presentation, New York DJ Steve Travolta created a soundtrack from a list chosen by the designer, including tracks by Cabaret Voltaire, Gary Numan, Arcadia, and Tones On Tail.
A New York club kid from an early age, Michel observed – and learned from – the fashionably outré denizens of Manhattan’s nocturnal underworld. “I owe Kenny Kenny a huge thanks because he was the doorman for clubs like Red Zone,” recalled Michel. “I was 16 and I used to make dresses out of garbage bags. I was obsessed with this idea of dressing in black as a sort of vampire subculture.”
“New York, for me, in those days, was glamorous,” said Michel. “I went out to see people dressed up. They inspired me. Artists like Klaus Nomi.”
Michel also referenced the Biblical verse “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” from Judges, which was used by the Eighties band Scritti Politti for their second album Cupid & Psyche 85.
For Michel, the verse serves as a reminder that “from toil comes beauty and that for all the struggles and all the ups and downs, putting in the work can result in something truly beautiful.”
In the hands of Michel, discipline begets beauty.