Fashion Week

Q&A: Willy Chavarria's Life in Fashion

Designer Willy Chavarria is on a hot streak and The Standard has been (happily) along for the ride. At last year’s CFDA Awards, he dressed Rauw and Tokischa at The Standard, High Line—and did we mention his September NYFW afterparty in BOOM? Willy took a quick break from designing (for his own label and Calvin Klein) to talk to us about recognition, future trends and representation in fashion.
2023 has been a banner year for you: winning the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award, the Latin American Fashion Designer of the Year Award. Personally, or practically, what does high-profile recognition like that mean to you?

I’ve never sought out any award for the work I do. It’s already a precious gift for me, and I feel rewarded daily by the opportunity. I think it is important that we see people recognized for doing work that represents those marginalized throughout history. I am very happy to accept the recognition so that other little brown kids can see creative expression as a valuable way to make a living. 

It’s been a breakout year for Latino fashion designers in general. What do you hope up-and-coming designers see in your career? 

I want people to see that there is a value system to commercial art. There is a voice that can be had in fashion that is as powerful as music, painting or medicine.

We can use the layers accompanying how we dress people and the stories we tell to shift culture and make people see things differently.

You also dressed Rauw and Tokischa for CFDA Awards at The Standard, High Line. What were you thinking before the show that night?

I was thinking about that the night before! Haha. I was also super excited. To hang out with Tokischa and Rauw. We made a full day of it. Just taking pictures and playing with outfits. Those are both amazing talents that I am honored to have worn the WILLY CHAVARRIA label.

It was such a treat to host your SS24 runway show afterparty in BOOM. That must have felt like a victory lap?

There was magic in the air for certain! People still tell me stories about what a great night it was. YG’s performance was mind-blowing, with Eli Escobar, Nomi Ruiz, and my niece Bianca Oblivian tearing up the decks. It was a big night of family coming together to celebrate what we all do together.

Your designs play with ideas of masculinity and gender in this really expansive, original way. How does queer identity inform your creative point-of-view? 

I love my queer perspective and the iconic notions of queer history that can come into play. I think that gender will inform fashion for quite a while longer, but who wears what is completely up to the wearer. I design clothes. The clothes themselves have no gender. So they can be worn by anyone in any way. I actually love to see styles I've made personalized into someone else’s unique expression. It’s one of the most exciting parts of the business.

You’ve spearheaded design at Calvin Klein, one of the world’s most recognized fashion brands, while creating your own collections. How do you balance those creative endeavors? 

I love doing multiple projects at once. They feed each other with knowledge and insight. I realized a while ago that for some people there is no such thing as work-life balance. My work is my life, so I make it all enjoyable. 

In fashion, what do you hope to see more of?

I hope to see more humanity in fashion. While it is a business, I hope we can show the goodness in ourselves with what we create. 

Which trend should we leave behind?


This time next year, what do you hope to have accomplished?

This time next year I hope to be creating something new that I have never even thought of!


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