I want to continue a message of inclusivity in my work so that all people can look fly and feel fly in what I create.

Willy Chavarria debuted his SS18 collection entitled “Cruising”, at the iconic New York City leather bar, The Eagle. There could not have been a more appropriate venue for a cruising themed collection where cruising actually happens. The collection was a blend of sub-cultures, bringing together bits of California Lowriders and the New York 80’s leather scene. We saw a lot of play on proportion and texture; nylon, and of course leather came in the form of trousers, trenches and moto jackets, with leather hats and moto gloves. Khaki wide-leg trousers were paired with shirting with dropped shoulders giving you Cholo East L.A. vibes, whilst denim was cropped and widened.

Within the collection Willy unveiled a collaboration with artist and childhood friend, Brian Calvin, who gave the Coors Light logo a face-lift to read, ‘Cares’, and the signature Marlboro logo to read, ‘Mayhem’. We all need a little extra care in these current times of mayhem. We caught up with the Californian native and discussed the inspiration behind the collection, casting, and what’s next for him.

You titled your SS18 collection ‘Cruising’ and appropriately enough, showed at iconic gay leather bar, The Eagle. Tell me how cruising inspired your collection and how you chose the Eagle as your venue?

In designing the collection I combined equal parts Chicano Lowrider and 70’s, 80’s New York Leather scene influences. “Think Blood In Blood Out” meets Robert Mapplethorpe. I wanted to show a romantic unity in bringing two completely different cultures together. The action of “cruising” is equally important to both lowrider and leather cultures, though entirely different in nature.

Tell us about the collaboration with Brian Calvin.

Brian and I wanted to interpret elements of the norm, into ideas that reflect our current social moods. Having a segment about America in “mayhem” and showing empathy by wearing the word “cares” across ones chest is a way of combining the concepts.

 I like how your peppered the venue with flowers and had Palo Santo wafting through the air, and guests were treated to rosary beads upon entry. How did these elements come together for the presentation?

The goal was to invite the audience into worlds that they may have never experienced. I wanted to surprise any preconceived notions of the venue, by creating a mood of elegance. I wanted it feel like a romantic Mexican funeral in a way. A quiet image the veterans of the gay resistance to hate.

You had a gorgeous cast of brown models in cornrows. Tell us a bit about your casting and beauty for the show.

In a time when our American leadership seems to be on the attack of brown-skinned people, it was a conscious effort to cast all Latino men. I wanted to show a range of beautiful brown men – all shapes and sizes. And then the amazing Nelson Vercher did the braiding to highlight their natural personal style and push it to new levels of elegance.

What’s next for Willy Chavarria?
Next steps for WILLY… continue to make people feel. I want to continue a message of inclusivity in my work so that all people can look fly and feel fly in what I create.