TRANSART 2018 BRINGS 3 DAYS OF INTERNATIONAL ART, ARTISTS, AUTHORS & INSPIRATION TO MIAMI BEACH’S GLEASON ROOM at the FILLMORE THEATRE
Showcasing the Talent, Vision and Possibilities within the transgender & gender non-conforming community, the annual TRANSART Artists Showcase & Conference brings together a collection of talents, individuals & artistic genres to create awareness, nurture aspiring artists and enlighten the general population about the many layers of this community.
As part of this 3 day event, the incredibly talented CHAPLIN TYLER will present their collection of gender fluid clothing and accessories on Friday, January 26th, 6pm. at the Jackie Gleason Room at the Fillmore Theatre in Miami Beach.
Leading up to this event, AMBIENTE had a chance for a exclusive one on one with Chaplin, and this is how it went...
What is it about fashion and design that appeals to you? I'm always attracted to something that seems outside of my realm of knowledge, a piece of clothing, an aesthetic, a song, a particular painting. Within fashion and design, I always find myself drawn to something that seems a little off the beaten path, unafraid, something that is going to challenge my standard of beauty, or "wearability". When I was a young teen I got so excited whenever the shows would come out because the pendulum always swung so far. I also think that fashion, along with design, art, etc are important mediums that can create a platform that is going to enchant or contest people's idea of what is acceptable, especially what is beautiful. When I was 12 years old, I started spiking my hair, wore nothing but black, tons of eyeliner, pounds of jewelry. I was the ONLY person in my 6th grade class who looked that way. Even though I look back at those pictures and sometimes cringe, I like to think that being that young and experimenting with fashion the way that I did, helped inform my current temperament in some way or another.
Who do you design for? I spent a lot of time answering this question when I worked for more corporate design companies. Calvin Klein, Reebok, Macy's, just to name a few. It was always such a stifling question. I honestly don't like answering this question because it seems that whatever the answer, it's limiting. Ultimately, I think about the way in which I admire certain creatives, I'm willing to follow them through any journey. I'd like to think that the individual I design for is also willing to take risks, someone who is rebellious, and ultimately someone who is going to appreciate what I've created, regardless if it's a departure of something I've done previously that they used to know.
I've always been interested in fashion. I remember before I went to New York, I remember seeing Hedi Slimane design for Dior Homme. I think in a way it was my first introduction to androgyny within the industry. The models he chose were very feminine, waif-like, as were the clothes. This is what sparked by interest in menswear At the time I wasn't transitioning, but it was definitely a catalyst when I look back at it. I wanted to do menswear because I felt it could be revolutionized, and emasculated.
Give me your thoughts on gender-specific clothing… I think that if you break down gender roles, which are assigned to us at birth, and you really start to question how culturally and socially it is assigned to us, it inevitable becomes arbitrary. I work at a luxury vintage store and often I'll get men that come in and ask "Do you guys only have women's or is there menswear too?" Often my answer is, "Well, we have both, but what is gender anyway?" and then I'll laugh, and see if I've caused a spark in their head, but most times I'll just get a blank expression or nervous laugh back, lol. If men were taught that it's okay to wear dresses or skirts than we wouldn't have gender specific clothing at all. People would be more interested in the cut, fabric, design, whatever. Because gender is so binary, clothing, as a result, is too. It's only until these beliefs are dismantled that we're truly going to have genderless or gender non specific clothing. People won't look at each other and have an expectation of what a trans/cis man or trans/cis woman should be wearing.
3 things I NEVER leave home without
Sometimes a razor (in case I need to shave lol)
What makes an outfit, successful? I have my own rules that I like that are personal. All black, print on print, less is more, more is more, playing with proportion, layering, elements of deconstruction. Sometimes I tie my big sweaters or jackets around my waist and it feel's 90's or like I'm wearing a big couture skirt lol--- I think it works. Honestly, what makes an outfit successful is knowing that you believe in it, and also not following the pack. I hate when people talk about trends for the season. People should be creating trends, not following them. I also mix designer pieces, and things I find from Goodwill, or things that I make myself. Often times, people that are decked out head to toe in designer shit, I think, have the worst style.
Tell me about your inspirations, and what can we expect from you in the near future? I get so inspired by different things. I've always been very inspired by music and film. I played cello for about 10 years. I also have 3 older sisters, two of which are 16 years older than me. I grew up listening to their 80's music, new wave, punk, grunge. My mom also used to bring home a ton of VHS movies like Jawbreaker, the Craft, the Labyrinth, many movies that I was too young to see but watched anyway. They were so informing o me creatively. I remember being so enamored by music and motion pictures, seeing how a whole mood could be curated by sound and imagery. Whenever I hear songs, often I'm thinking about if I could hear it on a runway, or imagine my friends slowly posing and enticing a camera. I just saw this movie "Cat People" which is an erotic 80s horror movie with Natassia Kinski, and the movie score is done by Giorgio Moroder and David Bowie. I had been listening to the score, long before seeing the movie. Once I saw the film, I thought "This would be an amazing inspiration for a collection."
Has transitioning influenced your designs? I'm trained in menswear and womenswear. I've worked in the industry doing both. I think once I started transitioning, I stopped wanting to work in menswear industry, just because it didn't seem appropriate because it wasn't how I was expressing my gender and because there was no room to play. Now that I work on my own collection, I do think about both more. Obviously with most transgender women and trans femmes, much of your time is devoted to your appearance and how "passable" or "feminine" you look. I know that as a designer, I may not always have the most hyper femme pieces because of my background in menswear. However, I think this is where transitioning has influenced me as a designer. I'm still going to have pieces that are oversized, boxy, tailored with a more menswear aesthetic, but it shouldn't mean that you can't feel feminine when embodying the clothes.
How does the fashion world respond to a designer who is Transgender? Will you ask them and let me know? lol. I used to model for a designer named Gogo Graham, she's amazing and I modeled for her for a couple of seasons. She had features written about the collections from Dazed and Confused, Vogue, I-D, etc. I'd like to think the industry is genuinely interested because there is new talent and a new perspective. How many trans designers can most people usually name, none. Because there are so few of us in the public, hopefully that gives us some leverage. I used to work with my friend Austin who is the creative director for Sir New York, he also has been welcomed with open arms. Its hard though, trans/non binary folks are usually placed in a lower income bracket so the thought of even having the finances to produce a collection seem impossible when you're just trying to survive day to day. The industry has been nice to me as a designer, but when I modeled it was difficult. You still have people misgender you, not pay you on time, etc. I've had agencies ask me in a forceful way "well which division do you want? men or women?!" It was gross.
The one person you would most like to dress, and why? It wouldn't be a celebrity. I'd love to shoot my entire family in pieces from the show lol, including my nephews. It would be a great character study.
Tell me about your upcoming presentation at TransArt? What may we expect? It's definitely a departure. The first collection I showed at Faena with Jonathan Miranda, it was much more streamlined. Lot's of black, shiny fabrics and sequins, a bit futuristic, very clean. This collection is way more deconstructed and feels more cerebral in a sense.
I deconstructed a lot of pieces that I found, put them back together, left pieces unraveling. In a way, its definitely a reflection on manic feelings I was having, and all in all was a completely different process. With Faena, we patterned everything, draped, beaded, finished, everything seemed seamless. This collection is very muddy colors, menswear fabrics, deconstructed and unfurling elements, its definitely more chaotic and I'm into the progression. It has a 1950's workforce woman gone psycho feeling. I like to see the importance more of having trans and non binary models too, when I think about exposure in that way, and the design philosophy I have regarding challenging norms, the clothing almost becomes secondary, the identities in those clothes are what really make it shine.