Q&A: MADE For Peroni Young Designer Winner Chris Gelinas

The second his name rolled off of Coco Rocha’s tongue, Chris Gelinas’ heart dropped. A roar of cheers, whistles, and clanking of Peroni pint glasses quickly followed. Coco’s eyes scanned the massive crowd packed into Milk’s first floor gallery, but she couldn’t spot the young designer: “And he isn’t even here!” she said.

In all fairness, being named the winner of the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Awards can throw you for a loop, but once Gelinas recovered, we pushed him toward the stairwell to get a piece of the man of the hour.

Milk Made: So, how does it feel to be the winner?

Chris Gelinas: I just debuted my collection on Friday, it was self-funded. it was really just me and a few people who have been rallying behind me so now to know that I have the financial support of Peroni and the mentorship from Made it’s really going to be such a game changer for me.

MM: What went into this self-funding? How did you keep it afloat?

CG: You become so much more resourceful. It’s all about problem solving and putting out fires everyday. You know, it’s tough it really takes a village. Luckily New York has a huge entrepreneurial spirit and there’s a lot of people really rallying behind young designers and to now have this to help me out for the next collection, let’s just say i’ll sleep a little better tonight.

MM: What was the inspiration behind your submission pieces?

CG: It’s funny, because i had already started developing my spring collection and there were already so many foundations in this idea of italian luxury. I was inspired by two italian filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci and Michelangelo Antonioni. Their very visual rich cinematography was very inspirational to me. The piece I presented as my one piece has this sort of effortless elegance and I think that’s very synonymous with italian style.

MM: Take us back to the moment when you knew there was no other option for you, but to be a designer.

CG: It was the Spring 2006 Marc Jacobs show, it was my very first internship in fashion. Contributing to a collection for the first time was so surreal, but the moment when the Penn State marching band came down the runway … it was probably one part exhaustion, but I teared up and since then i’ve been hooked

CG: What do you see your generation contributing to the future of fashion?

I think our generation is much more in tune with technological innovation and that’s definitely what my line focus on, bridging the gap between innovation in textiles and manufacturing, and contrasting that to something that’s still very classic and feminine. I think us young designers are less averse to moving a sewing machine aside and trying something new.

Fashion Regret?

[Laughs and takes a swig of his Peroni] I probably regret all my outfits, because I can dress people for days, but when it comes to me, I’m not that fashion in tune. Maybe white denim three years ago.

So how many Peronis does it take you to have a good time?

[Takes another swig] No comment. [Smiles]

Photo by Carly Otness/

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