Vintage Futurism At Chris Gelinas

I have a new fashion crush—Chris Gelinas. The soft-spoken Canadian designer (who cut his teeth at Balenciaga and who is the recipient of the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Award) created a tender cinematic world of “vintage futurism” yesterday that assaulted all the senses. The role of the Standard Hotel, High Line’s wood-paneled loft was to house a mini film set filled with classic mid-century furniture for a collection that explored that same era, but through a futuristic filter. Imagine the world of Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven, populated by either sexed up or more boyish Courreges and Paco Rabanne muses.

Gelinas’s main strength is marrying sophisticated sexuality with sporty urbanity, in just the right doses. His woman wears a white neoprene sweatshirt with cigarette pants, but glamour comes when the sweatshirt is belted, the pants are shiny salmon silk and her feet are clad in chrome platform loafers. She pares down a cocktail dress with silver brogues. She channels the 1950s with a pin-up white body piece under a voluminous full-skirted dress, but the twist comes from a raised empire line waist and a slither of a white turtle neck, taking it into the future.

That white look summed up another of his strengths—an obsession with pushing technology in textile fabrication: He has opened a Pandora’s box of fabric techniques that there is no going back from, and which will surely leave legions of designers trailing in his wake. The dress itself was made of "spacer fabric"—to create the effect of neoprene but with air between the fibers, like a sporty gazar. “When I pushed the mill to do it, they thought it was kind of a joke. But now they see how beautiful it is.” An intricate silver edge trim came via the motor industry—“I found it and thought it deserved to be seen in all its glory rather than lurking behind a car seat!” Another hit was an engineered petrol green body suit – it looked boned, but instead Gelinas laser cut and sandwiched the fabric panels so it sculpts the body but allows complete freedom of movement.

Another strength is his sharp eye for unexpected detail—silver-ribbed cuffs at the bottom of sporty tailored pants, extra flaps on the back of a jacket and a rose gold clasp for a detachable belt—“we love luxe hardwear!” The joy of designer presentations over conventional runway shows is being able to touch the clothes, and a joy it was to play with all those details that give his work such depth and intelligence—you could almost smell the crispness of the satins.

Combined with remixed tracks from film composer Philip Glass, four out of five senses were catered for. The only one left is taste…it’s an interesting thought to imagine what a collection would taste like—I think his would be coral macaroons and crisp white Sancerre.

Photography by Chris Swainston

Follow Mary Fellowes on Twitter @maryfellowes

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