Fashion

12.4.2015

An Angel Masturbating Softly: Talking DIY Fashion W/ David Moses

New York’s latest answer to a cultural fusion of fashion, art, and a seemingly endless good time is up-and-coming label Moses Gauntlett Cheng. David Moses, one third of MGC, is the brand’s press angel. Alongside the other two members, he’s opened up the label, making it a community movement of sorts. By taking a notably progressive approach to fashion, MGC has utilized their artistic community-at-large, from staging the inaugural collection in an RV, to casting their friends (and parents) as models.

David met his business partners during their time interning together at (MADE Fashion Week alumni) Eckhaus Latta. They were brought together because of a shared emotionally-aware response to design and a mutual penchant for DIY aesthetics. We caught up with David to discuss the young fashion community in New York, what it’s like to work as a tiny, close-knit team, and his notorious Instagram account, @angelmasturbatingsoftly.

Moses Gauntlett Cheng top and pants; Eckhaus Latta shoes

Your parents are creative–your dad plays in the Broadway show Wicked, and your mom is a hairdresser. Do you think growing up with this influence has had an effect on the way you approach fashion and how you interact with people?

My parents growing up always said, any industry that you work in, you’re going to have to communicate with people. I think that’s helped a lot with designing clothes. Esther [Gauntlett] always talks about how our clothes are based on emotions. We’re not like, “I was inspired by 1920s.” It’s more about what we’re feeling in the moment or what we’re going through.

Are you thinking about next season yet?

I have something written down. We always start with a bunch of words, and some of the words were, “mistakes, regrets.” It’s about this idea of, You’re in bed and you don’t really want to get up. You’re wearing one piece that’s really expensive to elevate your entire look. It’s playing off that idea. You throw on one really expensive coat over your pit-stained t-shirt.

What are the challenges of working with two other people?

It’s actually amazing. I cannot imagine working by myself. Just being able to have not only one or two people, but three, to turn to and be like, “Do you think this is OK?”–I feel like three is a perfect number. There are just so many ideas and opinions running around the studio, it’s really beneficial to all of us. It really works when we’re all together. During Fashion Week, we spend 24 hours a day together. We’re all living together, we’re all sleeping in the same bed. But, then you get on this level where you finish each other’s sentences; that’s where you need to be during something like that.

Gogo Graham top; Moses Gauntlett Cheng shorts; Maison Martin Margiela shoes

How do you describe your own personal style?

Fashion is a tough fucking job! I’m not worried about what I’m wearing. I remember for our second show, we did it in Jenny [Cheng]’s boyfriend’s RV in a car [lot] and it was the most DIY, insane show. We hadn’t slept in weeks, and we were working until like 5 o’clock in the morning. Looking back at the photos of what I’m wearing is so strange. I realized that I had just thrown so many things on, because I was so cold. I was wearing a dress, a sweater, big coat, and two pairs of pants; it was just funny to see yourself. You’re so focused on this one thing that there’s no time to even think about anything else.

Do you ever feel pressure to uphold certain style expectations?

When you’re really working so hard on something, you have blinders on. You’re focused on what you’re doing, nothing else matters. My leg could be falling off and I would be like, gotta finish the collection. It’s really consuming.

Have there been any crazy moments with Moses Gauntlett Cheng?

There are always fights, and it’s always me. You’re so focused, you forget to eat. You forget to go to the bathroom. You’re not thinking. You’re like, I haven’t pooped in two days. Oh my God, maybe that’s why you’re acting like a bitch. I’ll get really hungry. I remember last season, FW 15, we were doing this one sweater with a dolman sleeve and we were kind of iffy [about] it. We were arguing about whether we should do another dolman, and I was like, “fuck the dolman!” and I just walked out. I’m definitely a screamer.

Eckhaus Latta pants; Prada socks

Is there anyone you’d love to see wearing MGC?

We’re really inspired by our families, communities, friends, and fellow designers. Ideal people I want to see my clothes on are my peers, my family, and everybody who we’re working with. I’m less concerned about seeing it on Rihanna.

Do you feel like you’re part of a community? There are all these young labels emerging in New York right now, and it seems like you work together.

If you would think about this situation and how it would play out, you would think that all of us would be against each other. If this was a novel, it would be like Vaquera vs. Moses Gauntlett Cheng or something, but it’s completely the opposite of that. We’re like the most supportive of each other. I’m really good friends with Patric [DiCaprio], who does Vaquera. He lives like three blocks away. We’re always helping each do stuff. He styles our lookbooks. He’s always there for an outside second opinion. Vejas [Kruszewski] is a really good friend. He’s always been super supportive; he ordered stuff from us this season.

The making of Moses Gauntlett Cheng SS 16, by Harry Hughes.

Do you think it was a coincidence that all of these labels emerged at the same time?

I’m so lucky to be a part of it and what’s happening. I don’t know why it happened to explode. I remember Patric released a lookbook for his first collection, and then us together–our first season, his second season–showed together in St. Marks Church, in Spring 2015. And that kind of got the ball rolling for both of us. It was like, OK, this is serious, we really want to do this. I think it was coincidence that Vejas was happening at the same time. I know he had a bunch of previous seasons.

He was having a pop-up shop and he asked us to put a few pieces in it, and that’s when I first met him. Also, in the pop-up shop was Gogo Graham, who had her first official fashion show this past season, which was spectacular. She’s been doing amazing clothes forever. I feel like Gogo doing a show this season–maybe she sees we’re all doing stuff and she’s like, Oh, other people are doing great stuff. I feel like it’s really supportive. I want people to do it.

Moses Gauntlett Cheng shirt; Vaquera shorts; Maison Martin Margiela shoes

Have you heard any feedback from the community-at-large, maybe younger kids you’ve inspired?

I love it when I have people tell me that they love our clothes. It’s really nice to know that people are into it. It’s really nice, but that’s not why we do it. Nobody does fashion for money. I’m doing fashion because I love it.

What’s the story behind @angelmasturbatingsoftly? We need to know.

Oh my god. I think there was this Tumblr post or someone’s Tumblr name. It was “an angel masturbating softly to the din of insects,” and I just saw it one day and I was like, angel masturbating softly, there it is.

With social media, people don’t realize there’s a real person behind there. There are no repercussions.

Oh yeah. You don’t get in trouble for saying “fuck you” on a comment, so you can do it all you want. I do get pissed off sometimes. Some girl commented something really mean on a photo of mine yesterday–she deleted it, obviously. I cross the street when I see a group of teenagers. I am terrified of teenagers. They’re so mean. I feel like they’re meaner now than when we were kids. They’re scary!

It was limited to what you could say behind each other’s backs. I mean, we had AIM, but this is a whole other level. You also show people what you want them to see.

Well yeah. It’s like you’re on a reality TV show.

Photographer: Maya Fuhr

Stylist: Hali Christou

Videographer: Harry Hughes

Photo Assistant: Anastasia Patellis

Stylist’s Assistant: Sonia Bruinooge

Producer: Dalya Benor

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