THE INTERVIEW: Fashion Designer Gary Graham

What to Wear in Abandoned Places

His designs are delicately crafted, incorporating Japanese dyeing techniques, distressed leather, reversible jackets, silks and intricate embroidery. Mythic, romantic, moody and rock star are some of the terms used to describe his collections. I say his clothes are what a poet and time traveler can wear to leap into centuries past or future without blowing her cover. He says, “It’s like Scarlet O’Hara after the war.” I got to interview Gary Graham and ask what’s a typical day in his life like, who are his influences and where he would go if he could time travel. Gary Graham’s designs are available at ABC Carpet and Home, on the first floor.

What were you like as a young boy?

I was really into Vincent Price and horror movies. I was very shy and stayed inside. I went to see Vincent Price give a lecture and he was so incredible and creepy and generous. I made lots of costumes and puppets.

When did you start designing?

I started designing my own collection in 2000.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Washed and worn, dark, romantic, past lives.

Who/What are your influences?

Its like Scarlet O’Hara after the war. That transition was a big influence or Dorothy in the reverse from distressed to clean. David Lean’s Oliver Twist (I wanted to be in that gang). Times Square with Robin Johnson. My mom’s tooled leather distressed stilettos from the 30’s. Tallulah Bankhead in Lifeboat sort of blew me away and made me think that there was a whole other type of person out there. Edward Gorey.

What kind of woman, do you think, likes to wear your clothes?

I just did a trunk show up in Calgary and all of the women were smart, beautiful, a bit off and completely amazing. I had so much fun. If there was a big fancy party with like a live band and a big staircase entrance, my customer would enter through the garden doors covered in mud or something like that and the leading man would fall in love with her and then she would ignore him and then regret it the next day.

What’s a typical day for you like?

I wake up at 5:30 and meditate, drink coffee, do a power sketch stream of consciousness session, work out at the gym, get to the studio by 10 and meet with my team. Then the day just kind of happens. We design, make and sell clothes. Then I go home and go to bed. I do exactly the same thing everyday.

What music are you listening to right now?

Right at this moment, I am listening to Brian Eno. I’ve been listening to Meredith Monk a lot lately and also Marilyn Manson’s American Family album I’m relistening to. I listen to Svarte Grenier most Saturday mornings if I am home. Vorak, Irene Cara, Red House Painters, Minor Threat, this type of thing. First, Last, Always by Sisters of Mercy is one of my favorites.

What type of sunglasses are you into right now?

I cant wear sunglasses.

What public figure would you like to dress/design for?

I’ve dressed Lili Taylor and I love her to death. There is a scene at the end of Abel Ferrara’s, The Addiction where she is covered in blood walking through the streets that is just incredible. We have lots of cool women shop at the boutique but I don’t like to name names.

If you could time travel, what era would you go to and why?

I just read Luc Sante’s, My Lost City so I would like to go to 70’s NY for a couple of days. It seemed like a no man’s land. I like abandoned places.

Sheehan McGuirk

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