Victor Glemaud’s A Charming Designer

Victor Glemaud originally wanted to be a chef. After a few years ripening his skills, however, the New York-based designer decided he preferred fashion. A queer trajectory, sure, but there’s nothing standard about Glemaud, especially his eponymous label.

Though he founded his company three years ago, Glemaud’s still having trouble getting things off the ground. And he admits he’s to blame: “Distribution has been hard for me, because I’m not a sale person and I don’t know how to do it. I’m not a good production person, I just can’t figure out how to do it.”

Now that he’s working with a new business partner, Glemaud’s confident men the world over will enjoy his colorful, gentlemanly line, which is currently available only in Japan.

Our editor recently sat down with Glemaud to chat about his past, his future and his family, a topic with which he obviously expressed a bit discomfort…

Andrew Belonsky: We’ll start at the obvious place: the beginning. You were born in Haiti.

Victor Glemaud: Yes.

AB: And how long were you there for?

VG: Until I was three and then my family moved to Washington DC. My father worked for the government and we moved to New York when I was four or five.

AB: What did your father do with the government?

VG: He’s retired now, but he used to work for the Haitian embassy.

AB: Did you always want to be involved in fashion?

VG: Well, I wanted to be a chef or I wanted to go into fashion.

AB: Those are two different worlds!

VG: Absolutely! But you know what I’ve figured out? The egos in those worlds and the madness and the passion you have to have for both fields are similar. Obviously they’re completely different, but you have to love food and you have to love clothes. I figured out I didn’t love food. I went to cooking school and realized I liked to eat food and like to prepare it for family and friends, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I decided to move back to New York and go to fashion school. I went to FIT and my first semester I started interning with Patrick Robinson. Then, maybe a year later, he moved to Hong Kong – this was the late 90’s – and then I worked for KCD for five years and then I moved to Paris for KCD and then six months later Robinson started working at Paco Rabanne and we started working together again.

AB: You say that a man should have a lot of color. I know that you put a lot of yourself into your designs, so I’m wondering, how does the outside world influence – the war, the election – how does that influence your vision?

VG: The clothes I make?

AB: Or the ones that you wear…

VG: A lot of people have asked me about my clothes and I always say, “Oh, it’s what I want to wear,” but that’s bullshit. I worked with a lot of different designers, I did all these shows that I eventually figured that I like clothes and I liked it. I wanted to be involved in creating the clothes. In terms of how I dress, I feel like I developed my personal dress and it became colorful, but I didn’t want to wear black – I’ve always had to wear black: at shows, at events – I’m black, I don’t think I look good in black, so I need to wear color. I always liked wearing colors and collected all these sweaters and have all this knitwear that I wear all the time – I wear cashmere in the summer and people think I’m a freak, but I hate a t-shirt and shorts. That doesn’t look right on me. What was the question, again?

AB: How the outside influences your aesthetic.

VG: Oh, I don’t know the answer to that – I think about a man and the way that I dress. Men don’t really change that much – you wear jeans, you wear pants, you wear a suit – men go and buy something because they need it and they want to wear it, not like women.

AB: Are you close with your family?

VG: My mother – more so than my father these days.

AB: Really?

VG: He retired and uncomfortable with the whole gay thing and I’m always the same and I don’t change…

AB: He’s uncomfortable with you being gay?

VG: We don’t really talk about it. He never acknowledged it.

AB: Never? Not once? Not through the family?

VG: He found out from my mother, she told him and there was a moment of silence for a couple of years.

AB: That’s more than a moment.

VG: Well, you know, it is what it is.

AB: What period was this?

VG: This was ’96, when I first went to college.

AB: And when did you next talk to your dad?

VG: I would say around 2002.

AB: And what was the first event – what spurred your talking?

VG: He was in New York and I would avoid seeing him, but then I saw him and we said “hey”.

AB: Do you think he’s proud of you?

VG: Yes. Now that I’m making clothes. He can understand – being a design assistant, he didn’t understand that, and being a publicist, he didn’t understand that, either. Now it’s tangible to him.

AB: Do you have siblings?

VG: Yes, I have an older sister who’s 32 and a younger brother who’s 20.

AB: And you guys all get along?

VG: Yeah. My sister lives in Atlanta and my brother lives on 14th street. Where are you from?

AB: I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally. Back to you: do you ever go back to Haiti.

VG: I went once and I didn’t feel safe. There were guys with guns everywhere, the whole thing.

AB: With regard to fashion, what are some guidelines every guy should follow?

VG: Fit.

AB: Clothes must fit.

VG: Not just clothes, but shoes, as well. Men need respectable shoes.

AB: No sneakers?

VG: I’m wearing sneakers, but they’re respectable – men need respectable shoes, not like “dress shoes,” but elegant shoes. They don’t need to be expensive, just elegant.

AB: Are you wearing to sacrifice comfort for fashion?

VG: Oh, yeah! But I work in it, so I go that extra mile. When I was younger, I didn’t eat and put on jeans that were too small – I would do all of that, but now – I’ve gained a bit of weight since I moved back to New York, but it’s a bit easier. I’ve still got the look. I wear a lot of of Dickies and sweaters. I’m comfortable with my look, but I wasn’t always.

AB: When you’re sitting down and designing your line – do you envision yourself or somebody else?

VG: No, I see it on a model, not myself. I always think of the end of result, so I see it the models lined up in my head, on different guys in different cities. I think of how it looks and what people need in their wardrobe.

AB: Do you have a muse?

VG: I just like guys.

Those of you who want to rock Glemaud’s collection this spring should contact him through his website.