Altu, the new fashion line by Joseph Altuzarra
NewsNew York designer Joseph Altuzarra – the one with slit pencil skirts and Kamala Harris pantsuits – is behind a collection with a non-binary vocation that is defined as 'genderful'
By Nicole Phelps
At the Met Gala in September, Troye Sivan appeared in a bicep bracelet from Leather Man, a diamond necklace from Cartier, and a scoop-neck sundress from a brand no one had heard of at the time: Altu.
That a man wears a skirt is no longer news (or at least not as much as before) and seeing them in dresses has become a fairly common image on red carpets – already on the Met carpet in 2012, Marc Jacobs wore a shirt dress in black Comme des Garçons lace with cheeky white briefs. But the Sivan T-shirt dress was different. Far from being an attempt to "not be boring," as Jacobs said of her look at the time, Sivan's stretchy dress was designed to seduce: "I just wanted to be sexy," she told the Vogue livestream host. Keke Palmer. And boy was she sexy.
For a debut, it couldn't have been more viral – Sivan has 12.2 million followers on Instagram – but Altu isn't really as unknown as it seemed to us that September night. New Yorker Joseph Altuzarra – he of the slit pencil skirts and Kamala Harris pantsuits – is the designer behind the new "Genderful" clothing collection for all genders. Genderful, he says, because he doesn't like the “denial of gender expression that comes with the word genderless or speaking of neutral gender.” Because for him, he adds, “genderful is a very positive word. It recognizes a kind of plurality of identities and I think it gives more play."
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Altu, a line of basics with two models of leather pants as star garments, has just been launched exclusively on Altu.world and MatchesFashion.com. The project arose during the pandemic, but its genesis dates back to much earlier: "Since I was a child, I was always aware of the feminine part that my interests had – ballet, fashion – and I felt ashamed about it", Altuzarra confesses. Having a girl made her realize how early we are indoctrinated with stereotypical gender roles.
During the lockdowns, Altuzarra explored her own way of expressing his gender and challenged his prejudices around masculinity by wearing skirts over pants or plain skirts: "Altu is a very personal reflection of my own discoveries on the subject" , he says. It follows that the collection will evolve as your understanding of the genre – and that of your customers – changes. “That makes it different from Altuzarra, and I like that,” he continues. “Sub-brands are often expected to be stagnant, to create codes that don't change. Altu is almost more like an art project, it exists somehow outside of fashion."
And yet it is fashionable. Leather pants come in two versions: a wide-leg boyfriend style and a slimmer, low-rise version. Altuzarra admits that she wears both, explaining that each model underwent "about 20 tests" to ensure they would work for "all genders, different sizes and different silhouettes" (they have a numerical size from 0 to 7, based on the different measurements, although there will be a table on the web to convert the sizes by gender into Altu sizes). Naturally, Sivan's sundress goes into the mix, along with hoodies and T-shirts—see the opening in the neck of the T-shirts: Altuzarra wears hers like this, and a gold necklace he gave her peeks through the hole. her husband 13 years ago. There's also a reversible leather and shearling jacket and a shoulder bag that converts to a backpack, as versatility is one of Altu's codes.Gender fluidity burst into fashion in the mid-2010s, when Alessandro Michele with Gucci and New York brands like Hood By Air and Gypsy Sport they began to break the conventions of the runway with what for a time we called “unisex fashion”. "I am aware that I am not the first person to explore this topic," says Altuzarra. "The interesting thing about what we do is that we try to operate beyond the binary... I didn't want to design menswear for women," or vice versa. Stores and e-commerce still have work to do to catch up; Switching between the men's and women's departments is the first click that most sites require. But Altuzarra anticipates the change. One of the reasons is the incredible response she got for the Troye Sivan look at the Met Gala. "I think she captured a feeling and a spirit that resonated with a lot of people," she says. “It has been very beautiful to see the overwhelming positive response the brand has received.”
This article was originally published on Vogue.com
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