Last season, Victor Weinsanto presented his debut collection at Paris Fashion Week, where Simon Porte Jacquemus and Adrian Joffe sat front row to witness his spectacularly larger-than-life, colorful creations, which were shown via a live acrobat element, along with men wielding whips.
The label, which was founded in 2020 and is now both under the Dover Street Market Paris umbrella and also nominated for the LVMH Prize, is fast becoming one of the most exciting brands to watch in Paris this year. “I love taking things to a second degree,” Weinsanto tells us the day before his fall 2022 show on February 28. “I love taking obvious styles and transforming them into sexy, fun, joyful, shapes.” The theme for his new collection? Murder in Paris.
A cast of models, most of them friends with the designer—plus Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu who plays Slyvie on Emily in Paris—walked the show. “They represent what I want to say about fashion. And they not only have strong faces, but they have an attitude and a personality,” Weinsanto adds. This cast took the form of various characters reinterpreted through the playful and dramatic lens of the brand. There was the glam cabaret girl in black feathers and sheer mesh, the eclectic widow who only wears custom couture, and plenty of other pieces that Weinsanto said are inspired by “monsters”: a structured black dress with a phenomenal ostrich feather hat that looked like a mix of hair and a giant spider; and capes and hats that were so large they resembled the kind of dramatic toppers seen in Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits film. Other models wore structured puffer coats and carried BDSM accessories.
And although there wasn’t an acrobat this time, the energy of the show was undeniable. Guests cheered, clapped, and shouted as the models walked by. Everything felt new, fresh, and upbeat—but also a little but underground, not unlike some of the emerging designers of Paris who, in their early days, evoked a similar feeling before shooting up the fashion ladder (think: Marine Serre or Vetements).
Part of the reason Weinsanto’s shows feel so celebratory has a lot to do with the designer’s background. For one, he trained under Jean Paul Gaultier, who also has a penchant for the dramatic. “Even without working with him, I was always such a fan of his work,” he explains. “I admire not only the designer, but the person he is. Working beside him was the best thing you could have as a designer, because it feels like he plays a game with clothes, [like a child would]. That spirit is what I love about fashion; to not take it too seriously and to just have fun in a creative way without thinking too much about the limits or the commercial aspect, but more in an artistic way.” Weinsanto also worked at Chloe and Y/Project and studied at the Atelier Chardon Savard school in Paris.
He also trained in ballet, dancing at the John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany before shifting his career path. “I always think of my shows as performance,” he says. “I always want to bring performers and dancers into the casting because I think it represents me well. It’s a good mix between dance and design. When I was a child, I dreamed of being a choreographer. It’s funny—I’m actually choreographing my shows now.”
But aside from all the performers and over-the-top pieces, Weinsanto offers a bevy of staples that are intrinsically wearable and commercial (not unlike Vaquera, or any of the other brands under the Dover Street Market Paris umbrella). Little black dresses and tops printed with purple and pink prints are some of the bestsellers, according to the designer, while the couture gowns and accessories are created on a made-to-order basis. “Adrian Joffe is a businessman,” says Weinsanto of the partnership. “But he loves creativity more.”
Still, the designer continues to draw from all aspects of art and performance in his work. “I take a lot of inspiration from architecture and art,” he says. “I love seeing old paintings and it gives me ideas of what is beautiful. I take culture and then I transform it in a sexy way.”
As Weinsanto continues to be one to watch, the designer has one major goal in mind: to change the spirit of fashion. “I think [Weinsanto] promotes kindness and creativity,” he says. “There’s an old way of being dramatic and a bit mean, and it’s totally normal in the industry.” For now, it looks like Weinsanto has achieved success there. He certainly brought joy and humor to his audience when he sent a model down the runway slinging a whip and chain.