Will Welch likes tie-dye — a lot, apparently.
His love of psychedelia’s long-lived contribution to fashion has been a surprise to Anna Wintour, who hosted a party in downtown Manhattan on Thursday night to officially celebrate his taking over as editor in chief of GQ.
“Will has shown himself to be every inch the modern editor, someone who effortlessly embodies what GQ is becoming,” Wintour told a crowd of about 80 people. “Although, um, I wouldn’t have predicted there would ever be quite so much tie-dye in GQ.”
People laughed knowingly as Wintour, herself wearing a dress that was not a far cry from tie-dye, went on to laud the world of men’s fashion, the high-end streetwear end of which GQ is shifting toward under Welch, saying it’s “leading creativity” in the industry. “It’s imaginative, it’s daring, it’s fearless and everybody is doing such extraordinary things in their work and I can’t think of anyone better to introduce that to the world than Will Welch,” Wintour said.
But the man of the hour was in solid blue and navy, not a swirl of color in sight. And he seemed genuinely nervous. His hands trembled a bit as he made his remarks after Wintour, and he frequently brushed back his hair and adjusted his frames.
“I’m just insanely, like, shaking goosebump-level humbled and grateful for all of you being my community, for being our community and just getting together here tonight,” Welch said.
What he may lack in public-speaking polish, he makes up for in earnestness, and the idea of building a “community” around and out of GQ is his first editorial mission.
“It’s an earnest moment for me,” Welch said, noting the room included not only GQ staffers and notables who have appeared in the magazine, but his wife and some close friends, one couple who even brought their baby along, turned out in a blazer for the occasion. Another couple were musicians Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, who Welch referred to as family before they performed a couple of songs.
And this seems to be the type of vibe, naturally on a much larger Internet scale, that he hopes to build around the almost 90-year-old magazine he now heads. He’s not too interested in the notion of a magazine, or a magazine editor for that matter, being around to dictate trends.
“That whole idea of ‘do this don’t do that, wear this suit, not that suit, wear this color, not that color this season’ is not that interesting to me,” Welch said. “People on the streets are doing what they’re doing, so [coming in] was really about, like, what’s a different directive, and so then it’s about who in our community is doing something interesting and how can we amplify it?”
Among the members of GQ’s so-called community present at the party were actors Kevin Bacon, sporting rather long hair and a mustache; Justin Theroux, who made a late appearance and an early exit; Sebastian Stan, and Lucas Hedges, who was on the cover of Welch’s March issue. Longtime Vogue editor Lisa Love, who last year shifted to a role at Condé Nast’s branded content agency CNX took the Wintour approach and left her dark black sunglasses on throughout her time at the party; David Lauren may have been the only guest in a full suit and tie; Dapper Dan may have been the only guest taller than Welch himself.
When a wish of good luck closed a brief chat with Welch, and it was suggested that he didn’t need it, he disagreed.
“Oh, I’ll take good luck.”