Paul Burgo has been an up-and-coming name in the industry since last fall, when he started styling Golden Globe-winning actress Anya Taylor-Joy, but the 27-year-old has actually been in the industry for several years now as a budding fashion designer.
Burgo, who studied fashion design at London’s Central Saint Martins, started his career with several design roles at brands like Oscar de la Renta and Monse, and has over the last two years been quietly putting together his own fashion line, called Factory New York, which aims to bring couture-like pieces to the masses.
“When I first got interested in fashion, [John] Galliano and [Alexander] McQueen were really formative for me and I feel like that aesthetic has kind of disappeared a little,” Burgo said. “I feel like it’s partly because it was really exclusionary and very much for the size zero woman of a certain look. There is room for that aesthetic to come back if it’s democratized, so that’s kind of what I want. That old school beauty and glam, but for everyone.”
Burgo launched the brand in November with one item: the corset. The designer’s point of differentiation is that each corset is made to order to fit the wearer. When purchasing the product, customers are asked to provide their measurements for their under bust, bust, waist and hips and can also include their bra size so that the garment fits correctly.
“The corset was the first commercial product because I had so many conversations with my girlfriends and every single one of them wants a corset, but they complain about the fit,” he explained. “I felt like that was a good place to start because I’ve always been really obsessed with couture and working at Oscar I got to see a fair amount. The corset is such a formative piece of any quality construction. Basically any gown has a corset sewn into it, so there’s something I felt was a little bit poetic about starting with a corset when it is literally a foundation item.”
The designer is extending this design ethos into his first full collection, which he debuted on Instagram this month. The collection continues the romantic vibe of the corsets with pieces like a crepe bow top, nylon rosette headpiece, silk faille shorts and patchwork pieces.
Burgo has opted to release collections and pieces on a drop basis rather than following the fashion calendar so that he can be more thoughtful with his designs and cater them to the response each drop receives. He’s also focusing on Instagram to build his following.
“There are a lot of really cool and successful Instagram brands right now, but I feel like there aren’t that many that are doing fashion with a capital ‘F,’” Burgo said. “That’s kind of what I’m hoping, to build a market for that on Instagram. I don’t know if that exists, but that’s why I’m trying to not solidify myself so that I can pivot as necessary to figure out what works best.”
Burgo also works on custom pieces for clients. Most recently, he designed a custom sequined dress for his friend Ivy Getty for her wedding in November, which Burgo said took roughly 500 to 600 hours of hand-sewing, and custom leather trousers for actress Julia Fox while out on a date with boyfriend Kanye West earlier this month.
As he’s been building the brand, Burgo embarked on another career path he hadn’t initially seen himself entering: styling. In September, he teamed with Taylor-Joy, who he’s been friends with for a decade, as her new fashion stylist.
Their professional relationship began with the 2021 Emmy Awards where Burgo, Taylor-Joy and Dior worked together to create the actress’ custom butter yellow gown and bright yellow opera cape.
The duo has gone on to create other standout fashion moments together over the last few months, including the custom Oscar de la Renta violet bustier cocktail dress and peplum jacket she wore to the 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards to accept the Face of the Year award.
Burgo describes Taylor-Joy’s style as having a “very solid old Hollywood” component to it while also being a bit quirky.
“[Styling] is incredibly impressive, but it’s just not what jumped out to me,” Burgo said. “But Anya and I, we’ve been friends for 10 years and it was something that was just super organic for us. It’s also incredibly collaborative, so it doesn’t feel like there’s much pressure.”
Burgo is continuing to work with Taylor-Joy into the new year and said he’s open to continuing his work as a stylist, but designing is his main priority.
“For me the brand and designing has always been the end game,” he said. “Design is the priority and the styling, if things arise organically, I’m open to them. It’s not something I feel that I’m super interested in pushing because part of my realization about fashion is it really is just freaking clothes. It should be fun and working with Anya is super fun. Making the dress for Ivy was super fun and I’m pretty openminded as long as it’s not going to be super serious.”
In the new year, Burgo has several projects lined up, including continuing to reveal his first collection and introducing more sizes for Factory New York’s corsets. Through his many projects, Burgo stays committed to his goal of making fashion more accessible.
“The nature of doing this kind of luxury and high-fashion online makes [Factory New York] different,” he said. “It’s the idea of democratizing fashion because I feel like things are opening up, but that kind of aesthetic is very gatekept. That’s what makes [the brand] interesting: making it applicable for everyone.”
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