Harlem, New York-based designer Toussaint Rosefort didn’t have to travel far and wide for design inspiration for his signature label.
Born and raised on Long Island, he frequently visited relatives in New York City and day-tripped there with his father, who commuted there for work. The cultures of the five boroughs inspired the debut collection, which will be unveiled Thursday night at a show at St. Georges Church near Gramercy Park.
The predominantly black menswear has style options for either gender. The handful of women’s ones will include a custom bridal ensemble that combines a luminous cape with a long black skirt. His designs draw upon such opposing conduits as clergical cossacks and the Bauhaus and Brutalist schools of architecture.
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His uncle Santos Espada’s work as a fashion designer intrigued Rosefort. As a college undergraduate, he studied political science at the University of Buffalo and later studied at Parsons School of Design “to get what he needed from some great teachers,” including former fashion illustrator Glenn Tunstull.
After consulting for a few companies, including Tommy Hilfiger for its urban push in jeans, Rosefort decided to start his company. To that point, the runway presentation will feature male and female models. A bridal look geared for curvaceous brides that can be custom ordered will close out the show. A bondage wrap blazer, a cashmere wool puffy trenchcoat and rose petal pants are expected to be key pieces in the 20-piece collection.
Aiming to offer wholesale and direct-to-consumer, the designer said buyers from specialty stores will be on hand at Thursday’s show. With retail prices ranging from $200 to $2,000, the “clean and concise” line is meant to be versatile enough for a night that starts at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center and ends at a rave in Brooklyn, New York, according to the designer. His indie spirit will be evident in the runway show’s casting, which will feature Logan Sylve, Dylan Blanco and other friends, who are artists, models and deejays. Matt Rossi, for example, will not only style the show but will model in it.
As a nod to the show’s religious setting, there will be pieces that are reminiscent of priests’ robes and emblems of crosses. After spending a good amount of time “cold-calling” different churches in the city and scouting venues, the designer said his aim was to respect the religious aesthetic and not change too much for the show. With dim lighting, seating for 75 and a beautiful interior that includes a subterranean element, the Rutherford Place location had “the romantic, old feel” that Rosefort sought.
The first-year projected wholesale volume for the self-funded launch is upward of six figures. Rosefort said he had been approached about a financial investment but prefers for the time being to maintain creative and financial control. That may change as the business progresses, he said.