No “Queen’s Gambit” for him. Victor Weinsanto binge-watched documentaries about 19th-century aristocracies in recent months and decided the courtesans were far more interesting and inspiring than the royals.
To be sure, the racy inspiration yielded another terrific collection from this fashion wunderkind, plus a throughly entertaining film that had a cast of wigged, wide-eyed characters emerging from an antique wardrobe and storming through the boudoir in a range of fierce and fun fashions.
This 27-year-old French designer, whose last job was working at the elbow of Jean Paul Gaultier on his “Fashion Freak Show” cabaret, seems to have inherited his former employer’s yen for theatricality, daring and innovative cutting. Weinsanto has range, too, turning out everything from a couture LBD of tightly stitched rows of tulle that explodes upward into a face-framing froth — he likened it to a hedge — to a range of T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies just as inventive in their generous proportions and elegant draping.
The collection skewed toward after-dark proclivities: clinging velvet dresses, fierce bomber jackets with corset details and glossy coats with blurred prints of, you guessed it, courtesans.
Weinsanto also loves designing structured handbags, this season in faceted, diamond-like shapes — one sprouting two jutting shards that could probably take an eye out. But in the next sentence, he’s telling you excitedly that he found a new manufacturer and was able to bring down his prices. His well-cut pants and clever tops are also accessible entry points to his brand.
Sensing the raw talent and commercial potential, Adrian Joffe of Dover Street Market Paris put his ravishing Place Vendôme showroom at Weinsanto’s disposal last season, yielding orders from Nordstrom and others, and has now hooked him up with one of his Comme des Garçons factories for the knits.
Joffe also gave Weinsanto the keys to the 17th-century mansion DSMP just leased for cultural and community projects, in addition to retail. The designer filmed his show video there, shot a campaign, tagged a wall with pink spray paint and welcomed a slew of editors and various admirers, including Gaultier himself.
But it’s still an all-hands-on-deck, family-and-friends affair, from the ramshackle set that looks like a million francs on screen to the extra long Weinsanto-logo scarf hand-knit by the designer’s mother. Awww…