The LVMH Prize is one of the most prestigious fashion design competitions. It propels young designers in front of the eyes of the industry’s most powerful names, offering creative mentorship, financial support, and limelight. As we count down to the final ceremony on June 6, CR spotlights the nine finalists on this year’s roster.
Matthew Adams Dolan has always been interested in the development of societal style. It’s an interest that stems from his own upbringing, which has spanned the globe. (He was born in the U.S., grew up in rural Japan, studied French literature in Switzerland, and earned his undergraduate degree in Australia before moving to New York, where he received his MFA and now lives.) In the past few years, the 30-year-old designer has established himself as a force on and off the runway (his debut show was only a few seasons ago), thanks to his masterful repurposing of denim as a transformative fabric to craft stylish, oversized styles and Rihanna-approved ensembles. For Fall/Winter 2018 specifically, Dolan focused on the evolution of American garments—not so much in the codes of streetwear, but rather those “that came to establish how Americans dress.” References like Jackie Kennedy and signifiers of the classic wardrobe come to mind—cable knits, khakis, trucker jackets, and plaid shirts. Here, CR speaks to the designer about how he remembers the past and imagines the future.
How do you think your varied past experiences around the world have shaped your work and point of view?
More than anything, living in another country—and being able to see it as an outsider—really affords you a different lens to look at the people around you, at culture, and how the society works, or at least at how you experience it personally. Being able to have lived in these other countries really also shaped how I came see the U.S. and what it meant to me to be American. In terms of work, the experiences made me start to really look at how people [everywhere] are dressed.
You have long used denim as a key tool for communicating your ideas into fashion. How have you seen your relationship with denim as a material change from the onset of your career to now?
Denim has such a varied and fascinating history, and has been such an important part of how people have dressed. It embodies so many dualities: On one hand it’s synonymous with the American West—with workwear and cowboys—but on the other, it became a defining element in establishing how hip-hop artists dressed. It became the uniform of teenagers in the 1950s and then a huge part of punk culture, and now has become such a fundamental part of what people wear throughout the world. It is something that people are so familiar with and I think that gives a lot of room for interpretation and experiment.
What is your favorite moment of someone wearing Matthew Adams Dolan so far?
I would have to say it was the first time I saw pictures of Rihanna wearing my graduate collection. I had just finished school and had no idea what I was going to do with myself—I had been to so many interviews trying to find a job. Seeing those images for the first time was such a surreal experience. It also marked the beginning of an amazing relationship with her and the creative team involved, so I will always be so grateful for that and everyone who made it happen.
What is your biggest source of inspiration and greatest challenge?
Looking at how people have dressed historically and how I see people dressing around me are what inspires me the most. I’m always reading, watching, or listening to something, and it sends me into these obscure wormholes of obsession, forming links to things or transposing two contrasting ideas together. As such, running a business is definitely the greatest challenge.
For Fall 2018 you document the evolution of American style. How would you describe the time we are living in today? Do you think we are harkening back to the classics (as you do in your references) or moving toward something in the future?
Much of the history of American style is so intrinsically linked to ideas of democracy, empowerment, and aspiration, and in the current political climate, I think it is more about subverting these “classic” references in order to explore the American identity by creating a dialogue of inclusivity and diversity.
PHOTOGRAPHS DAMIEN KRISL
FASHION JOANA DACHEVILLE
MAKEUP MAYIA ALLEAUME
MODEL OUDEY AT OUI MANAGEMENT
CASTING DANTE FRONGILLO
SET DESIGN ELEONORA SUCCI
PRODUCTION HANNAH HUFFMAN
DIGITAL TECHNICIAN YOHAN BUREL
PHOTO ASSISTANT THOMAS CLODINE-FLORENT
FASHION ASSISTANT GLEN MBAN
MAKEUP ASSISTANT ELSA OLSON
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