Vying for a sartorial breath of fresh air? Meet emerging design talent Max Gengos. Formerly an associate womenswear designer at Calvin Klein, Gengos has infused the label’s minimalist approach into his first collection, which debuted for Resort 2015. Before CK, the Cornell University alum interned for the likes of Derek Lam, Anna Sui, and Marc Jacobs. It took six months to piece the whole collection together, he’s already secured factories that work with the likes of The Row, Zac Posen, and Alexander Wang and he sources fabric from the top mills in France and Italy. We’ll see where he takes it from here…
How did your training at Calvin Klein inform your aesthetic?
Working at Calvin Klein had a huge impact on my aesthetic as a designer. CK is a massive fashion powerhouse brand, and it was so great to see that side of the fashion industry. My time there really helped evaluate my design aesthetic from a customer standpoint. As much as it’s fun to design one-of-a-kind couture pieces, fashion is a business, so you have to create pieces with elements that the customer can justify spending her money on.
How long have you been preparing your first collection, Resort 2015?
I’ve been preparing this collection for about six months. I have to say the most difficult part of piecing together my first line was deciding which garments to make. It was really important to me that the pieces I chose communicated my visual vocabulary and aesthetic, but also stayed relatable and commercial.
Tell us more about this collection.
My resort collection was inspired by the fusion of space and the desert. I love the concept of marrying the celestial with the terrestrial. A signature of mine is wrapping seam and dart work creating form flattering “incisions” that wrap themselves around the body and give each garment a really modern feeling. Combining that with my fabrics helped to communicate the marriage of warm and rich natural elements, with the colder futurism associated with space.
Your site boasts that the brand is all about “responsible luxury.” What does that mean, exactly?
It’s extremely important to know where your product is coming from, who is making it, and support ethical production in the garment industry. Just as the high-end and luxury market sets fashion trends that trickle down into the masses, so too should it begin to promote ethical production and let the mass market follow suit.
Who would you love to dress in your clothes?
I would love to dress women like Marion Cotillard, Angelina Jolie, and Charlize Theron. They embody the type of strong, beautiful, and feminine alpha-type for which I design.
So what did you learn about red carpet dressing from Calvin Klein?
Calvin Klein does such an amazing job dressing women for the red carpet—they never look overdone, uncomfortable, or like fashion victims. I love how effortless celebrities look in their clothes. Celebrities and clients need to be comfortable and confident in their clothes on the red carpet. If they aren’t, it definitely shows.