I cannot tell you a single time I’ve attended a runway where anyone, much less half a dozen people, asked me about the hair before leaving until the show at Willy Chavarria. In the lobby of Broadway’s Woolworth Building, steps away from Vogue’s offices, Fashion Week closed with a Nueva York cityscape buttondown and gleaming skin, a bouffant as slick as a pair of glassy jade extra-wide legs, and invisibly sculpted clouds of hair, soft as tulle-stuffed trains, all gliding around a historic building—New York’s tallest until 1930.
“It’s this blend of the thirties, the forties, the fifties, the future, the hell that we’re going through now, all together in waves of different moments,” Chavarria tells me pre-show of how his beauty aesthetic plays into the cross-generational collection. “When I do hair and when I do makeup, the artists work with me throughout the evolution, and the beauty evolves so that by the time we get to the show, it’s like the perfect synergy to go with the clothing.” He worked with hairstylist Joey George and makeup artist Marco Castro for months to figure out what “rebirth and new life” would look like today. He openly references designers like Oscar de la Renta and Christian Dior for silhouettes and tailoring, and “there’s a lot of influence from music—there’s some Celia Cruz,” Chavarria says. We’re listening to a little now in a steamy room being prepped to shoot the looks. “We’ll hear that music in the show.”
Because he’s designing for himself, Chavarria has time to change his mind and dream all the way to showtime about the finer elements of style. “It’s this new glowing universe of beauty,” he says. Part of that is the skin they’re creating on every model with an oil that Castro makes so pure you “can put it on a salad,” Chavarria tells me. “I have to say that Amazonicoil he’s using is game-changing, and it’s his secret sauce—I am his biggest advertiser because I saw an immediate difference.” He also puts it in his hair, which he wears slicked back today with the lengths reaching layered rosaries and a black Sad Papi T-shirt, his usual working uniform.
Across the hall, George is pulling nets over models’ hair, shaping and pinning the structures into what he calls “melted clouds of ’30s and ’40s sculpted waves.” The idea came to him during creative discussions with Chavarria, and after a trip to Mexico City. “I saw these photographs on the wall at a diner shop, and they were these guys that had hairnets and bouffants,” he remembers. “At the time I still didn’t know what the collection was really about or what the inspiration was, but I kind of sent that to him and then he sent me back huge ’60s beehive bouffants.” For the show, they decided on two looks called Pachuco (The Cloud), dusted with Kevin Murphy Powder Puff, and Pompadour, a side-slicked bouncy wave. Then, more waves. “You’ll see in waves of different moments, and the makeup will change a bit throughout those moments,” Chavarria says. At first it’s “young, rich innocence, and then you’ll see destroyed, sad—but still beautiful.”