Weinsanto, the Designer Bending the Conventions of Couture

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Weinsanto Spring/Summer 2023
Weinsanto Spring/Summer 2023Courtesy of Weinsanto

Having worked with Y/Project and Jean-Paul Gaultier, French couture and ready-to-wear designer Victor Weinsanto is shaking up Paris Fashion Week with his theatrical, empowering designs

  1. Who is it? Weinsanto is the eponymous label of French couture and ready-to-wear designer Victor Weinsanto
  2. Why do I want it? Theatrical haute couture and ready-to-wear creations that celebrate the beauty in human complexity and individuality
  3. Where can I find it? Weinsanto is available directly through the label’s own website as well as at Dover Street Market (Beijing, Ginza, Singapore, London, New York, and Los Angeles), Jogging, Printemps, Modes, Selfridges, H Lorenzo, Notre and Cowboys 2 Catwalk

Who is it? In 2018, with internships at Chloé and Y/Project under his belt, designer Victor Weinsanto set his sights on working for the enfant terrible of French fashion, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Although numerous attempts to send his CV to the fashion house fell flat, kismet – and his uncanny resemblance to Gaultier – brought him face-to-face with his childhood hero: Weinsanto was cast as a young Gaultier by photographers Pierre et Gilles for a portrait commissioned by the legendary designer, of his younger self alongside his late partner. “Jean-Paul accepted that I was him and then we did the picture. That’s how I asked him directly for a job,” laughs Weinsanto. “In French, we say sans culottes (without underwear) which means to have no shame. So, I just asked. Sans culottes.” 

Two years later in March 2020, Gaultier sat front row for the presentation of Weinsanto’s first collection, next to the designer’s mother. Although Weinsanto never intended to launch his eponymous brand at that moment (on the brink of the global pandemic), Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons, was also present on that day in March. “He thought my show was funny, so he offered us the opportunity to be part of the Dover Street Market Paris showroom. It kind of saved us.” 

From this first collection, Weinsanto’s theatrical haute couture designs, and accompanying presentations, have conjured a sparkly, lambent world where individuality is affirmed and the creative jumble of all our separate quirks is exalted. Trained as a professional dancer, the designer’s sensitivity to the relationship between body and space enables him to create costumes that empower the wearer to stand proud on their patch of Earth. In an era where models often file anonymously down the runway, Weinsanto does the exact opposite: “I’ve always said ‘if you’re angry today and you’ve had a bad day, no worries! You can be angry on the catwalk.’ Just be whatever you want. Just embrace yourself, embrace your person and it will make the clothes shine even more.” 

The designer’s latest show, Common Love – which opened Paris Fashion Week – unfurled as a sartorial ode to those closest to him. “I was at a Vogue dinner surrounded by designers, many of whom are my friends, and I thought it would be so fun to use them in the show,” he explains. And so, he sent his designer-friends down the catwalk in wonderfully surrealist designs dreamed up specifically for them. For example, Charles de Vilmorin – creative director of Rochas – was fitted with a halo-esque sculpture of thoughts and inspirations “coming out of his mind,” and walked with a sketchbook in hand. “I didn’t want to transform my friends. I wanted to celebrate them for who they are.”

Why do I want it? It is tempting to describe Weinsanto’s dramatic haute couture costumes as performative, yet to do so would be too simplistic. Weaved within the exaggerated asymmetries of his caged corsets and the nude revelations of his shibari-inspired ‘dresses’ (as worn in his latest show by burlesque performer Allanah Starr), is a pressing desire to encourage humans to live their truth. His deft hand as a couturier allows him to bend the conventions of the medium to create wildly detailed music hall-inspired costumes that mirror the intricacies and obscurities of being human. The unorthodox silhouettes both protect and reflect individuality, encouraging the wearer to hold space, for themselves as well as others. 

Take, for example, the extravagant shimmering fan of his monumental ‘bridal veil.’ Made from 90 metres of fabric (and, thankfully, supported by a helmet), each pleat is heavy with emotion and drama. Yet, contrary to most religious conventions, the complexity of his beloved bride is revealed – and not concealed – from the get-go.  

Alongside his couture designs, Weinsanto has a more accessible ready-to-wear line, since “it’s important that all people, like my mum, my sister, my best friend, can wear my designs,” he says. The clothes continue themes from his haute couture collection – like corseted trousers and dresses – yet are rooted in functionality so that people can live with ease within his designs. His latest collection features his signature dungarees updated with snap-buttoned breast pockets to accommodate breastfeeding (a nod to his sister who recently became a mother). 

Given the otherworldly aspects of his designs, it’s only natural that Weinsanto has grown his universe into the digital sphere of the metaverse. The designer recently designed a collection of NFTs to be released soon on Brand New Vision: eight virtual outfits created in collaboration with K-Pop girl group Lightsum. “It was really fun to design in the metaverse without thinking what is possible or not,” says Weinsanto, “and now, we have many more projects within the metaverse.”

Whether in the physical or digital realms, Weinsanto generously shares with all his mischievous joy for life through his creations. As the designer reaffirms, “Fashion, like we know it from the 90s, is over. We don’t want mean designers, thinking that they are king of the world. We are just normal people doing the same job in a different way. And we can each inspire each other.” 

Where can I find it? Weinsanto is available directly through the label’s own website as well as at Dover Street Market (Beijing, Ginza, Singapore, London, New York, and Los Angeles), Jogging, Printemps, Modes, Selfridges, H Lorenzo, Notre and Cowboys 2 Catwalk.