Gustavo Lins

It’s no surprise that water, something so basic and essential, so fluid and pervasive, is Gustavo Lins’ element. Every look fuses the classic, relatable basic with its haute couture, draped, shape-shifting counterpart. His clothes seem to diffuse into the imagination, as you envision yourself wearing a variety of his pieces in every manner of situation. Day translates to night, bobo shifts to chic and upscale, and reflective becomes explosive.

Lins’ inspiration for his latest women’s collection comes from “Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 Chair. And I always try to play with kimonos to obtain new silhouettes and evoke new sensations.” Certainly, one can see these references in the clothes: What’s Eastern proliferates, and the swooping curves which characterize the Series 7 Chair can be found in the silhouettes and, more literally, in several sweeping sketches which veer diagonally across the body.

But I think the way that Lins describes his personality is a better lens through which to view his work. According to Lins, the “structure” of his design personality is equal parts “sensitivity, hard work and a taste for the body beyond clothes.” These three elements of his personality shed light on the entire oeuvre of a man whose skill should have already made him famous.

Lins’ sensitivity seems to spring from his connection with water. Interacting in a household of nine children, with parents who had high expectations, Lins reacted by becoming an avid, but extremely perfectionist, student. To alleviate stress and learn about balance, his father advised him to take up swimming. “When I was nine, my parents pushed me into the water. It was the best thing they could have done for me, because it taught me how complex and fragile life is.” Water also became the focal point of his dreams. Reflects Lins: “We were landlocked, dreaming of the coasts and Rio with its beaches… the harbors one departed from when going to Europe.” One can see how this sensitivity is reflected in his collections: The fluid yet minimalist drapery of a kimono-influenced coat that perfectly flatters the female form, or the dreaminess of a gauzy dress whose balance is more diagonal than vertical.

Hard work is essential to Lins’ life. An impressive student, he won scholarships in order to attend engineering and architecture school. He taught himself how to cut and sew, and went to Europe to enroll in a tailoring school so that his experience would be more rigorous. When asked to make a pattern for a women’s bathing suit for a fashion house, he realized he had no idea how to do women’s patterns, and attended the École de la Chambre Syndicale, “to learn how to cut on a mannequin.” Lins worked in Jean Paul Gaultier’s couture house (his proudest moment occurred when he learned he was the first person from Latin America to belong to a haute couture team in Paris), and has worked under John Galliano. His clothing evinces this incredible level of commitment to hard work. Every piece unquestionably fits as it’s supposed to. Tight, sexy dresses skim the body, while jackets and coats are draped to add volume and weight in just the right places.

When we talk about Lins’ “taste for the body beyond clothes,” we really get into his design philosophy. Lins prefers realizing his own vision to following the dictates of fashion. “The energy in fashion is quite weak. I see few people working on themselves and trying to adapt their design to a more human taste. I do believe in something that lasts, that’s my philosophy and my ethic. That’s why I try to be patient and let the process flow at its own pace. I am not connected to fast fashion or immediate results.”

Taking a conscious step away from the fickle world of seasonal fashion, the pieces that Lins creates are at once all the more special and all the more wearable. Every collection, for both men and women, contains items one can see treasuring and wearing forever, and yet, still remains idiosyncratic and noticeable. His style defies time and shifting tides. Instead, his work is anchored in what is, and will always be: sexy and cool.

– Max Kessler