Meet the creative genius behind the wildest fashion of Lil Nas X and L

At the 2020 VMAs, Doja Cat was going for a really particular aesthetic. She wished to appear like an alien fish goddess. To show her imaginative and prescient into actuality, she introduced on Asher Levine, a designer who has made a reputation creating high-tech, futuristic clothes.

At 33, Levine has already created a quantity of iconic outfits, together with the cyborg look that Girl Gaga wore throughout her 2018 “Enigma” residency, Nicki Minaj’s bionic Barbie look throughout her 2019 world tour, and the luminescent bodysuit Lil Nas X wears in his lately launched “Call Me By Your Name” music video. However whereas he’s finest identified for his eye-catching, statement-making items for celebrities, Levine can also be exploring learn how to incorporate expertise into clothes to make them extra stunning and useful. Finally, he hopes that some of these concepts will trickle down into on a regular basis garments.

Asher Levine [Photo: courtesy Asher Levine]

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The one boy in stitching class

Levine grew up in Port Charlotte, Florida. His father was a musician and his mom was a dancer, however they every labored day jobs to pay the payments. As a toddler, Levine loved making issues, an curiosity his mom cultivated by enrolling him in varied courses.

At 10, he took a stitching class and found he was expert at stitching each by hand and machine. Levine was significantly fascinated by utilizing metallic and silky materials that had been tough to stitch however resulted in distinctive seems to be. The instructor invited him to hitch a neighborhood stitching membership the place the group created outfits that they introduced at a contest known as “Fashion by Floridians,” which came about at the county, regional, and state degree. “It was like a mini Undertaking Runway,” Levine remembers. “Besides it will be judged by aged girls at the native stitching or quilting chapter, who would decide your cloth choice at development.”

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[Photo: courtesy Asher Levine]

It was clear from the begin that Levine stood out. For one factor, he was the solely boy in his city who participated in the stitching membership. He would march on stage in the finals, sporting fashion-forward outfits he created for himself, like army-inspired shorts and vests. “This was Florida 22 years in the past,” he says. “I used to be fully bullied at school for being half of this stitching membership. However I additionally had dad and mom who instructed me to disregard the bullies and maintain pursuing my ardour.”

It was good recommendation. Thanks partially to being president of his native stitching membership, Levine acquired a full journey to Tempo College in New York Metropolis to check enterprise. All through faculty, he spent days in the Garment District, shopping for materials for extravagant, avant-garde outfits to put on clubbing. He additionally took a job as a private stylist at the high-end agency Visual Therapy, which allowed him to spend time at Bergdorf Goodman, choosing items from Rick Owens, Celine, and different high designers. “This was actually an training in good style, and what good clothes actually seems to be like inside and out,” he says.

A bit for Lil Nas X [Image: courtesy Asher Levine]

When Girl Gaga and Will.i.am name

In 2010, proper out of faculty, Levine launched his first assortment: a menswear line that had an androgynous, experimental aesthetic, and specialised in leather-based and unique animal skins. His seems to be had been picked up by fashion blogs, which led to a giant break early on.

That very same 12 months, he acquired a name from Girl Gaga’s assistant, saying she was going to be photographed by Terry Richardson for a brand new guide and was in search of an unconventional leather-based jacket. So he started working creating an outsized model. “This was simply when Poker Face had come out, and they didn’t have a giant funds,” says Levine. “However I knew this chance was too good to cross up. The unfold got here out, and it acquired rather a lot of traction, so I actually owe rather a lot of my early success to Girl Gaga’s willingness to help younger expertise.”

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Engaged on a bit for Girl Gaga’s “Enigma” Las Vegas residency [Photo: courtesy Asher Levine]

The calls saved coming, and over time, Levine was capable of cost 1000’s of {dollars} for his customized items—the identical value that you just may anticipate to pay at Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The subsequent huge break got here when will.i.am wanted an outfit for a efficiency at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. He had a selected imaginative and prescient: He wished a jacket in a shiny Day-Glo blue, however at the time, no materials captured the colour. His group reached out to Levine, who ended up taking Day-Glo pigment powder and suspending it in silicone, which he used to create a silicone textile. Then he used this materials to create an iconic crimson, white, and blue jacket for the occasion.

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[Photo: courtesy Asher Levine]

The long run of fashion

All of this publicity helped put Levine on the map, permitting him to develop his enterprise. He creates seasonal collections for fashion week, then makes customized couture items for purchasers. Now, he has a group of three full-time staff and twelve part-timers. Most of his items aren’t as flashy as the outfits he makes for rock stars, however they nonetheless carry his distinct aesthetic, which includes layering materials and creating intricate textures. He now has a shopper base that ranges from Beyoncé to Beth Comstock, former CMO of GE.

Levine says he’s impressed by issues he sees in the pure world, like animal skins and patterns in leaves or bushes, however he incorporates these into outfits that find yourself trying otherworldly. Take a white jacket he created for the current exhibition “Is Fashion Modern?” at the Museum of Trendy Artwork in New York. Impressed by a conventional bike jacket, the piece is designed for a girl’s physique, that includes excessive shoulders and a slim waist. The white cloth is roofed in little bumps, reminiscent of the sample made when butterflies lay eggs. Different components of the jacket function the geometric shapes you may discover on butterfly wings.

[Image: courtesy Asher Levine]

However then, like magic, the jacket lights up, illuminating the advanced patterns on the floor. Levine says the lights are designed to look diffuse, like they’re emanating from the individual sporting it somewhat than apparent LED lights. And so they even have a operate: The arms mild up based mostly on whether or not the driver is popping left or proper, and the complete jacket shines crimson when the driver has stopped. For now, items like this are extremely conceptual, but it surely won’t be lengthy earlier than they’re integrated into on a regular basis garments. Levine says he attended a versatile electronics commerce present in California, the place a group from the authorities wished to know extra about his MoMA jacket as a result of they had been contemplating incorporating lights into uniforms for fighter jet pilots and air site visitors controllers.

Levine is now experimenting with incorporating expertise into each half of the design course of, from utilizing AI and prototyping outfits nearly, to placing lights in clothes and growing completely new supplies. He’s patented a leather-based mould that enables him to create 3D shapes out of leather-based. This implies he may create a bag just by forming the leather-based into a selected design, making a single, seamless form. “I’m not fascinated by expertise for expertise’s sake,” Levine says. “I’m fascinated by how expertise might help enhance the design course of and assist enhance the wearer’s expertise of my outfit.”

In the end, he hopes that the spectacular outfits he creates for musicians assist talk his broader message, which is that fashion may be extra than simply stunning and inspiring; it could rework our notion of what garments can do. “I’m so grateful for the alternative to create iconic items, like the one for Doja Cat, as a result of it’s one thing that audiences can join with,” he says. “Kids, particularly, resonate with these garments that mild up. And I believe of this work as nearly an academic expertise, serving to these children perceive my imaginative and prescient for the future of clothes. As a result of in the finish, these kids are my future purchasers; they’re the future our bodies I’m going to decorate.”