Entering Gary Graham’s atelier and showroom in Tribeca is like stepping into another world, one where textiles and artifacts from across so many eras collide to create the perfect space to experience his rich and layered line of clothing. Mixing fine art, craft, and high fashion, Gary Graham brings his fantastical women’s wear to life in his newly redesigned showroom, outfitted with curated pieces from antique connoisseur Kabinett & Kammer.
Graham worked with friend and Kabinett & Kammer founder Sean Scherer to revamp the space, which had originally been dark and brooding, much like the backstage of a set. Now the walls are bright, letting the rich patterns and textiles really pop. Each piece seems to have a whole history unto itself, but there is of course an overarching theme, or common thread. With walls covered in Graham’s own sketches and illustrations, a story begins to emerge about the fanciful characters that wear these costumesque clothes, and live amongst these fascinating objets.
Coming from a background deeply rooted in the arts, the creative thread seeps into everything he does. Graham studied fashion and performance art at the Art Institute of Chicago, before getting into costume design, where he worked on projects like the award-winning Lion King. It was here Graham learned many of the techniques and skills he still employs today, such as garment dying and cutting. It also gave him and understanding of how clothing can be used to convey so much more than just style.
When Graham launched his eponymous line in 1999, be brought with him many aspects of his previous experience with performance, art, costume, and design to craft beautiful narratives through his thoroughly researched personaes, fabrics, textiles and clothes. This is something that has always been important to Graham’s work and process, which you can see in campaigns like his Fall 2016 fashion film, Palacetor, which features fictional characters crafted around twelve powerful women, and his collaboration with Kabinett & Kammer, which brings to life a story and creates an experience for visitors to step out of the ordinary and into his fantastic world.
I had so much fun talking with Gary about his latest collection, along with his marvelous archives on view in the Parlor of the showroom. I really cannot suggest strongly enough how important this shop is! It is a must visit if you are in NYC. You just have to be there to see and feel and touch all of these amazing garments, and to experience the richly layered stories that his so artfully crafts.