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Willy Chavarria and Omar Apollo on Faith and Heartbreak

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Three days after February’s Fall 2023 runway show, en route to meeting Omar Apollo at the photographer’s home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 55-year-old fashion designer Willie Chavarria took a look at the 25-year-old musician’s Wikipedia page. What Chavarria lacked in-depth knowledge of Apollo’s career, he quickly made up for with fatherly kindness. ), the details Apollo revealed about himself on the afternoon together elicited “oohs” and “ahhs” from senior vice Chavarria. President of Calvin Klein and founder of his namesake line.

A native of Lake Station, Indiana, Apollo first found success on Spotify, but was closer to Chavarria. Chavarria’s clothing reflects the soulful romance of Apollo’s own falsetto-influenced songs, with chinos of exaggerated proportions and mourning reimagined as nylon sportswear. “And all in Latino models,” says Apollo. “We rarely see it.” His Chavarria at Marble His College Eight in Manhattan this September to unveil his Spring 2023 collection, which is religiously brilliant. , featuring only his models in lush fabrics and dramatic silhouette colors.

A few days later, Apollo played his music, a mix of Latin-infused soul and R&B, on a North American tour as the opening act for SZA. Chavarria had yet to descend from his Fall 2023 triumphant return show staged at his Cooper Hewitt at the Smithsonian Design Museum. Still, the pair isn’t all about success. Some similarities were palpable: they were both gay and Mexican-American, and both were born in small towns where their dreams of artistic stardom were incredibly distant. Linking them further, like the way each came out to their religious mothers while in the car, leading Chavarria and suggesting being deeply involved in each other’s lives is “good in many ways.” Did.

Following a photo shoot that felt like a family portrait session, Chavarria and Apollo delved into faith, mementoism, and how to balance confidence and vulnerability.

Willie Chavarria: Do you know Dave’s New York? Must go while here. A workwear store with Timberland. In fact, they probably have them all in Indiana as well.

Omar Apollo: To be honest, I didn’t dress very well in Indiana. I didn’t realize I had to recognize how things fit.

toilet: What did you grow up wearing?

OA: Go to a vintage shop. She wore a suede varsity jacket with green and dark brown sleeves. It was a few years ago that I found out about the existence of pants.

toilet: Because I’m tall.

OA: Well, it took me a while to realize I had to buy two or three sizes larger.

T-magazine: Omar, you are 6 foot 5. Are you from a tall family or have you always stood taller than everyone else?

OA: The Mexicans in my family are short.i have one Tio He’s tall, but I’m still about three inches taller than him. I have a huge pedigree.

toilet: I have a big family, but I was an only child. I loved it, but as I got older, I started to realize that in some ways I wasn’t everything. I love my family, but I used to go out alone.

T: Omar, you are the youngest of four siblings. Were you the artistic black sheep in your family?

OA: of course. [My parents] It taught me the classic saying, “You need a plan.” I was the type to go step by step. “What do I need to do to do the show? Guitar. What else do I have to do? Audition, find a band, start rehearsing.” Because it meant nothing to me. “I plan to tour the world playing music that people enjoy”?

toilet: I believe that some people have been given special gifts. If you have that gift, the universe will guide you. Like you said, I also did things by the minute. I’ve always been an artist, but I never had a plan. I knew I would become who I am today. I imagined myself living in a big city and coming home with baguettes sticking out of my grocery bag. I’m from a small Mexican-American town in California called Huron, and they didn’t have them there. And here I am now.

OA: When did that fantasy begin?

toilet: Maybe 10 or so.

OA: it’s young To me, I didn’t think of myself like someone with money. I never imagined buying a house. Now that he has money and can take care of his family and plan things on his own, he does what you did when he was 10.

T: When did you click?

OA: Just before releasing the first album “Ivory” in April of last year. I lived in an attic in Indiana with asbestos and black mold. My rent was $150, which I could barely afford with my income from working at the Guitar Center. I had little money to buy food, but I was uploading music to SoundCloud for free. A friend told me to add it to Spotify as well.He gave me the money to do it That day, when I uploaded the song “Ugotome”, it exploded.It was literally the only way out of that little conservative town [Apollo now lives in Los Angeles]I was making all these unrequited gay love songs.

toilet: have you been in white town? how did you get there?

OA: When my father crossed the border, he was already looking for a job as a cook in Indiana. His mother was friends with his father’s sister and they used to write to each other. And her aunt sent a picture of her mother to her brother who thought her mother was beautiful. He was like, “I have to go back and get her.”

toilet: Like an old-school Grindr for heterosexuals.

OA: That’s how I ended up in a mostly white school. There are four Mexicanos in the class I graduated from and they are all friends.

toilet: When I went to high school, it was about 5 percent black, 50 percent Mexican, and 45 percent white.

OA: Did you get into design and clothes in high school? Did you have a group of friends like Sheen?

toilet: I didn’t have a scene. I just wanted to get away from it all. And — this is crazy — right before high school, I thought, ‘I’m going to be the most popular kid in school. I went in and dated Susie, I dated Veronica, I was a homecoming king, boom, boom, boom. I did it all in high school and left as soon as it was over.

OA: how was your family? Did they know you wanted to do fashion?

toilet: At that point, I didn’t even know I wanted to do fashion. There were very few creative people where I was, so I just needed to be around other creative people. By the way, my sexuality wasn’t fully recognized until after Susie. Were you openly queer in high school?

OA: No, I didn’t even know I was gay. OK, I did, but it’s not. She remembers being in the shower when she was 17 when it hit her.

toilet: Did you come out?

OA: No, I just made music about…

toilet: I read your Wikipedia page and thought, “Oh my god, this kid is so young.” I was so lost at your age. I was very involved in the San Francisco nightclub scene. It was a beautiful time — rave culture had just landed in America from England, house music was coming from Chicago and New York, all of it arriving in San Francisco, an amazing lifestyle of music, drugs and the sexual revolution. produced. It was then that I felt free and realized that I could truly appreciate myself as a complete human being.

OA: Did it affect your nightlife?

toilet: That’s right, I started getting dressed. Jesus Christ Cyberstar was my nickname.

OA: i love to see you wearing virgin and a cross.

toilet: and Saint Francis.

OA: My queerness kept me away from religion. Today’s teaching is distinctly different and allows us to build our own relationship with God. What do you think? …I don’t know what my question is.

toilet: But I know exactly the answer to that. I was so scared of being queer. I went to San Francisco and had the best life, right? I was more comfortable there. I knew what was going on and what I was getting into, but I didn’t know there would be a lot of guilt. That’s what I do now and it’s the coolest thing in the world.

OA: Many times. I believe that the best art comes from suffering.

toilet: Which do you think is worse, a broken heart or hurting someone else’s heart?

OA: I think we should break up. I’m an empath — I feel too much for others. I don’t know, but it’s nice to sit sad. I have carried it all my life.

toilet: I honestly think part of it is being Mexican.I was recently with Raul Lopez [the fashion brand] Lure, who is Dominican, and we were talking about being part of the same Latino ethnicity but coming from different parts of the culture. While he’s out partying, I often drink tequila and cry to the moon.

T: Both of you want your work to reflect where you come from, whether it’s your sexuality, your religion, your background, or your family. But have you ever thought, “I don’t want to be that kind of guy”?

OA: I try never to think about how I am perceived. You can’t force yourself to be queer. My real-life relationships are the ones I want to take care of. Others are completely out of my control.

toilet: I like things that move the needle politically, and sometimes I intentionally do something with that kind of atmosphere. to be Political enough. Just the fact that we are brown and queer. By itself–

OA: political in nature. But sure, there are moments when you say, “Omar, paint your nails.” If I wanted to paint my nails, I would have come here with them.

toilet: It’s about creating your own vision.

OA: And it’s not just about queerness. I probably shouldn’t say this, but at one shoot, I was put in front of a truck of tacos and I was like, ‘Everyone here is white and it feels weird. They asked me to eat tacos, so I told them I was vegan.For two months. I don’t think it needs to be amplified.”

toilet: As artists and designers we have changed the way we perceive things over the years and now we are heading in a completely different direction. However, it was not intended to celebrate Latin culture.

OA: You used to say, “I think I’m the best designer because I want to be the best designer.” That’s how you should feel.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Makeup: Bone Artist Marco Castro with Marco Castro.Hair: Sergio Estrada with Bumble and Bumble

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