Fashion / Chromat / Becca McCharen
photographs / Alex Vanderheyden
Style Editor / Cristina Leiva
Hair /Kimberly Garduno
Make-up / Mayela Vazquez
story/ Koko Ntuen + Cristina Leiva
Chromat is the brainchild of Becca McCharen , a fashion designer trained in architecture. She lives up to the true sense of the craft lending her skills to the planning, designing, and overseeing the construction of her garments. We went to the Navy Yard Studios where Becca studio is based and witnessed, first hand, the crafting and construction of her futurist, fembot, goth, lifestyle line. Becca describes Chromat as “structural experiments for the human body” and if you put on a Chromat piece you will understand why. The line is sought after and worn on stage by many dynamic performers including Beyonce, Madonna and Grimes.
Becca also talked us about her muses, her goals, her dreams come true and her gorgeous swimsuit collection.
Where are you from originally?
What made you switch from architecture to fashion?
I started sewing in college. While I was studying architecture at the University of Virginia, I took a costume design class and was then hired as a seamstress in the costume shop. After graduation, I worked as an architect for several years before embarking on my own fashion projects. I love the timeline of fashion vs. architecture. It’s the same process and focus on material investigations, but in fashion the built gratification is instant.
What inspired you in the fashion industry?
I love McQueen, Gaultier, Comme des Garcons. The weirder the better.
How, when and why did you start your company?
Chromat started as an after-work project in Virginia in 2008. It became my full time job based in NYC in 2010.
What inspired the name for Chromat?
I’m obsessed with organizing things in monochrome.
What was one moment you had where you felt, “Wow, we made it!”
Working with Beyonce on the Superbowl costumes this spring was amazing. Seeing her dancers on stage wearing our harnesses, it was surreal! I was shrieking and taking bad iphone pix of the TV.
It’s easy to tell that you have some knowledge about fashion history since your designs use structures that were employed centuries ago. How did you get it? Do you collect old pieces?
Working as a costumer for the UVA Drama Department definitely helped me understand the intricacies of historical undergarments. They have an incredible vault of historical pieces that we were only allowed to touch with gloves on in a special climate controlled room
How was it like translating all the Chromat theory to a swimsuit collection?
Chromat swim was a natural progression from the lingerie and cage pieces we started developing early on. With the swim, we have applied our structural foundations and emphasis on strength and body contours to aquatic environments.
Do you have a muse?
Hmmm…Each season is inspired by different concepts and theoretical pursuits. For the season we are developing now, SS14, one person I am definitely inspired by is Christine Tran and her background as a professional athlete.
What is your favorite item in your closet?
My Chromat Underwire Bralette of course!
What is one thing you wear every day?
Ponytail holders to rope in my tangly braids.
Who is a fashion icon to you?
Is there any personality you’d like to see wearing one of your designs? Which design?
Bjork again! I would love to develop custom pieces for her. I love that each album she develops is completely different than the one before. I hope our collections with Chromat continue to evolve at such an innovative pace.
Where can we get your swimsuit collection?
This season’s swim is available in the Chromat Webshop, at International Playground and Swords Smith in NYC, Mise En Cage in Paris, Joy Hysteric in Australia, Saturday Guy in Taiwan and online at Nastygal and Bona Drag!
What can we expect from Chromat next?
The possibilities are endless! We’re experimenting with some new materials for the next collection debuting in September at New York Fashion Week. Beyond that, maybe some architectural collaborations, weird fashion films and crazy parties.
copy editor / Eva Rosner