Meet the creative genius behind the craziest fashion in Lil Nas X and L
At the 2020 VMAs, Doja Cat was looking for a very particular aesthetic. She wanted to look like an alien fish goddess. To turn her vision into reality, she enlisted the help of Asher Levine, a designer who made a name for himself creating high-tech and futuristic clothing.
At 33, Levine has already created a number of iconic outfits, including the cyborg look Lady Gaga wore during her “Enigma” residency in 2018, Nicki Minaj’s bionic Barbie look on her 2019 world tour and the luminescent bodysuit. that Lil Nas X wears in her recently released “Call Me By Your Name” music video. But while he’s best known for his eye-catching and celebrity-impacting pieces, Levine is also exploring how to incorporate technology into clothing to make it more beautiful and functional. Eventually, he hopes some of these ideas will find their way into everyday clothing.
The only boy in sewing class
Levine grew up in Port Charlotte, Florida. Her father was a musician and her mother a dancer, but they each worked the day to pay the bills. As a child, Levine loved to do things, an interest his mother cultivated by enrolling him in various classes.
When he was 10, he took a sewing course and discovered that he was good at hand and machine sewing. Levine was particularly interested in the use of metallic and silky fabrics difficult to sew but giving unique looks. The teacher invited her to join a local tailoring club where the team created outfits that she presented in a contest called “Fashion by Floridians”, which took place at the county level, the region and state. âIt was like a mini project track,â Levine recalls. “Except it would be judged by older ladies from the local sewing or quilting chapter, who would judge your choice of fabric during construction.”
It was clear from the start that Levine stood out. On the one hand, he was the only boy in his town to participate in the sewing club. He would take the stage in the final, wearing edgy outfits he created for himself, like army-inspired shorts and vests. âIt was in Florida 22 years ago,â he says. âI was completely bullied at school because I was part of this sewing club. But I also had parents who told me to ignore bullies and keep pursuing my passion. “
It was good advice. Thanks in part to his presidency of his local sewing club, Levine made a full tour of Pace University in New York City to study business. Throughout college, he spent days in the Garment District, shopping for fabrics for extravagant, edgy outfits to wear in a nightclub. He also accepted a position as a personal stylist at high-end company Visual Therapy, which allowed him to spend time at Bergdorf Goodman, choosing pieces from Rick Owens, Celine and other top designers. âIt was really an education in good taste, and what good clothes really look like inside and out,â he says.
When Lady Gaga and Will.i.am call
In 2010, upon graduating from university, Levine launched his first collection: a line of men’s clothing with an androgynous and experimental aesthetic, specializing in leather and exotic animal skins. Her looks were picked up by fashion blogs which led to a big break from the start.
That same year, he got a call from Lady Gaga’s assistant, telling her that she was going to be photographed by Terry Richardson for a new book and that she was looking for an unconventional leather jacket. So he set to work to create an oversized version. âIt was right when Poker Face came out, and they weren’t on a big budget,â Levine says. âBut I knew this opportunity was too good to pass up. The broadcast came out, and it was very successful, so I really owe a lot of my early successes to Lady Gaga’s willingness to support young talent.
The calls kept coming in, and over time Levine was able to charge thousands of dollars for his custom pieces, the same price you might expect to pay at Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The next big break came when will.i.am needed an outfit for a performance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. He had a precise vision: he wanted a jacket in a crisp Day-Glo blue, but to the era, no fabrics. captured the color. His team reached out to Levine, who ended up taking the Day-Glo pigment powder and hanging it in silicone, which he used to create a silicone textile. He then used this material to create an iconic red, white and blue jacket for the event.
The future of fashion
All of this exposure helped put Levine on the map, allowing him to grow his business. He creates seasonal collections for fashion week, then makes bespoke couture pieces for clients. Today, it has a team of three full-time employees and twelve part-time employees. Most of his pieces aren’t as flashy as the outfits he makes for rock stars, but they still carry his distinct aesthetic, which involves layering fabrics and creating intricate textures. He now has a clientele that ranges from BeyoncÃ© to Beth Comstock, GE’s former CMO.
Levine says he’s inspired by things he sees in the natural world, like animal skins and leaf or tree designs, but he incorporates them into outfits that end up looking like they are. ‘another world. Take a white jacket he created for the recent “Is Fashion Modern?” Exhibition. at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Inspired by a traditional motorcycle jacket, the piece is designed for a woman’s body, with high shoulders and a slim waist. The white fabric is covered with small bumps, reminiscent of the pattern made when butterflies lay eggs. Other parts of the jacket feature the geometric shapes you might find on butterfly wings.
But then, as if by magic, the jacket lights up, illuminating the intricate patterns on the surface. Levine says the lights are designed to look diffused, as if emanating from the person wearing them rather than obvious LED lights. And they also have a function: the arms light up depending on whether the driver is turning left or right, and the whole jacket glows red when the driver has stopped. For now, pieces like this are very conceptual, but it might not be long before they make their way into everyday wear. Levine says he attended a flexible electronics show in California, where a government team wanted to learn more about his MoMA jacket because they were considering incorporating lights into the uniforms of aircraft pilots. fighter and air traffic controllers.
Levine is now experimenting with integrating technology into every part of the design process, from virtual use of AI and prototyping outfits to adding lights to clothing and developing entirely new materials. He patented a leather mold that allows him to create 3D leather shapes. This means that he could create a bag simply by shaping the leather into a particular design, creating a unique, seamless shape. âI’m not interested in technology for the sake of technology,â says Levine. âI’m interested in how technology can help improve the design process and improve the experience of wearing my outfit. “
Ultimately, he hopes the spectacular outfits he creates for musicians will help communicate his larger message that fashion can be more than just beautiful and inspiring; it can transform our perception of what clothes can do. âI’m so grateful for the opportunity to create iconic pieces, like Doja Cat’s, because it’s something audiences can connect with,â he says. âChildren, above all, resonate with these clothes that light up. And I see this job almost as an educational experience, helping these kids understand my vision for the future of clothing. Because in the end, these children are my future clients; these are the future bodies that I am going to dress.