Unless you’ve spent the last few months chilling under a rock, you probably already know that Kanye West has recently launched an incubator program for young designers. We met with the very first program protégé to talk about her debut collection. Not only is it promising, but also somewhat nostalgic, with a hefty dose of futurism.

Critics seem to agree: Maisie Wilen’s first season is a powerful statement collection. We found it both nostalgic and futuristic, and when we met the designer at Le Meurice for Paris Fashion Week, we asked her a few questions. The mind behind the first Yeezy-backed fashion label — and one of the most exciting young designers showing in Paris for this Men’s SS20 Fashion Week told us a bit more about who she is and what she stands for.

Kanye West (center) and Maisie Schloss (right), in Los Angeles for the collection debut on June 5th 2019 -- Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WWD/Shutterstock
Kanye West (center) and Maisie Schloss, in Los Angeles for the collection debut on June 5th 2019 — Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WWD/Shutterstock
Futurism and Nostalgia

Schloss was a designer for YEEZY, when the hip hop and fashion mogul first told her about the program. “I was working as a women’s wear designer at YEEZY when Kanye approached me with an offer to back me in a new venture”, Schloss tells us. That’s also when the label became Maisie Wilen: ”[Wilen] is my mom’s last name”. The collection lands somewhere between animalism, futurism and 1980s nostalgia. Bestial prints and innovative fabrics are the stars of the line. They both aim to embody the modern woman. “The Maisie Wilen woman is creative and confident with unconventional taste”, the young designer explains. In her mind, Schloss has no doubts for her existence. “She is fashion-conscious yet idiosyncratic, sexy and playful with her style”, she adds, underlining the effort brought by her designs to stay away from the old ways from the fashion elite. For this first delivery, just like Balenciaga, Chanel and other giants in the industry — and smaller designers before her — Maisie Wilen is cruelty-free. Animals remain a source of inspiration as opposed to raw material.

Kim Kardashian wearing Maisie Wilen SS20 / Getty Images
Kim Kardashian wearing Maisie Wilen SS20 / Getty Images

Noticing the effort brought to sourcing materials, we even asked the Parsons alum what her cursor was pointed on: fabrics and materials, or silhouette. “the two need to harmonize in order to make a nice garment” the Illinois native replies, before qualifying: “That said, before sketching, I always need fabric and swatches in front of me”.

Chicago as a nucleus

By the way, the bossman not only backs her up with actions, but in a recent email interview, Ye stated: “Maisie has always had a strong perspective, and we’re truly pleased with her first collection”. 

West has set the tone for a new generation of artists, designers and creatives that truly encapsulate today’s culture blend with high efficiency. The Windy City has given birth, in recent years to a whole new avant-garde movement, from Michael Jordan to Virgil Abloh. Whether in fashion, art, music, or sports, the main popular section in today’s cultural real estate can be linked back to the cold city in Illinois.

But the way Schloss sees it:  things can be explained in a simple manner. Clothing and art have time to live, in Chi-town. “Fashion in Chicago has a great balance where lot of great resources are available but the city isn’t oversaturated with fashion”, she notes, before adding: “a bit of distance helps for a fresh perspective.

Tawfik Akachar
Senior Writer, Paris
Tawfik is a pop culture enthusiast that has a soft spot for the study of emerging movements, casual chic fashion, and technical clothing. Although he loves different foods from all parts of the globe, he considers fried chicken to be the best dish, ever.