Sex sells. An old fash-un trope that Spanish designer Luis De Javier is proudly wearing on his sleeve. Daring leather. Mythical horns. Skin. Skin. Skiiiiiin. It’s a little bit tacky, too, which is just the way he likes it. Earlier this year he made his London Fashion Week debut with a show titled El Invitado (meaning a guest invited to celebrate).
Having previously worked under Vivienne Westwood and Gareth Pugh, his AW20 collection showcased clear influence from his ex-bosses tutelage. Models marched down a red-carpeted runway before a front row packed with club kids and drag queens, and the looks were skin-baring, sculpted, and worn with sex-positive pride – g‑strings and all.
De Javier grew up in a small coastal town around 40 minutes away from Barcelona. He calls it “the gay town of Spain”, and it’s where he first came into contact with the world he is so involved in now. The sun was shining, the parties were rife, tanned bums were on show. Meanwhile, little Luis was sitting at home watching what he calls the Spanish version of MTV, gawping at early-2000s R&B and reggaeton music videos.
“I’ve always been creative, ever since I was a little kid,” he says. “I’d sit and watch these music videos with all the women in mini skirts and all that. Everything was so daring, and I loved that from the age of six-years-old. It started then!”
Growing up in a conservative household meant he had to put his interests to one side until he moved to Barcelona aged 19, to study fashion design at IED. It was here he developed his design skills, moving concepts from 2D to 3D. Even at that point, the designer admits he still had a lot to learn to get to where he is now.
“It was quite tough because a lot of people in my class had been designing since they were [young],” he explains. “They had been doing courses in sewing, or their parents were designers or artists.” De Javier struggled to make his mark up until his final year, when he was living with his grandmother close to the university campus due to struggling with paying rent.
It was an unlikely turn of events, while living with his grandma, that saw him leap from so-so student to Proper Designer. He dived headfirst into Barcelona’s underground techno scene where he found an accepting circle of people ready to welcome him with sweaty arms. Before long he was leaving the house in miniskirts and make-up – which he admits confused, and worried, his grandmother.
“It was the point where I realised I don’t have to follow the rules society has told me up until [now],” he says. “I met all these amazing people that interested me, and everything was so daring and inspiring.”
Everything came together for De Javier in his final year. He met the people, he knew how to design, and he felt good. Quickly after graduating, the designer moved to London and immersed himself in east London’s queer club nights, meeting the people he now calls his close circle of friends, inspired by how they “don’t follow guidelines”.
De Javier’s designs aren’t for the faint of heart – but fashion never was about being shy. He explains that his goal is to create “moments”, never wanting to make clothes for the sake of making clothes. It’s about a bulging package – crazy visuals, thumping music, models enjoying themselves. But the designer is quick to point out that while he’s having fun, his clothes are as much about a social and political message as they are about sex.
His show in February was as diverse as the club nights he regularly attended pre-Covid – an important statement for Luis De Javier, the brand. His clothes are about embracing the alternative, rather than replicating the normal. When he started out, De Javier says his ideal customer was a “really cunty man that didn’t give a fuck” – a statement on masculinity being about wearing whatever you wanted. These days, it’s not so far removed.
“It’s about breaking boundaries,” he says. “My clothes are for anyone that wants to be daring and doesn’t care about anything, or anyone!”