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Men's Fall Fashion Issue | Metropolis / Designing Men

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Jared Gold Gives Fashion That Creepy Feeling

September 08, 2002|LAURIE PIKE

Many designers are culture vultures, gleaning the Zeitgeist from headlines, art shows and the buzz among the glitterati. Jared Gold is not such a designer. There's a reverence for the wrong and the sinister at Gold's studio, in an early 1900s building just a spat's throw from the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division. Here, Gold has staged fashion shows accessorized with live Madagascar cockroaches and accompanied by toy piano music--played by the designer himself.

"I don't ever read fashion magazines," says the 30-year-old Gold, who grew up Mormon and doesn't smoke or drink. "My line is cloistered, insulated from what other people are doing." He started selling his eponymous collection of whimsical "Victorian-punk" women's wear to Fred Segal while employed there in 1996, adding menswear two years ago to both his couture line and his less-expensive diffusion line, Black Chandelier.

What made Gold start a men's line? "I needed something to wear." Gold's menswear affirms his love of the off-kilter detail, the anachronistic fillip: printed vests, fitted waists and sleeves and his ubiquitous chandelier silk-screen motif. As recent influences, Gold cites books on the Belle Epoque and tomes on unusual animals as well as National Geographic magazines and theories concerning extraterrestrials and their influence on fashion. How that translates to garments such as a fluorescent pink blazer (for the couture line) or a black sweatshirt with an oversized Edwardian collar and pink pom-poms appliqued in the shape of a heart (for Black Chandelier) is anyone's guess. "My angle is to use a traditional shape and add this bizarre feminine flair to it. It comes across looking kind of wrong, and I love that."

Gold may be living in his own little bubble but that world may be about to expand: He says he has recently secured financial backing that will free him to concentrate on designing and expanding his lines without having to oversee production details. While Gold's work has taken off in Japan and his women's wear has done well in bellwether stores stateside, the men's line has appeared only in a few edgier venues such as Aero & Co. in Los Angeles and Rolo in San Francisco. For now, Gold is cultivating the art of walking that tightrope between the mainstream and the far side. "It's difficult being innovative. I have to be careful about how colorful I can be and the shapes I use. It's a really complicated problem, super tricky."

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