For his teenage self, Joseph Altuzarra made this dress. Joseph Altuzarra, like many New Yorkers during the city’s lockdown of 2020, found that being at home for so long made him think a lot. Before March of that year, though, his life had changed a lot. He and his husband, the real estate investor Seth Weissman, had their first child, Emma, at the end of 2019.
One of the things Altuzarra, 38, thought about a lot while taking care of a new baby was gender. His job as an award-winning designer of women’s clothes, which he started in 2008 after studying at Swarthmore College and working at Proenza Schouler and Givenchy, was partly based on him understanding at least one type of woman. But after having a daughter, he became more aware of “the pervasive nature of the gender binary in our culture, and the ways in which we’re limited by stereotypical norms.” He noticed, for example, that people often talked about Emma in terms of how she looked, whereas baby boys were talked about in terms of how they behaved. When he went shopping for Emma, he found that there were always two racks, one with pink and flowery clothes and the other with a lot of flannel. “Even if there were puzzles, there would be unicorn ones and ones with cars,” says the man.
From there, he tried to figure out how he, too, had come to believe these things. He looked back on his own adolescence in Paris, where he felt pressure to dress and act a certain way. That I would never cry or show any emotion, he says. “It built up a lot of shame that I’ve had to slowly dismantle over the course of my life.” This dismantling continued while he was away from the office and out of the public eye. He tried out skirts and dresses, as well as skin tint and blushes, while he was away from the office. This is what the designer said: “What quarantine did for me was take away a lot of my fear and inhibitions.” A few months into the project, he came up with the idea for Altu, a new line.
Designers often start diffusion lines that are just cheaper versions of their main line. Altu, on the other hand, is a real change of pace when it comes to Altuzarra. The brightly coloured pencil skirts and beaded dresses, the patterned pleats, and the handkerchief hems are all gone now. Instead, it has everyday items like hoodies, body-skimming dresses, tees, and trousers that are meant to be genderless, though Altuzarra prefers to use the term “genderful,” which he has worn for years. As he says, “We wanted to think of gender as something that was positive and optimistic, and not something that was negative.” He adds that “Altuzarra has always been an alter ego.” It’s a woman who is very confident, sexy, and doesn’t care if people think bad of her. She was the person Joseph wished he could be when he was younger.
As it turns out, he says, “Adolescence was not a very happy time for me, and I didn’t want to run away from that. I wanted to re-engage with it and make something beautiful and productive out of it.” On the Altu website, the models look unhappy while slouching in their suburban bedrooms and on the streets, but there is also a sense of self-assurance. People get very emotional when I ask Joseph Altuzarra what he would say to his 15-year-old self when I do this. His words: “I felt so different and alone.” If I were a teenager, I would tell myself that I’m going to be OK and find my people.
Altu, on the other hand, blends parts of Altuzarra’s teenage self with parts of who he might have been had he come of age in 2021. New clothes like low-slung pants, slinky tanks, and crop tops are a way to show off your body. He wore an Altu dress to the Met Gala in September that had big cutouts at the waist. He told Vogue, “I just wanted to be hot.” On Instagram, a lot of people agreed that he had done just that, too. The dress was also one of the few looks at the event that could be worn in real life. It was a breath of fresh air in the midst of so many fantasy gowns.
The 35 other pieces in the first collection also have a lot of versatility. To make his pendant necklace more noticeable, Joseph Altuzarra likes to slip it through the slit in both the cotton shirt and the wool sweater. This is because Joseph Altuzarra likes to slip the necklace through the hole to make it more noticeable. This hoodie is made of matcha green cotton and looks like it has four sleeves. Two of them are tied at the shoulders to make it look like you’re layering without the bulk. It also has a nylon lining inside that can be pulled out to make it into a backpack. Items like this one are also easy to get, because they come in many different sizes. Most of them come in sizes from 0 to 5, and the pants go from 0 to 7.
Joseph Altuzarra other babies, on the other hand, have to be the leather pants, which come in two different styles. One has a wide leg, and the other is more tapered. A factory has made versions for him for the last 10 years, and he wears them almost every day. It doesn’t mean that Altuzarra doesn’t want to keep putting a lot of emphasis on trying new things. Altu isn’t really about uniform dressing. During the next release, you can expect to see pastels