Miss Popular: Gerlan Marcel

She is also not alone in this aim. Before moving to New York and launching Gerlan Jeans in 2009, Marcel worked designing prints and graphics for fashion’s current l’enfant terrible, Jeremy Scott. Over the past few years, Scott, whose foray into the fashion world was inauspiciously pooh-poohed by Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley, has gained remarkable footing, thanks in part, to his Jeremy Scott for Adidas Originals label, high-profile pop endorsements, and the public’s growing interest in humor, hyperbole and caricature in popular fashion—a stepping out from the dark shadow of the understated chic “downtown” goth style championed by Rick Owens and Alexander Wang, runway designers with rampant market appeal. Marcel had a hand in designing five collections worth of signature prints for Scott—bold French-fry patterns, camo/combat Care Bears, a hundred dollar bill in Scott’s own image—and also enjoys quieter but important endorsement from artists like Beyoncé, the K-pop supergroup 2NE1 and Lil Wayne (one of the few who actually paid for a large, direct order of Gerlan Jeans pieces, though Marcel also says that sales of the T-shirt version of Beyoncé’s “Video Phone” dress practically cover her monthly rent). It’s easy to see the creative push and pull of influence in Jeremy Scott and Gerlan Jeans collections, from their witty typographic appropriations, to gender-bending silhouettes and pop culture and sportswear influences. Curiously, all of the six collections that Marcel worked on for Scott are absent from the Style.com runway archive—a bleak, seven-year gap between 2003-2010, in which none of his shows were listed or reviewed—a sign that fashion’s favor has been capricious at best, and loathsome at worst.

The designer Patricia Field, whose eponymous boutique has been a New York mainstay since the ’70s, has always been a champion of this brand of bombastic, colorful dressing. She carries Gerlan Jeans and, at times, even employs Marcel to design prints for her own label. Despite her cult following (so large in Asia, in fact, that she runs a Japanese version of her blog), Field is really best known for her styling for Sex and the City, and she jokes that many people come to her store expecting to find those clothes only to be overwhelmed by racks of Carrie Bradshaw’s most outrageous looks times three. But Field also runs a business with a bottom line, so she’s as attuned to market drivers as she is to her own personal taste. “Right now, in my store, it’s very ’90s and flashy and sexy. There seems to be, in the past couple of years, a sort of an increase in that consciousness. It’s more fun and less serious, but it comes and goes. Jeremy’s [designs are] comical—certain things you can buy and really use, [and other] things are much more special and more expressive of an idea than they are practical.” Herein lies the greatest divide between Jeremy Scott and Gerlan Jeans collections; whereas Scott goes for shock and camp that’s beyond the wearability of an average person (i.e. not Katy Perry), Marcel wants her Gerlan Jeans to live on any body, in any context.

As she describes it, Marcel spent a good portion of her early twenties as a “professional student/Dead Head,” itinerantly attending schools like Hampshire College, a short-term art program in Paros, Greece, as well as a stint at Oregon College of Art & Craft before attending fashion school at Central Saint Martins in London. “When I was at Hampshire, I was still on the Grateful Dead tour. We were going to shows in California and then driving back and going to class on Monday, if we made it. But after Jerry Garcia died, I didn’t really know what I was doing.” It wasn’t until she was 25 that her long strange trip culminated in the Print for Fashion course taught by Natalie Gibson at Saint Martins, where she really learned to hand draw and develop a creative concept from an organic place. But even as she continues to hone her craft and create her own, rich worlds, it seems, at heart, Marcel has never lost that same wide-eyed spirit of being a super fan—a tireless champion of her scene. In all of Gerlan Jeans clothes there’s a touch of that posi, psychedelic hippy vibe tempered by a trained, sophisticated eye. She’s deeply influenced by the style of her musical world, which surrounds Fade to Mind labelmates Kingdom and Nguzunguzu, as well as Fatima Al Qadiri and Venus X. While this loosely-affiliated group of electronic producers couldn’t be more sonically different than the rambling jams of the Dead, they have attracted similarly fervent fans.

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POSTED February 29, 2012 7:00PM IN FEATURES, STYLE, STYLE NEWS Comments (2) TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,