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Bror August AW16 New York Harry Potter
Backstage at Bror August AW16Photography Thomas McCarty

Bror August gets inspired by never having had a boyfriend

Fresh out of high school, Norweigan designer August Vestbo made his NYFW debut with a collection inspired by his own teenage obsession with falling in love

New York’s underground designer scene often feels more like one big, extended family than anything resembling the fashion industry. This season’s breakout designers are often last season’s interns, encouraged by their friends at the labels they’re working at to strike out on their own. For August Vestbo of Bror August, who made its NYFW debut on Wednesday, it was no different. “I started interning for Vaquera, and then for Telfar and then for Eckhaus, and then in between that I’d work on my collections, so at nights and weekends and stuff,” the still-teenage designer recalled the day after his show. “When I worked at Vaquera, (designer Patric DiCaprio) was one of the first people to encourage me to put together a show myself, and when I worked at Eckhaus they gave me days off to work on my own collection – it’s a very good community, not competitive at all.”

“When I worked at Eckhaus they gave me days off to work on my own collection – it’s a very good community” – August Vestbo

Vestbo (who moved to NYC from Oslo in September) dubbed his AW16 collection “Never Had a Boyfriend Jeans”. The reference was a literal one. “It’s simply about how I’ve never had a boyfriend,” he said. “And about how people have a ‘thing’ when they’re young that they try and define themselves by, and it’s a substitute for not having a real personality. My thing was being very obsessed with trying to find a boyfriend.” The theme of the collection might sound abstract, but it came together in a way that made sense. Models (who walked around an art installation by Dawn Kasper) started out more fully dressed, dropping layers and revealing details as the show progressed. The final look was almost completely sheer – symbolic of the way you reveal more of yourself to a new partner. 

Some donned see-through bodysuits embroidered with Hogwarts houses – a reference to one of Vestbo’s “biggest guilty pleasures”, Harry Potter. “The idea behind those was when you have to admit one of your guilty pleasures as an example of things you keep hidden to portray yourself in the most perfect way,” explained the designer. Others had hoodies tucked behind ears, a trait he found endearing in boys at school. Importantly, and in-keeping with other designers he shares a scene with, models were a street-cast group of friends rather than professionals. “Instead of making the clothing look as long and lean as possible, I’d rather have models that add character,” he said. “It creates who you can imagine wearing it – that makes sense.”