devon halfnight leflufy is menswear’s next youth oracle
Whether it's Raf Simons channelling post punk schoolboys or Walter Van Beirendonck tapping new wave radical rave vibes, Belgian designers have proven themselves fashion's best documenters of youth culture's most exciting and unexpected facets. Opening Ceremony realized this back in 2013 and hit the streets of Antwerp to source some of the city's most dynamic emerging design talent. One such gem was Devon Halfnight Leflufy, the Royal Academy grad whose master's collection, True Believers, was a trippy tribute to all things LA. Devon's hand-knitted Lakers jerseys and Selena and Justin-themed tanks made our tweenage dreams come true and set his star squarely on the rise.
Two years on, the Vancouver-born designer is only getting better. Following a killer presentation at Milk Studios this past season, his knockout fall/winter 15 collection, Truth Search, landed him on the LVMH Prize shortlist alongside Craig Green, Jacquemus, and Marques'Almeida. We caught up with menswear's next youth oracle to talk skating, Mick Jagger, and how he got that epic name.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Vancouver and both my parents are architects. I was an extremely active kid and as a teenager I think I would have fallen under the category of a 'misled youth.' I lived for skateboarding and hip-hop. It was also the last days of rave culture in Vancouver, so there was a special magic in the air at that time.
How did you get started designing?
For me, it all started from my roots in skating and music. Both of these have such an intimate and omnipresent relationship to clothes, so the transition into designing was quite natural.
What was the first piece you ever designed?
Even before I went to design school, I remember making a hand painted t-shirt for a local shop in Vancouver. I guess that is where my story began.
How did you end up at the Royal Academy and what were some of the most valuable things you learned there?
I chose to study in Antwerp at the Royal Academy because their approach to fashion was overtly conceptual. Perhaps also because Antwerp seemed like the polar opposite of the technical school where I studied in Montreal. I felt the need to explore other parts of fashion and I learned to push myself further than I even thought possible. The school is about how you relate to the world and finding a way to apply that to fashion.
How have the different places you've lived and worked shaped you?
The company has become quite international. We do our sales campaign in Paris, our presentations in NYC, our collaborators live all over the world, and that is the way I like it. Even though I have moved around quite a lot in my life, I do not feel there is one city that has specifically shaped my work. Instead, all of these places have instilled in me a need to push forward. I always try to surprise myself and the people who follow my work.
Tell us about your most recent collection.
Truth Search is an exercise in the re-contextualizing of 'era symbols' into a mirror world wardrobe. We called it 'rave tailoring' in the studio. I wanted to take era symbols like corduroy or velvet and re-connect them with other signifiers until they started to feel uncannily familiar but at the same time completely foreign. The graphics are built up in a similar way and I think there is a harmony in that.
Obviously, your name is awesome. Is there a story behind it?
Glad you like it. It is just my given name. Halfnight is my mother's maiden name and LeFlufy is from my Father.
How do you get inspired and what inspires you?
I am very hungry to discover and see new things; I am constantly searching. My inspiration always comes from a diverse and often unconnected series of unrelated topics. I enjoy drawing connections where one might not expect them.
If you could rob anyone's closet--living, dead, fictional--who would it be and why?
Maybe Mick Jagger from the 70s. He was such a show pony. Those outfits are so full of life.
As a young designer based in Belgium, how do you see design and youth culture colliding today?
I think youth culture will always have a strong connection to design. Most aesthetic development stems from varying subcultures, so if one is looking towards the future, it's often as reference to something they knew or felt. In my way, I like to mix those feelings. For example in fall/winter 15, I tried to create a feeling of nostalgia and desire.
What's the most exciting thing about being young in 2015?
The internet, of course.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Rachel Chandler
Lookbook images Quentin De Wispelaere
Images courtesy Kaleidoscope PR