Originally from Colorado, Neil Grotzinger began working for a number of high-end womenswear labels in New York after his BA at the Pratt Institute. He specialised in hand bead work and embellishments, and soon started applying those techniques to his own, private wardrobe. Intrigued by the result, it incited him to pursue the MFA at Parsons. “I was getting so much satisfaction from taking the skills that I was using in my job, and applying them to clothes for myself. I was creating what I wanted but didn’t have access to. Now there’s a personal element to my work.” He intends to create a market for alternative couture menswear, and if all goes to plan, he’ll be showing his collection at the next fashion week in New York.
His graduate collection played with the iconic pieces traditionally found in menswear, and adding a decorative element to it – to break its functional restrictions. “It’s about breaking the masculine façade. There’s these ideas associated with functionality, certain expectations, that didn’t even exist in the first place. It breaks the restrictions of menswear.” A simple t-shirt, for example, was subverted by beading along the lines that define the piece. Athletic sportwear was another important element in his work. “I found it interesting to create something that maybe has been used for athletics, but made out of lace so you could never actually do those movements in those clothes.” His work critiques the stereotypes associated with masculinity by bringing something beautiful and effeminate. “It was tricky to combine all these different icons in a coherent way. In the end it became this collage of personas, which I really liked.”