Fashion’s new duo Meet the A-list international label Monse
The label seems to have come out of nowhere, but Monse has made instant fans out of everyone from Jessica Biel to Selena Gomez.
When industry insiders at New York Fashion Week last September spotted the new label Monse (pronounced “mon-say”), the collective reaction was “Mon who?” The line and its designers, Laura Kim, 33 and Fernando Garcia, 29, were relatively unknown, and yet their clothes were being worn by major celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker and Amal Clooney before the collection had even hit the runway. And, in the hypercompetitive world of fashion, there’s no such thing as beginner’s luck.
But then, Laura and Fernando are no beginners. They spent a collective 18 years at Oscar de la Renta (Laura as design director, and Fernando overseeing evening wear and VIP dressing) before going out on their own. And when they left, they did so with the designer’s blessing and an A-list roster of celebrity stylist and clientele, too.
When you look at Monse’s debut collection, it’s not hard to spot de la Renta’s influence. The elegance reflects the late designer’s iconic style, but with a laidback attitude. “We wanted to make sure the girl wearing our clothes always looks relaxed,” says Fernando. “As Oscar taught us, sometimes the easiest or simplest idea is the best one.”
Which is why they chose the most basic staple of all – a classic buttondown shirt – as the starting point for their collection. “We began with a shirt because it’s something everyone relates to,” explains Fernando. “We wanted to put our own spin on it.”
The result: inventive takes on the shirt, from strapless dresses à la the black number Selena Gomez is rocking below, to trousers with faux shirtsleeves knotted at the wrist as a belt. “In a season when the reworked shirt is such a trend, Fernando and Laura owned it,” says Sarah Rutson of online store Net-a-porter.
And while their designs have already been worn by a who’s who of Hollywood style setters, Laura and Fernando know that the red carpet can’t keep a fashion business afloat: “We believe in today’s modern working woman,” says Fernando. “And creative people, too.” Like artist Tali Lennox, actually: “Fernando had seen my work on Instagram and reached out to me,” Tali recalls. “We decided to do a ‘dress swap’. He was like, ‘How about you paint us, and we’ll give you dresses?’ And I said, ‘Great!’ Their clothes are done up, but in a nonchalant way. They make me feel like myself.”
So how would Laura and Fernando describe themselves? We asked, and they answered in unison. Find their replies on the opposite page.