Brian Escalenho doesn’t like being in the box. Since its inception, his brand, You Give Love a Bad Name, has been a way to challenge any concept. should do it In both his own life and culture. “People expect Choro’s aesthetic,” says Escareño. “Oh, he’s a Latin designer. He gives us flannel and graphic T-shirts. That’s what we expect from him.” Want to put me in this box? Well, this is this. “
The latest version of “this” is Escareño’s new collection, a collaboration between the Echo Park concept shop and the boutique Género Neutral, the exclusive retailer of the work. Called “gender neutral,” this collection is the most obvious step Escalenho has taken to broaden people’s horizons not only as a designer, but also about the fashion possibilities of 2022.
The 7-piece capsule provides fluidity through silhouette, fabric and styling options. It deliberately leaves the question of who should dress and how. Consider an asymmetrical black skirt that can be adjusted in different ways to suit your mood. Or a thin paneled turtleneck that combines soft colors that mimic the hazy rainbow found in soap bubbles. Wide-leg baby blue pants feel like both a relic of LA in the early 90’s and a precursor to LA in the future. And the see-through black button-up made from lace Mantere fabric is already an endless summer staple.
Género Neutral’s founders and co-owners Ashley SP and Jennifer Zapata are named after the duo’s way of presenting all the clothes on the floor side by side. There are no womenswear or menswear sections or labeling in the store — say this collaboration has been around for a long time. Since opening more than a year ago, Escalenho has called for forbidden love to be brought to the store, and customers are demanding the brand. Género Neutral acted as a bridge when Escareño wanted to reach new customers.
“He wanted to do something that his main customer, the male client, could see himself, but also wanted to take advantage of the female market,” says SP. “We do things genderlessly, and he really wanted to explore what it would look like. That’s where collaboration comes in.”
The other three pieces in the collection, two cotton cut-and-sew T-shirts and hats, combine aesthetics with a logo to combine forbidden love with a world of generic neutrality.
The Forbidden Love fan base is more difficult than others, probably because of the way Escalenho used his clothes as a way to talk about the Los Angeles community. “I love seeing old photos of my family on a barbecue in Venice and seeing what his uncle is wearing, because that inspires me,” he says. “My job as a designer is to enhance that.” The brand’s trucker hat has become a cult classic — a staple of Sunday Kiki sightings at art shows, fashion parties and Elysian Park.
Hustle-oriented artist Escalenho, who played football in Venice and later grew up in Inglewood, worked in a corporate office in Los Angeles after graduating from college and before breaking his wrist in a bicycle accident. As he was absent from work and healing, he came across a vintage sewing machine and learned crafting himself. It was a natural step for a very style-minded person — when he was young he worked for the sole purpose of buying sneakers — and he soon wanted to make him a more creative environment. I noticed that. He started making clothes and became a Wasteland buyer. There he wore his early designs for an audience of his colleagues and customers who wanted to know what the next dope of fashion was.
SP says his design is particularly suitable for this moment. She found that customers embraced a more fluid spirit when it came to dressing, especially in LA. “Most of the people who bought skirts were men,” says SP, since gender-neutral opened the door. In other words, clothes are clothes.
In each forbidden collection of love over the last five years, Escalenho has pushed his limits and tested. In this collection of photo essays, we work with photographer Julian Bourgenho to explore the ability to dress in a high-art castle. Here, gender neutrality is introduced along with the works of The Getty Center. Each shot taken while hitting Nate Dogg in the gallery allows models Natalia Lemper and Elyseo Equiwa to interact with the iconic works on display in the walls and halls. As rendered by Burgueño, the clothes add a new layer to the work like a collage. There is no boundary between art and style. Gender neutrality has been identified as a powerful enough force to transcend the binary.
Taken at the Getty Center with the help of Chris Burgeno. Makeup by Jessica Monzalbo; Styling by Daniel King. Video shoot by Elias Lopez, behind-the-scenes footage by Alejandr Rios.