Graham Tyler Is a Young Designer With an Old Soul
There is fast fashion and then there is painstakingly slow, detail-oriented fashion that moves at a glacial pace, which is a way to describe Graham Tyler’s fascinating designs. Tyler, a sculptor and milliner by trade who has created hats for people like Lady Gaga and fellow designer Adam Selman, released his second collection this past New York Fashion Week. The theme was the life of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in the 1830s and ‘40s, including the letters she wrote to her husband and the fashion magazines she read. The fresh-faced 25-year-old Tyler spent ample time at the New York Public Library’s Pforzheimer Collection, where Shelley’s vast archive is held.
Tyler infused all of the tender intricacies of Shelley and her life into his Spring 2020 collection, which included plenty of nods to Victorian silhouettes, with their tightly fastened nuances. The letters between Shelley and her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, took center stage. Tyler blew up one of the letters and used it throughout the collection, embroidering it on shirts and printing it on dresses. “I picked one letter that was written on my birthday. When Shelley’s husband died, she re-transcribed all of his letters, which is horrible and mournful,” says Tyler. “I like the idea of Shelley being able to wrap herself in his words—it was a really lovely thing, and also kind of sad.” The best moment here was a light gray dress made from 360 feet of tulle that looked as if it were plucked from a sketchbook.
Tyler certainly cherishes the past, and at times it appears as if he lives there in his own way. At the presentation he was wearing his own designs: a pert white shirt, a sweater vest, and a long, pleated skirt. But Tyler is not a luddite. He understands the need for technology and how it helps him get his old-soul messaging across. He created a digital jacquard that was not woven, but printed onto fabric. On one shirt, he used a computer to open a photo of Shelley and inserted parts of the love letters into the .JPEG file code, which scrambled it and stretched out certain lines of the photo horizontally, as if it were glitched.
The designer is also dedicated to creating low-impact clothes that involve zero waste, for which he won the CFDA Elaine Gold Launch Pad prize this year. (The curtains that were displayed at the presentation will be made into dress shirts.) A fun fact: Tyler’s impeccably tailored optic white button-down shirts are wrinkle-free. Despite his historical inspiration, Tyler wants his clothes to be worn by modern people, and his dream client is very much of the now, with an active Instagram account: the actor Diane Keaton. “We both have that pilgrim aesthetic,” he says.
Originally Appeared on Vogue