Gabriel Held’s Making Clothes for Your 2000s TBT Dreams
If you follow Gabriel Held on Instagram, you know that he’s the king of throwback 2000s fashion. From pictures of Christina, Pink, and Mya in their Moulin Rouge get-ups, to the 2005 Versace runway looks, a peek at Held’s feed will have you missing your Juicy Couture tracksuit in no time.
But don’t worry, even if your mom cleaned out your childhood bedroom and all your precious Ed Hardy pieces are long gone, you can still get Held’s signature style without purchasing one of his vintage pieces, because Gabriel has launched his own original collection.
We talked with Gabriel about where he draws inspiration, how he became the king of throwback fashion, and where you can get his amazing collection.
So obviously all trends come back eventually, but logomania was trendy not too long ago, why do you think it’s come back so soon?
Well I have to say that the window of return on trends has gotten smaller and smaller and I think that Ashley Stone is absolutely fabulous when she said,”You get your dry cleaning back and it’s a revival.” I can say for me personally that I’m attracted to things – this is gonna sound shady – but it’s not supposed to be, that some people are still wearing un-ironically. Like things that may not have gone all the way out and back in again. Like say, an Alexander McQueen scarf, like there are still people holding on to that, and that’s when I see an opportunity for a comeback. But I don’t know why logomania came back in so quickly.
Yeah, I don’t know, I’m sure some psychologist has some serious analytical reason for us to look into the past.
I’m sure. I mean I think people always react against stuff, so I feel after logomania maybe some more underground people kinda rebelled with a very, like, not designer aesthetic. No one comes to mind off the top of my head but like, when logomania was first coming in we had people like…I don’t know, let’s say Fiona Apple and Courtney Love, who would not have been doing logomania. Know what I mean?
Yeah, I guess it’s kinda the counterculture.
Right, and then I guess it came back in after and now it’s like, kinda mixed.
Yeah it’s almost ironic, but I feel that fashion is ironic.
I don’t think people are actually necessarily proud to be flaunting Fendi or Gucci something, [it’s] more about what it represents, I guess. Where at the time it represented that you either have the money to buy or some way of getting it, it’s not so much about that anymore.
What was your inspiration behind the collection?
Well Print All Over Me is a really cool operation, basically they offer anywhere from 100 to 200 silhouettes at all times, as well as many prints that you can order them in. But the cool thing is that you can also upload your own imagery and they can make you a garment with that print.
Like, say you want pajamas with your cat, they can make that. So I reached out to them. Jesse Finkelstein, the founder, is a friend of mine and I thought that my vintage collection would be a cool place to source textiles and some silhouettes that we can do.
Then it just snowballed into an opportunity for me to do my most signature style. I mean, I hope it doesn’t take away from the vintage because part of what’s great about the vintage is that nobody else is going to have the same thing and there’s only one or a couple, but I guess that’s kind of my duty to bring it to the masses.
So you think this was the right time to launch your own collection as well?
Yeah I do. I mean, I wasn’t consciously doing this, but I guess I was probably using my Instagram as a barometer for what people are responding to right now. The principle that I really kind of accumulate my vintage collection under is the same as what I did for the line, which is basically just that I am getting the stuff now I wanted in high school, but now it’s cheap.
So like, I remember one of the silhouettes that we did was the Frankie B denim jumpsuit that J.Lo wore on the cover of the J.Lo record, and everyone wore it at the time. I’ve seen it on everyone from Mary J. Blige to Cordelia Chase on Angel. I remember shopping at this store called Atrium and they were on sale for like $30 a piece. But I was like, “That’s my whole allowance.”
I have the original Frankie B jumpsuit now and I just sold one to a queen of reality TV, which is cool. But [for the collection] we sent it to China and they copied it and then used it as a blank canvas to do some prints on.
So do you think this will be the start of you launching collections regularly or will it be a one off and you’ll see where things go?
Well from a pragmatic point of view, I guess that depends on how it does. But I have to say that creatively it’s been very satisfying, so I’d like to, or I’d even like to consult for some of the luxury lines that I carry. Like while we were shooting the look book I had like this Christian Dior rhinestone choker and I had rigged up a body chain attached to it and our make up artist on the shoot, Michael Anthony – who’s a genius– was like, “Is that actually Dior?” And I was like, “the necklace is, but I rigged the rest.” And he was like, “You should be consulting for them.”
Where can someone purchase the collection?
They can purchase it at paom.com and we might be trying to partner with some retailers, but for now that’s where you can get it. And you could order any of my prints on any of the garments that we did for my collection or any of the other Print All Over Me garments, like I got a couple of cool sports bras and stuff for the shoot, so there’s a lot of opportunities.
Of course I would say buy my garments, but there’s potential for other stuff also. There’s potential to upload your own imagery for any of my garments. So if you want that Frankie B jumpsuit in whatever [print] your heart desires, they could do that.
When selling vintage pieces, have you ever found something that you could never bear to let go of?
Yes, a couple at this point. I’m actually kinda transitioning to keeping more things in permanent collections and just doing rentals because there are things that in my wildest dreams I never imagined even existed and I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on them.
I just got from Japan this amazing Dior logo printed fur stole, I was like “I’m ready to leverage my house,” luckily I didn’t have to. And it’s not only me who’s inspired by these, I work with plenty of designers who come for what we would call “references” and there are certain things that are very popular from the collection that I’m beginning to think maybe not everyone can get these because there will be four music videos out at the same time all with this garment and I may get in trouble and a couple did come out with the same garment, but so far so good.
I mean, when I sold the Frankie B jumpsuit I was like, “Let me make sure I can replace this like, immediately before I sell it.” I was only able to find like two other ones, so it’s still pretty rare.
So how do you go about finding things? I’m sure at this point you have a big network, but what about in the beginning?
Well yeah, now I have a lot of my vintage colleagues that might know I’m looking for a certain kind of thing, and they’d let me know if they come across it.
But I started at thrift stores. There used to be this five story one across from my house and they had this by the pound section. In high school I walked in there one day and they had this wall filled with Louis Vuitton bags for like, $3.50 a piece. I grew up humbly, let’s say, but I ran back home and I was like, “Mom, I gotta get an advance on next week’s allowance, I gotta buy all these bags.”
And I would sell them back to the girls – I went to the school where they shot Gossip Girl, so that gives an indication of what kind of school it was. And that was the one way I could keep up with those girls, like finding whatever they wanted at the price that I could afford and then sell it back to them. There are a couple of Goodwills in NY that are still really good, there’s a couple of great consignment stores like INA, which was my first job actually.
I actually just got a message from someone who’s working on the new Lee Daniels show, the one with Naomi Campbell, and they wanted to know where they could buy from the Print All Over Me line, but it turns out that this person is Patricia Field’s assistant or friend or something for a long time, and I was like we must’ve met because when I was in high school.
Working there I was dealing with [Patricia Field] for Sex and the City costumes and it was a funny small world moment. Today, I would probably be a kid who’s on the internet all the time, but I was reading magazines and books and stuff like all the time. I got a real crash course in some more obscure designers working at INA. I mean really, if you have the time and the patience, you could find good stuff at a Salvation Army or a Goodwill. I’ll have to hire an intern soon to do that for me… Are you listening Galore girls? I’m hiring. I can probably pay in clothing [laughing].
If you could wear one iconic look from the 2000s for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Well I kinda do wear a head to toe Gucci print often, but I would say something like denim Louis Vuitton. Yeah, I can’t think of like, an outfit, but I’m sure there was like a jacket and the jeans that I would’ve wanted and probably would’ve gotten at St. Marks place and had some custom sneakers made with that fabric. I have a pair of Gucci converse that I had made by this guy Boris on 8th street from high school.
Who are your favorite music videos, movies, etc. to take 2000’s inspiration from?
Well I’m gonna give a little shoutout to my friend Misa Hylton who did a lot of Lil Kim’s iconic looks including the famous one from the VMAs. I didn’t know who she was then because – don’t be mad at me Misa – I was in the 5th grade.
I saw the video for “Crush on You” by Lil Kim that had the matching wigs with the matching colored furs and like all monochromatic outfits. And it only dawned on me recently that that still inspires me a lot. When in doubt, do a monochromatic, it’s pleasing to the eye.
I would say “No Matter What They Say” by Little Kim has given a lot of inspiration. Honestly Clueless was huge to me as it probably was to everybody who liked fashion and is my age. That was huge.
I still look to The Nanny and Absolutely Fabulous and I actually have some garments that both Amy and Fran wore, a lot of Moschino and Lacroix. Not the exact ones as far as I know, but the same pieces. That’s a little thing I love in collecting too. If I can get a piece from an iconic moment or a TV show or something, I’ll take it. Of course Sex and The City also.
Honestly also The Fashion Book that’s like 500 pages long, somebody gave it to me in middle school and I’ve gone back to that book. It’s just an encyclopedia of fashion. I was really into 60s type of fashion. I was once like, maybe in first grade — I was walking with my mom in Manhattan and I saw this woman in a full-length crimson red Mongolian lamb shaggy fur coat. And I said, “Mom, dress me in the styles of the 90s.” And she said, “That’s actually more 60s, Gabriel.” But we did go and buy me some very 90s outfits.
You’re also a great cook as anyone on Instagram knows, do you have any other secret talents?
I’m learning, I’m trying to teach myself some stuff. I was a dancer for like, five years in high school. But I don’t know if I could dust the cobwebs off at this point. You see sometimes on Instagram that I make stuff, like garments or accessories, but I don’t know if that’s secret. Oh here’s a decent one, I went to art school. I have a Bachelor of fine arts. Collage was my medium there and styling feels the same to me, just in a different medium. Instead of using photographic imagery I’m using garments that are different shapes, colors, and textures, and it’s just a collage to me.