The Friday before the Met Gala (and the opening of its accompanying museum exhibition), I met the designer and impresario Tremaine Emory for tea. The theme of this year’s exhibition is In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, and Emory, who designs T-shirts, sweaters, and sneakers under the name Denim Tears, had recently found out his work would be featured in the show. He began musing about the meaning of American fashion—the way that it is rarely about design and much more about pulling together references and style with originality. It’s a kind of hustle, you might say.
“Marc and Ralph,” he mused, referring to Jacobs and Lauren, respectively, “are ultimate curators. Good at curating, styling—Kanye [West]’s a good one too. Curators and storytellers.”
He went on to list more: Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Willi Smith. JCPenney! And, of course, Levi’s, with whom he designed his most famous garments: a