Fashion Week Q&A with D’joone’s Demar Lee Altenor and Christopher Leveille

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

January 28, 2016

Haitian-born D’joone’s Demar Lee Altenor moved to the United States in 2010 to attend high school in Florida. As a child, he loved to express himself through drawing. He later discovered that he could unleash his creativity through fashion and clothing. He graduated early from high school, and at the age of 16 moved to New York City to study fashion design at The Art Institute of New York City. He’s currently working toward an Associate in Applied Science in Fashion Design at the school.

Working alongside D’joone’s on their New York Fashion Week debut is Christopher Leveille. Also a native of Haiti, Christopher moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2008. He first studied liberal arts at Kings Borough Community College before turning his focus to fashion design. He’s currently working toward an Associate in Applied Science in Fashion Design at the school.

D’joone’s and Christopher have titled their collection “Urban Nomad.”

What inspired your collection for New York Fashion Week?

Our collection [represents] the ever-changing life and constantly evolving environment of an Urban Nomad, which we expressed through fabrication, construction, and design.

How did you work together to create your collection?

During our design process, we had many ideas but what really stood out to us was the life of nomads because it relates to our lives. Our [inspiration] was based on the definition of a nomad—an individual who does not have a permanent home and travels from one place to another constantly.

The “urban” [part of the concept] comes from the modern New York City aesthetic our collection holds. We chose heavy, durable fabrics like leather, shearling, and cotton batting for comfort and warmth. We also utilized useable pockets, layering, and distressed fabrics to create the look and feel of an Urban Nomad.

How did your fashion design education help you through the creative process?

D’joone’s: My education taught me about collection development, sewing, and sketching. Developing a collection takes a lot of time and effort. Everything has to make sense and be cohesive. [My education] also taught me that every stich counts in the making of a garment.

Christopher: The good thing about [studying at The Art Institute of New York City is you learn that] thinking outside the box is as important as knowing the basics. The key to creating a great collection is for the designer to really believe in his or her inspiration. After that precious moment, everything falls together.

What’s a day in your lives look like as you both prepare for Fashion Week?

Preparing for this event, we faced many challenges. This included fabrication, construction, choosing looks, and time management. Our biggest challenge of them all was definitely choosing fabrics.

As a team, we had to decide which fabrics corresponded with each look and which fabrics would [cause] difficulties while sewing certain garments. [We had to make] sure the fabrics we chose matched our aesthetic. As a team, we learned that the impossible is possible.

What advice would you give to fashion design students?

D’joone’s: Making a collection is not about being cool or different. It’s about staying true to yourself. As a designer, you could use just about anything for an inspiration and come up with a collection. But a true designer’s inspiration is something that they are passionate about.

Christopher: The most important aspect of being a fashion design student is to believe deeply in what inspires you. Once you believe in your inspiration, your design process will come to you easily. Finding an inspiration is an euphoric feeling. Designers are in their own little world and sometimes they can only understand the true meaning behind the inspiration.

Which designers, blogs, or publications do you follow?

D’Joone’s: [I follow] Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, John Galliano, Damir Doma, Raf Simmons, Michelle, Pinterest, Forbes 30 under 30, Dezeen Magazine, Daze, and NY Magazine.

Christopher: [I’m inspired by] Boris Bidjan Saberi, Oliver Rousteing, Hedi Slimane, Shayne Oliver, Pinterest, Forbes 30 under 30, CR Magazine, WGSN, and Instagram.

Watch the live broadcast here!

Check out the other designers participating in Fashion Week

View their sketches and inspiration board by clicking on the thumbnails


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