Asymmetry Collection by Alicia Ybarra + Chris Gulick

Wearable sculpture goes to New York Fashion Week

Written by Karen Long | Photography by Brian Ach for Getty Images and hiTechMODA

A bright, kinetic and eclectic collection launched at New York Fashion Week, Feb. 8, during the Haute Couture runway show at hiTechMODA. Sheer and translucent fabrics played off against larger-than-life geometric shapes in primary colors, an aesthetic that carried over to the models’ multi-hued makeup and Andy-Warhol-meets-Marie-Antionette hair.

The collection, titled appropriately enough, Asymmetry, was a collaboration between two Wichitans: couture designer Alicia Ybarra and sculptor Chris Gulick, and was introduced to New York Fashion Week with the help of an ICT army.

“That was one of the most rewarding parts, was seeing how the community just came together,” says Ybarra, from her studio, Vanya Designs, in the Commerce Street Art District, during a joint interview with Gulick. Eric Fisher Salon sent a team of hair maestros to NYC, including Trish Dool and her assistant Kennedi Sills. In fact, it was early photos of the collection, taken by Fisher’s team and posted on Instagram, which initially caught the eye of New York Fashion Week curators.

Caitlin Slemp of Free People Film Productions crafted a behind-the-scenes film that played on a 40-foot video wall as models promenaded a procession of moving art. Sierra Scott was one of those models, and also recruited a Phoenix videographer to document the show.

And the entire Wichita community came together to provide financial support, from major sponsors to individuals sliding dollars into a PayPal fund to defray travel costs for the unexpected trip to New York City.

Sculpture couture

From the beginning Ybarra and Gulick wanted the collection to blossom in the terrain somewhere between art and fashion. “From the hair to the makeup to the pieces on the body, we wanted this to be seen as one piece of art,“ says Ybarra.

“We’ve created this garment,” adds Gulick, “but the human is what makes it kinetic, they make it move,”

The synergistic meeting of fashion and sculpture backed by an energetic video wall met with an appreciative response of oohs and aahs, plus positive feedback for the two collaborators — and potential leads for future ventures.

“We each had some really good meetings with individual companies,” says Ybarra, “It wasn’t simply this really great experience — which has always been a dream of mine. I was able to make some crucial connections with people in the industry regarding Vanya Designs as well.” The designer has also been hard at work on launching a new bridal collection, the Convertible Couture Collection, which she unveiled at Omaha Fashion Week just weeks after returning from New York.

Gulick made some important contacts as well, including some that could promote a body of sculpture he’s been working on, which advances a message of promoting emotional and mental health.

“I’ve been part of group shows for many years,” adds Gulick, “and this is the largest full-on talent/art show I’ve ever been in.” He also has something to say to an ambitious new generation of Wichita artists: “This is about showing the young guns coming in that you can do this. This is a possible thing and, yes, what you do and what you have to say is relevant and important.”

The collaboration

The Asymmetry Collection got its start when Gulick scribbled sculptural elements over photographs of models in his wife’s fashion magazines. A few years later he randomly ran into Ybarra at an estate sale. The two started chatting and the sculptor shared his ideas for a collection of wearable art, and mentioned how he was looking for someone to help make it a reality.

“I’m up for the challenge, let’s do this!” said Ybarra. “To me it was really rewarding to watch an idea — Chris’s idea — and be involved in bringing that to life. You know, that’s what I do with my company on a daily basis: I take someone’s idea of her dream gown for her wedding, or whatever event she might be going to, and I build that for her.

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