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Forty-five year old Gustavo Lins studied to be an architect in his native Brazil. He would be designing dwellings today if his professor hadn't asked him to reconsider which materials he'd rather be working with - glass and steel or linen and silk?
Lins' vocabulary is still that of an architect or a sculptor. He describes the upside-down, stitched "T" that shapes the elbows and shoulders and his jackets and the knees of his trouses as the pilier and the poutre of his clothes, and says that women particularly like the drapé of his dresses. "J'ai vraiment le sentiment d'exprimer l'esprit de l'architecture à travers le vêtement," he says. "A distance, c'est un objet; porté, ça devient une espace. Je le construit, mais c'est la personne avec son esprit et son intelligence et sa personnalité qui l'occupe!"
Lins' Fall/Winter collection of leather-piped wool shirts and jackets, paper-thin leather tunics, clean-lined drap de laine wool coats, and draped wool jersey dresses is his eighth. Roughly half of his 65-piece collection is destined for men, an "efficient" and "systematic" wardrobe of coat/jacket/shirt/knitwear/trousers like a uniform that he designs with himself and his needs in mind. Lins' womenswear shares a similar slim, straight-shouldered silhouette but also has an almost medieval allure this season. "The collection is a blend of armure souple and drapé," Lins says.
Fashioned from the most exclusive fabrics - cashmere, silk jersey, cool wool, wool crepe and softest lambskin - Gustavo Lins' clothes are quietly luxurious. As a fledgling designer, he apprenticed with John Galliano, Lecoanet Hemant and Jean-Paul Gaultier Couture, and worked alongside a woman who used to be Cristobal Balenciaga's chef d'atélier. These were experiences that taught Lins the rigors of cut, the importance of fit, and instilled in him a love of fine fabrics. In the early years of his label, he moonlighted as a modéliste for other big name brands, and his preoccupation with taking the two-dimensional design of a garment and making it a three-dimensional reality still informs his work. Lins is obsessed with the way clothes hang on a body, and fits all his pieces on a mannequin. His garments, many of them reversible and as beautiful on the inside as on the outside, are displayed on three-dimensional torsos, "so that people can see the garment's inside as well as its outside."
The men and women who wear Lins' clothes are a select bande d'initiés . They recognize eachother by the topstitching that articulates the "joints" of their jackets and trousers; the slim leather piping finishing the edges of a jacket lapel or detailing the drape of a dress collar. Another giveaway would be the Gustavo Lins label, but you'd have to really look for it. His name is there, certes, but completely hidden, under an architect's triangle of smooth leather stitched at the back of the neck.