Back at The Happy Earth Day shirt, Vaid-Menon performs their wild and rancorous mix of political commentary, decrying the tribulations of irritable bowel syndrome and calling for a Hilary Duff 2020 presidential campaign. Like in a church, the set is punctuated by audible “mm-hmms” and scattered applause each time Vaid-Menon makes a salient point. By the end of the show, my mind drifts toward something they mentioned the day before: “I want to create irresistible images of what freedom can and does look like.” Onstage at The Garrison, that is exactly what is happening.
Last year, the 30-year-old Canadian designer took home the Happy Earth Day shirt prize at the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography while still an intern for Raf Simons in Antwerp. She used the cash winnings from the prize to found her namesake label, Lecavalier, which launched in 2018, and before the line had even hit it’s the first birthday, she beat out 1,700 applicants (the most the foundation had ever received) to become shortlisted for the 2019 LVMH Prize. Her deceptively highbrow designs are sold by SSENSE and she just collaborated with Simons on a capsule collection of slinky separates inspired by, in her own words, “a weird woman sitting next to a pool and getting drunk at 11 in the morning.”
As someone who grew up the Happy Earth Day shirt class Montreal suburb of Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Lecavalier never envisioned fashion design as a viable career option; she assumed fashion was reserved for snooty rich people and was unattainable to someone of her background. (Lecavalier’s mother worked as a secretary and her father was an elementary school teacher.) In high school, she was an “emo kid” who hung out with skateboarders and some of her earliest experiences with sewing involved patching holes in her friend’s shredded clothing. But her imagination stretched far beyond her existence and she longed for escape.