There is no doubt that designer Christian Cowan is a pioneer when it comes to over-the-top fashion design and a voice for the LGBTQ community. Mr Cowan has a naturally born instinct for business, offset only by a relentless ambition to create his vision that is contagious across multiple platforms.
With a range that includes fashion, art, nightlife and entertainment, Christian Cowan has progressed even further to bring his namesake company to take on a more colossal, creative voice.
For its Spring / Summer 2021 collection during New York Fashion Week, the brand partnered with Lil Nas, the Grammy award-winning rapper, singer and songwriter from Georgia. She rose to prominence in 2019 when her hit song took the genre by storm “Old Town Street” went viral and became the longest # 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Supporting the queer community is very important to me, but as a small brand, we usually don’t have the ability to donate large amounts of money like this. Nas and I both saw the opportunity to do something extraordinary together, as personal fans of the work Rachel Cargle is doing with the Loveland Foundation, it felt like a natural partnership. We’re excited to start a special fund for black queer teens in the Atlanta community,” the word Cowan.
A partnership born through developing friendships following the viral moment of Nas wearing Cowan’s first men’s outfit at the 2019 VMA Awards, this collaboration channels the label’s signature luxury through Nas’s lens.
This modern era evokes a feeling similar to that of the British punk movement of the 70s. This combination is seen through edgy silhouettes and high glamor that blends classic Cowan favorites, such as dresses with print accents and bows, along with new designs including polka-dotted Swarovski crystals with fur accents.
Cowan will partner with Swarovski for the first time on more than 400,000 crystals in use.
“Working with Swarovski has been my dream throughout my career. When the Swarovski team asked me to collaborate with them on my newest collection, the sky really was the limit of what allowed me to design and envision it. The crystals and elements used not only convey an extraordinary sense of luxury, but also embody the spirit of the Christian Cowan brand; attractive, innovative and iconic. “-Christian Cowan, designer
Filmed over three days in three different cities, New York, Los Angeles and London, Cowan and Nas invited friends, models, designers, singers, activists and personalities to showcase their collections in film and fashion campaigns.
“What I love about this collection is not only the clothes that are very sick and showing off, but I am also very proud of what she represents and all the people who will help her. Atlanta is my hometown and the LGBTQ + community is most at risk, so I’m glad we can offer them support. Shout out to Christian for creating some of the craziest and most incredible designs I’ve ever seen, and to my amazing stylist Hodo Musa for helping make all of this happen. ” —Lil Nas X
The unisex collection will be sold exclusively at premier luxury destination retailer FWRD.com with 100% of the proceeds going to a new fund at the Loveland Foundation that benefits Atlanta’s young Black queer community. As queer individuals, both Cowan and Nas are proud to use this as an opportunity to give back to those who have supported them.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Grammy award-winning rapper, singer and songwriter Lil Nas X and designer Christian Cowan about why. Lil Nas X believe’s Christian is very talented and he loves how exuberant his designs are and why he finds inspiration from so many different places and wears what he likes and why Christian says having to overcome so many obstacles forces us to create something really fresh, and quite funny , the positive effects far outweigh the negative effects!
Joseph DeAcetis: When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Lil Nas X: I had the feeling from a young age that I was going to do something big in the world, I didn’t know exactly what it was. I started making music in my first year of college, and the more I did, the better my music became. That’s how I know that this is what I’m meant to do.
Joseph DeAcetis: Is there a specific person or brand you’re looking for when it comes to style?
Lil Nas X: Not really – there are certain things about many people and brands that I like. My style is always evolving and I’m still experimenting with many new things.
Joseph DeAcetis: What made you want to work with Christian Cowan on this collaboration? Is there a part that stands out for you?
Lil Nas X: I met Christian when he was designing my VMA red carpet outfit last year, and he’s my friend now. He’s very talented and I love how exuberant his designs are. Everything he does suits me very well. The look of the pink suit and the body shine definitely stood out to me.
Joseph DeAcetis: How much does it mean to you that the collection will benefit the Atlanta Black Queer Community?
Lil Nas X: This means a lot to me of course. Atlanta is my hometown, and our community is often the last to take care of, so I am very grateful that we were able to make this happen and tell them all that we are here for them and supporting them.
Joseph DeAcetis: A lot of people see you as a fashion icon; do you feel like this What is your inspiration for the clothes you are wearing?
Lil Nas X: I never thought people would think of me as a fashion icon, but it’s a lot of fun to hear. I’m really excited to put my performances together last year and I’ll continue to take it to the next level. I find inspiration from so many places and I only wear what I like and find cool.
Joseph DeAcetis: Talk to Forbes about how the lockdown over the past 6 months has impacted your creativity with respect to this collection both positively and negatively?
Christian Cowan: The positive effects far outweigh the negative effects. As soon as we closed our offices, I left for England. Being in a different environment and having to overcome so many obstacles forced us to create something completely fresh, not repetitive, as is so often the case with fashion. It reminds me of a creative journey I used to go on in university, not worrying about buyers and editors, just unfiltered creativity. And the funny thing is, the collection is our best performing collection in terms of sales to date.
Joseph DeAcetis: Why did you choose to work with LIL NAS X as an ambassador for brand and social impact?
Not only has she been my past collaborator in her red carpet looks. Nas is a true pioneer of pop culture. He combines country, rap & queer culture in a harmonious way. True ambassadors for the community. I decided I wanted to create a collaborative collection for NYFW, something we’ve never done before. So when I want to collaborate with who, it must be him. We’re both new, we wanted to donate the proceeds to charity, so we teamed up with Rachel Cargle of The Loveland Foundation to create a special fund that would allow money to benefit black transgender teens. Nas reach has allowed us to collect much more than we could do alone.
Joseph DeAcetis: In the past, your show has always been a great highlight for fashion weeks – pumped with excitement. Do you feel that your remote display this season is bringing the same excitement to your audience? explain?
Christian Cowan: I do! I thought that was wonderful. The collection is very glamorous, excellent casting, Helena Christensen, Marc Jacobs, Lil Nas X, Amanda Lepore, Jade Thirlwall, Heidi Klum and many more, what’s not to like! I think we’re giving that energy, but this time it’s for the millions of people who see it, not the hundreds.
Joseph DeAcetis: What can you tell my viewers here about why they should be interested in your collection? Who is the demographic and market segmentation you are designing for your fashion for?
Christian Cowan: If you are a fan of more than clothes, then you will love it. I have three main target audiences that we sell. High net worth clients who are looking for one time chunks, to the surprise of many, the wildest pieces we sell are very good for us. Then we have a client 30-60 years old, she loves blouses, skirts, accessories, she shops in Bergdorf and loves to drink at The Marc. And last but most importantly we have our 14-25 customers, they love our collaborations & street wear. It is this diverse set of customers that allows us to monetize every view in the collection.
Joseph DeAcetis: Which collection do you think is the star? and why?
Christian Cowan: I live and die for a dress modeled by the stunning King Isis. Black silk ponte column dress, high slit, polka dots adorned with Swarovski crystals, in luxurious hand looms, hand-dyed peacock feathers, embellished with bright white dye. This is very us, high glamor, modern and a little too much.