Mikael Vilchez

University / School:
HEAD – Geneva University of Art & Design
Graduation Year:
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Collection – Forbidden Denimeries


For this collection, I have selected eleven women who have inspired me since my childhood and I transposed their looks on jeans (pantalon ou tissu?). These women are very different from each other and come from different backgrounds such as cinema, TV series, music or dance.
They always accompany me in different situations, as if I incarnated one of them to face certain moments of life, to give me the impression that my life is a movie or a video clip in order to de-dramatize or hyper-dramatize reality.


This collection is completely in line with my work until today. The limits of gender and haute couture for my Bachelor’s collection, the confrontations of queer codes to my latino origins translated into jeans and t-shirt with a much more streetwear approach for my first year of Master.

I also looked at the influence of pop culture on me, the concepts of «jeanserie», «pétasserie», of clothing which its only purpose is to be sexy. I wanted to explore and flirt with the limits of these concepts which sometimes arise from bad taste, and contrast them with other more intellectual references that inspire me as much.

It was primordial for me to unite all these aspirations in order to create the most sincere collection. Designate denim as a technical link allowed me to work on all these divas and their ‘mise en scène’ in a truly personalized, spontaneous and dynamic way. 
Denim has become a real medium of expression. In addition to design, I feel a huge pleasure in staging my work through photo and video. It was very important for me, even if it had its risks, to find a customized methodology that would allow me to integrate video throughout the design process.

The plan was the following: each week, a different woman, a complete look, a video in which I put myself in scene in my everyday life regarding the woman in question.


The strongest discovery that made everything click was a cross for Buffy (from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer) made in multi-layer laminated jeans. I then developed the idea as a bracelet before deciding to integrate it into the rest of the collection. This principle of multilayers almost dictated the way I was going to reformulate my own denim vocabulary. Replace the present seams with open stitched seams without top-stitch, remove the rivets and the fifth pocket, apply the multilayers technique on the pockets, the belt or even the entire garment.

I also wanted to keep the principle of automatic button by covering it on some parts with 3D elements that I developed in prototyping workshop. It is mainly in the cut and the details that I inserted feminine codes, in a fluid way, avoiding creating discrepancies. As if I was playing with gender by placing my armholes very inside (bizarre de dire ‘very inside’), approaching and multiplying my buttons, leaving the threads at the end of the seams, working the bending. 
This patternmaking work is divided into two parts, highly structured pieces and 2D pieces. This dosage in the fit allowed me to create highly worked pieces and others very spontaneous and fast so as to create a balance in the collection between absolute control and a much more direct, effortless way to create prototypes.

Finally, thanks to my sponsor Vichuna I was able to discover the washing industry in Treviso in Italy where I washed some of my creations in the Wash Italia factory. I wanted to get a vintage industrial washed out. The pieces were assembled and finished in a conventional way before the washing to mark the denim and then disassembled and reassembled with my own denim vocabulary. This experience also allowed me to merge my interest in certain industrial techniques to the processing of details and more experimental details.

Finally, the title is echoing my work of jeans, to all these warnings concerning the concept of «jeanserie», bad taste, flirting with popular visuals, playing with the limits of gender. The jeans became like a modeling paw in which I sculpted several different references in my own way.
Mikael Vilchez was born in Geneva (Switzerland) on June 17, 1990. From a very young age he feels the need to express himself through drawings, photography and videos (the image), as well as through his body, or objects he creates. Questioning gender and stereotypes has always been an inspiration in his work. What differentiates male from female? What is virility? How will men define masculinity in the coming decades? In all cases, transgressions of genders and subcultures create emotions, and the idea of making this a style stimulates him..  Mikael always has a 360-interdisciplinary approach in his projects. He needs to make his own pictures and videos; a strong cinematographic and visual orientation is omnipresent and emphasized in all his work. After obtaining his Bachelor degree in 2014, Mikael decides to go to Paris to work for the womenswear design department of Balenciaga.  In June 2015 Mikael receives the Swiss Design Award for his BA collection entitled My masculine model is a woman, a menswear collection that was inspired by his grand-mother.  In June 2017, he receives again the Swiss Design Award for his MA first year’s collection: Summer 16-17. The collection is based on his peruvian /latinos origins through jeans and t-shirts, and addresses the stereotypical perception of the ‘latino masculinity’. Mikael graduates in the same month, completing his Master degree at HEAD-Genève, and wins the Mercedes Prize during the fashion show of the school for his collection Forbidden Denimeries in October 2017. The jury was directed by Serge Ruffieux, artistic director of Carven.