As a brown, gay man in Helsinki with a ballroom background, Ervin Latimer's slot on the Copenhagen Fashion Week schedule this season is significant for many reasons.
The Finnish-American designer previously worked under Matthew M. Williams at Alyx and the high-end label Heliot Emil, and last week marked his debut runway show for his label Latimmier, where he brought a queer, utilitarian perspective to the Danish capital.
"I wanted to show not only that Finland has these types of designers and these types of points of view in fashion, but in general, the Nordic fashion story has been so narrow and so specific, not just from like an identity perspective but from a design perspective which has long been clean and minimalist," he tells PAPER.
Indeed, the collection's traditionally masculine tropes — shirting, suits, neckties — were all infused with a twisted, almost perverse edge thanks to skewed proportions, cutouts and off-kilter silhouettes.
For Latimer, while Latimmier is ostensibly a queer brand, the label's story runs much deeper than that. "Our story stems from queer history and the history of queer people of color in particular and the history of gender performance," he says. "It's about creating your own space where you can be who you want to be, even though the society necessarily around you is telling you something else."
Beyond just design, Latimer is also a freelance writer and does consultancy and lecturing on anti-racist practices and creative cultures, enabling him to use his platform to combine everything that interests him creatively.
His Spring 2023 collection, called "Juvenile Expectations," follows this trajectory. It was inspired by a scene from Fucking Åmål, a 1999 teenage lesbian drama by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson. "It’s the first queer movie I ever saw, paradoxically, on my first date with a girl as a closeted gay man," he says."
He showed the collection at a local gym with Crossfit trainers lifting weights and getting some pumps in, the location chosen for its place "as a temple for the performance of masculinity: a place where all senses are obtained and corrupted to preceive dominance, power and stamina." For most of the amateur models who walked the show, it was their first time on a runway.
Aesthetically, Latimer continued his exploration of a relaxed and tailored silhouette with a major focus on the button-down shirt, including soft cotton poplins and crispy summer linens.
This season, Latimer was featured as part of Copenhagen Fashion Week's NEWTALENT scheme, with the show production made possible by Wessel & Fett Fund. He's intent on proving that businesses like his in the Nordics can succeed. "There's so many kinds of ways in into performing masculinity that I'm very curious and excited by what can we do," he says.
Photos courtesy of Latimmier