You cannot put Chromat designer Becca McCharen-Tran in a box. Diversity is not “a thing” for her—it’s life. As a child, she busted her dolls out of their boxes and made clothes and dollhouses filled with her own handmade furniture so that they could fulfill her own unique vision of femininity.
Now in her 10th season at New York Fashion Week with body-positive brand Chromat, McCharen-Tran continues to bust the fashion world out of its Barbie-doll-body box when it comes to casting models.
Her FW18 runway show is the very grown-up and sophisticated big-girl version of her childhood obsessions—obsessions that include rich-cobalt-blue swimming pools, Cheetos and a penchant for fitness-friendly tech fabrics. In Chromat’s world, it’s about loving the body you have and flashing your feathers—no matter what size, shape, color or orientation your tail might happen to be—which is why Chromat consistently has the prettiest and happiest flock of birds on and off the runway.
Candy-colored swimsuits in your favorite Starburst-flavor color combos (red and pink, of course), tantalizingly laced together with red cords that resembled licorice ropes, ruled the runway at Chromat’s Friday showing. Cheeto orange was also a dominant color here, in cool multipocket leggings and peekaboo cabana tops and overalls. Swimwear for the conservative Muslim customer was so deftly handled, but it read not as an exception but, rather, as a really cool outfit for any fashion lover to wear and make her own.
And while there was lots of skin on the runway, there was not a whole lot of skinny, a reality that, in a business where we keep begging for diversity, is still mostly ignored in mainstream fashion presentations. Chromat is a business we would all do well to support, not only because the designer is really talented but because, if you want to see a real diversity of images of womanhood represented in fashion, you should vote with your dollar—along with celebrity clients like Beyoncé, Madonna, FKA Twigs, Zendaya, Taylor Swift, Tyra Banks and Nicki Minaj, all of whom are Chromat fans.
Whoopi Goldberg even made a rare front-row appearance at yesterday’s show in a jean jacket appliquéd with a Black Power vagina illustrated on the back—one that actress Keke Palmer, also seated in the front row, took a moment to appreciate. Want to know more about Chromat? You can watch my in-depth interview with designer Becca McCharen-Tran here.