Cesar Galindo has been quietly working for big shots in the fashion industry for decades now, making him one of the most seasoned designers on Joe Zee’s All On the Line. Content to carve a small niche for himself, he’s not looking for superstar status.
“I’d rather be at home eating ramen soup than working for an asshole,” he says, surrounded by piles of fabric and clothing in his shared studio space in New York City’s garment district. “I’d rather be small right now and grow with the times.”
Galindo, 45, had the chance to blow up several times. While on tour with Mariah Carey (“When I was with her she looked better.”) he met Francisco Costa and went to design for Calvin Klein, where he had to fight the urge to splash vibrant colors all over the bare white walls. His dresses were photographed up along side the greats. He even graced the cover of ELLE in July 1993. He still dresses Joan Jett and works for Gwen Stefani.
But being small comes at a steep price. Aside from working constantly, the bottom line is always edging closer, looming. He understands that retail is a fickle business in this shaky economy, which, in a way, is perfect for his escapist styles. He just launched his latest company, CZAR, which is more contemporary than his previous designs and uses bright colors and a simple, one-seam architecture. It’s all about fleeing. “Who wants to live in reality right now?”
Galindo’s reality has been particularly grueling as of late. His partner passed away three years ago, and Galindo still mourns him. But he’s lost a partner before—as well as his parents—so he takes his grief in waves. It’s a constant companion.
He finds inspiration in those experiences, as well as the human form—and textiles, textiles, textiles. Galindo starts his designs by g
oing to the fabric market, and when he comes across something that sparks his imagination, he buys it, and then he drapes it. For Czar’s spring 2012 collection, he’s created a jacket, mini-skirt, pant, and dress out of shadow-striped poly organza with impeccable finishes.
“Just because it’s contemporary doesn’t mean it has to be cheap,” he says, eyeballing his designs.
Before CZAR became his outlet for fun, light-handed designs, he made clothes for the classic lady. He still does in fact, going to Houston often. Born and raised there as the youngest of 11 children in a Mexican household, Galindo learned about sewing, dresses–and the Texas lady. He does trunk shows there and still has personal clients—the ladies of leisure—who want to look good. “They have money and they don’t want it for free.”
See if he scores another big client with Texas roots, Cusp, which Joe Zee brings him tonight, on the Sundance Channel.