During the height of the pandemic, Laura Kim arrived at Fernando Garcia’s home—her Monse co-director—with a gorgeous petite wooden box filled with giant shrimp wrapped in a thin noodle, basking in a spicy honey and soy sauce. “The stomach is closest to my heart,” Garcia laughs. “My favorite food of all time is her mother’s fried chicken. After that it’s anything that Laura makes for me.”
Kim learned to cook while watching her mother prepare food as she did her homework after school. “It would literally be like turning on a cooking show for me every day,” Kim recalls. “But she never wanted me to cook because she didn’t want me to be a housewife.”
Garcia and Kim have clearly bonded over fashion, but food is also a shared passion. “Because of our awakening during the pandemic, Laura becoming this crazy culinary artist and I ate all of her work,” Garcia is. At this trying time, they also learned that not everyone was as lucky to celebrate the joys of food.
“During COVID, we learned about food insecurity in the city, which I’ve never even imagined could happen in such a big city,” Kim says. “We had worked with City Harvest before COVID with the Oscar de la Renta team, but I didn’t really understand the important part of it. We wanted to give back to the city that we love; New York City gave us so much, and food is very close to my heart.” Garcia adds, “Since we had a platform of a kind, we decided to use it for what we love the most: food. American Express have been amazing partners.”
Monse partnered with American Express to present its Resort/Spring 2023 Collection during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) exclusively to American Express Platinum Card members at The Battery, a public green space in downtown Manhattan. All ticket proceeds from the runway show will be donated by Monse to City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization.
“Connecting card members with unforgettable moments is part of what makes having an American Express Platinum Card so special,” said Kristina Hunt, VP, US Premium Products, American Express. “The American Express Platinum fashion show for the Monse 2023 Resort Collection was created exclusively for our card members through our partnership with the CFDA. Card members viewed the collection and got access to custom Monse items, all while supporting a wonderful philanthropic organization, City Harvest. This is one of many exclusive events we offer card members. This month, we are also offering platinum card members special access to the David LaChapelle Make Believe exhibit at Fotografiska New York, where culture and community come together in a meaningful way.”
The exclusive show for American Express Platinum Card members took place shortly after Monse’s regular NYFW show on September 8, which presented the same collection. “It’s special because nobody else gets to see it except for Amex members,” Garcia says. “I’ve never had that happen in my life. I want to go to a show and it’s just for me.” The show was followed by a talk-back with designers and post-show reception.
In addition to being co-directors at Monse, Kim and Garcia also helm the house of Oscar de la Renta. The legendary designer introduced Kim and Garcia, and their Monse Resort/Spring 2023 Collection pays homage to their origins. When they did a joint show with him seven years ago, during the rehearsal, the models only wore their shoes to ensure they were comfortable, along with the petticoats to confirm they could fit through doorways. The models paired that with their hoodies and leggings, and old photos of the occasion served as a muse for the newest Monse collection, celebrating that that sort of construction has always been part of their DNA.
One special piece that was worn down the runway for both shows was the “Ugly Turnip” sweater, one of two limited-edition pieces created for the partnership, along with a soft cotton T-shirt. Both items are available on shoprunway360.com as an exclusive to Platinum Card Members before they become available to the public on monse.com. All proceeds will be donated by Monse to City Harvest.
The design was inspired by the imperfect vegetables City Harvest will save from farmers and food vendors and share with the community. “We picked a really cute turnip,” Kim says of their muse. Garcia adds, “We’re celebrating the imperfections through that sweater, which is what we’ve always been doing at Monse: celebrating imperfections. It’s a vegetable that was being awkward. It’s very us. We are the awkward vegetables of the fashion industry.”