Franklin Street runs east to west through Tribeca in lower Manhattan. It’s one of those urban dreamscapes—a cobblestone street lined with charming little shops and cafés. Near the end of of the street is Gary Graham‘s studio. Step inside, and immediately everything the designer and his almost-20-year-old brand stands for envelops you. The ground-floor space, which smells like floral incense and looks like an intricately decorated dollhouse, sits above the atelier where Graham’s pieces are assembled and hand-finished by his small, dedicated team. His spring collection sits in the background, patiently awaiting its turn. Today’s visit for our photo shoot is all about fall.
It’s there that we meet writer, stylist, and influencer LaTonya Yvette, a ray of sunshine in a comfy orange slipdress topped with a head of springy curls and a contagious smile. She’s one of those people who draws you in. If Graham (and his artfully designed pieces) are insightful and thoughtful, Yvette is playful and bold.
Today, Graham is previewing his fall collection for Yvette, while she in turn styles the pieces into effortless looks. Between shots and stories of Graham’s travels (a recurring theme in his work), she playfully dances to the background music and gushes over the designs.
A former costume designer, Graham is a history buff and a lover of details. This is fully evident in his fall collection, which is inspired by the Cloud Hill Victorian Museum in Warwick, Rhode Island. Standout pieces include the “Wallpaper” printed gown and the layered-print silk dress, both of which showcase prints inspired by a pattern found within the 1870s Gothic Revival mansion. Adding weight to the collection are an intricate cropped shearling jacket and Graham’s handmade alpaca cardigan that’s woven with fishing line, allowing it to mold and stretch without losing its structure.
It’s obvious Yvette appreciates his extreme attention to detail. “I like pieces that have stories and have an intention, and that’s one of the things I love about Gary’s designs,” she says. “Everything feels like it mixes in both romance and function. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing, his clothes serve a function.”
Graham’s work is opulent, elegant, and artful, and Yvette brings out the casualness in each piece. Instead of mules, she suggests sturdy Chelsea Boots, which ground the silk tunic trimmed with lace planned for the next shot. Ease is necessary for Yvette—a multi-talented writer and stylist and mother of two who loves to hang out with her kids in her home neighborhood of Clinton Hill.
A native New Yorker, Yvette was born in Brooklyn and has called the ever-changing borough home for the last ten years. The former stylist focused her talents on helping women in transition after she had her children—daughter River is 7 and son Oak is 3. She’s also a trained writer who studied literature and has spent the last few years learning to balance motherhood with her career. This approach is clear in her personal style, which artfully combines comfort and high fashion. She brings a certain brightness and relaxed attitude to everything she wears. “For me, getting dressed is a creative path,” she says. “That’s where the drama in Gary’s pieces draws me in. I love how everything can be worn on a night out but also for down time.”
The final look is a chunky sweater paired with—what else?—a crown. Like Yvette’s approach to everything, it mixes high and low, life and style, and it just works. And just like that, Graham’s team ascends to clear everything out, and Yvette is off to Brooklyn, hugging everyone as she goes. “Ultimately, I just love to feel good,” she says, and she’s on her way.