A Feel for Fashion: Race Imboden

January 22, 2023

The American left-handed foil fencer, Race Imboden, is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and 2019 team World Champion. In a competition in Peru, in 2019, the champion knelt on one knee on the medal podium as the United States national anthem played in protest against racism, for gun control, for the mistreatment of immigrants, and against the rhetoric of President Donald Trump. Beyond foil fencing, he began a successful modelling career after being scouted at the 2012 London Olympics. Imboden is now based in Paris where he has established a creative studio. He is engaged to the French foil fencer, Ysaora Thibus.

What creates an emotional response for you in fashion today?

I love clothing that enhances my imagined character and the space I created for him to occupy. Any great creation plays upon our subconscious opinion of who we truly are, and maybe who we want to be. I feel like intimacy and construction are very important to me in clothing.

Often we see several designers arriving at a similar idea during a season. How do you explain this creative intuition?

This might not be such a bad thing. We have entered an era of information access and thus we have created a somewhat even playing field for gathering and sharing inspiration. We will see divergent thinkers; I just believe we have to give them time to appear.  I am also of the opinion we are all more similar than we would like to believe. Are two symphonies led by different composers really the same? I would beg the listener to train their ear.

How do you feel about designers expressing or interpreting their worldviews in their collections?

I love it. It’s that simple. Without opinion what is creation? 

How would you like to see fashion evolving this year?

In clothing, I would like to see the end of the loud and return of the subtle. The strongest and most influential characters in my life have never needed to be the loudest in the room. I believe the same goes for elevated design. On the streets, the access the youth has had to clothing is immense. They have also been inundated with fashion advertising, which has driven logos and statements, over garments and style.  Excess and extravagance have been the undercurrent of a generation.  I would like to see the new cool be more refined and sharper, especially in menswear.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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