“I learned how to sew from my grandmother when I was three years old,” says twenty-seven-year-old Dylan Larson, a local clothing designer also known as Bambi. “I spent a lot of time with her when my mother was at work, and she taught me how to create things out of fabric,” he says. “My grandmother would send me home to my mother’s with bags of fabric scraps and I would sit on the living room floor and make clothes for my Barbies with the materials. I even used dryer sheets to create outfits! So I knew from a young age that this is the only thing I wanted to do.”
And Bambi kept at it, eventually studying fashion design at Columbia College Chicago, an experience he found invaluable: “I was lucky to have inspiring professors that drove me to achieve high goals and create beautiful things. At Columbia, you become well-rounded in what it means to be an artist, and you’re trained in multiple facets of the industry outside of fashion, which I found extremely rewarding.” He seems to have learned to balance his artistic sensibilities with a commercial side. Even though Bambi’s garments have a strong point of view, they can be paired with more casual pieces: “You could wear one of my pieces with a T-shirt and instantly become a little bit more chic and daring,” he says. His style is both futuristic and romantic. “Some of my greatest inspirations come from historical periods, as well as the beauty that is found in nature. Every collection I have made has been designed in a day, because when the inspiration hits I will sketch furiously until I get every possible idea out,” he says. “Then I take those ideas and work on fabrication and patterns.”
To bring a textural quality to his designs, Bambi favors materials such as PVC and different finishes of leather—in addition to classic fabrics like wools and silks. Androgyny is another strong trait in his garments, which exude a glam-rock charm: “I strive to push boundaries with fashion and make the world a more beautiful and inclusive place with my clothes,” he says. “Fashion, especially menswear, has been lagging behind for over a century, and I want to change that.” And Bambi is doing exactly that.
Art direction: Bambi (@bambicollection) and Isa Giallorenzo (@chicagolooks)
Photography and graphic design: Carissa Coughlin (@salt.factory)
Hair and Makeup: Tia Latrice (@makeup_by_tialatrice)
Model: Robertson Scott (@glamourcadaver)
Bambi’s pieces can be purchased at bambicollection.com (also available custom-made in different materials).
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.