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Monse creatives still see themselves as fashion outsiders

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Monse founders Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are stars in the fashion business — they're also the creatives behind Oscar de la Renta — but they see themselves as outsiders in the industry.

"We're not like mean people," Garcia told The Associated Press backstage after a runway show Friday for Monse's fall-winter 2020 collection.

"We're not like cool people," added Kim.

So when a mischievous rat character caught their eye in Wes Anderson's animated film "Fantastic Mr. Fox," they thought he was the perfect launch point for their new collection.

"He had a striped sweater on which we loved," Garcia said. "We love stripes."

The pair started to research punk, but as self-professed anti-cool kids decided to disrupt those concepts.

"It was kind of like doing (a) punk collection through an eye of someone who doesn't really know what it is," Kim said.

The collection mixed primary colors showcased on layers of heavy knits with both Scottish and '80s punk-grunge influences in plaid kilts and sweaters accessorized with combat style boots.

Other looks came in pops of animal print and the word “Monse” on shoes and some of the knits.

Kim and Garcia said they loved the idea of playing with textures, layering silk dresses and tops over silver sequins. They paired skirts, jackets and dresses with intricately beaded net stockings and sleeves. Many of the looks were adorned with safety pins — a punk staple — ranging in different sizes and shapes from tiny drop earrings to large clothing fasteners.

With the Oscars on Sunday, it was a busy time to prep for two fashion shows — de la Renta included — but Kim and Garcia said they were ready.

“You just have to plan ahead,” Garcia said. “So as long as you get your ducks in order you should be fine.”

One celebrity they've dressed lately in Monse was best supporting actress nominee Florence Pugh, who turned heads at the Oscars nominees luncheon in an orange silk one-shoulder dress.

"When I heard the nominations and she was a part of that it was so exciting for me," Garcia said. “When Rebecca Corbin-Murray, her stylist, brought her to us one year ago, she was unknown. And the work that she has done in the last year or two has been possibly my favorite of the whole year so we were just really proud of the fact that she championed us early on, and now when she went to the Oscar luncheon she championed us one more time.”