Photo by Rush Varela
Speaking with Henry Duarte about his accomplishments in the fashion industry is more like taking a crash course in music history.
Back in the 80’s when Henry attended Otis College of Art and Design and later FIDM, (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise) for him, it was all about securing a Downtown creative loft lifestyle.
Yet, after leaving behind fun filled days of surfing the waves of Hermosa Beach, Henry found the cold vast loft spaces and the harsh realities of an 80’s Downtown weren’t as glamorous as they were being portrayed in all of the television and trendy movies of the day.
His huge loft, as he remembers, was cold and required him to build a separate space high- above the floors to trap the heat and he had to wear a jacket while at home.
What Downtown did have to offer Henry was a home base and the prospect to develop the early designs which led to the fashion
masterpieces that have since been sought after by almost all of the Rock N Roll legends of our time.
At 23 and heavily influenced by Japanese fashion, Henry’s first celebrity client was Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné! fame.
Tony! had made a strong name in the R&B scene and pop music was just as ready for Henry’s appetite for design and later feeding him the likes of New Edition, NXS, New Kids on the Block, Ricky Martin and Vanilla Ice. Before he knew it he was dressing nothing but pop stars.
Those were the 80’s. Then enter the 90’s and Lenny Kravitz, who sought out Henry to help enhance his already famous “lady killer” looks. Kravitz was to open up for David Bowie and found the same harmony inside Henry’s dark gothic inner voice that would soon impact countless others inside the world of the Rock N Roll elite.
Within a month of meeting Lenny, Henry was introduced to Axl Rose of Guns and Roses and continued redefining the style of the
modern day Rock star.
The 90’s and early 2000s were spent in a West Hollywood inside a store front on Sunset Boulevard, making and selling his signature Duarte leathers, famed lace-up jeans, matching shirts and jackets. The jeans everybody wanted.
Henry Duarte is the designer of the Rock World. Whether it was dressing Alice and Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Sound Garden, the Cure or Nirvana, Henry’s designs, either center stage or red carpet were tested on millions of fans eager for musical satisfaction or a chance to pick apart their favorite artist’s fashion sense. There’s no telling how many inspired musicians, rock bands or just regular people took their look from their musical inspirations.
For 25 years, that’s all he did was dress rock bands but that’s not all. In the process Henry has been on a magical journey allowing him to meet his childhood rock legends, including Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and Bob Dillon to name a few. Still very much in the music scene, Henry’s love for music has been rewarded with a generous career and world wide name in the industry.
Henry Returns to DTLA Henry has adapted well to the times and notes the Internet has a large part to play in the way fashion is being viewed today. Instead of seeking out magazines, or having to attend fashion shows, like the days of old, fashion trends are readily available via the web, making it easier to stay current and reinvent. Spending most of his years in the business of making hand made clothing, today Henry is looking forward to developing and mass manufacturing a new jean brand, and major collaborations with larger franchises to help distribute his wears.
After 25 years Henry has returned to Downtown. He’s opened a design studio and showroom on 7th and Los Angeles and filled it with museum style Goth pieces he calls his, “lil goodies”. On the glass door of his fashion studio, no name, just a logo that appears to be a winged tombstone with a black bird sitting a top inspired by the black birds that surround his home in the hills of Laurel Canyon.
Seemingly, Henry who had always loved Rock N Roll has found himself on a musical journey to land of Oz (Hollywood) only to return home to Downtown with a fantastic story. Anyone hoping to get a glimpse of what its like to go on such a fantastic journey can find Henry most days at his location in Downtown.
“I didn’t realize when I was doing it all.
Looking back now, it seems like a 20 year
blur of Rock N Roll beauty.
Every week someone was callin…”
Jon Bon Jovi
Mavericks – Maurice White
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Earth Wind and Fire
Styxx – White Strips
Wynonna Judd – Billy Idol
and then there’s Hollywood…