Algernon Johnson sees the world through energies. And in the world of fashion design, this vision is his superpower.
Johnson is a fashion designer, wardrobe stylist, creative director and costume designer who designs and styles on both coasts. Johnson is showing his Sir Algernon collection at Denver Fashion Week’s Couture Night on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
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Most of his designs don’t start from sketches. Instead, Johnson begins his design process from the moment he becomes acquainted with someone.
“After meeting someone, shaking their hand and a few moments of conversation, I can immediately design something for them,” Johnson said. “My process starts in my head — meeting that energy, whoever the person is.”
Not much of a sketch artist, Johnson instead pieces together visions in his brain before he picks the fabric: again, searching mostly based on the feeling the fabric evokes rather than searching for specifics.
This unique vision is innate: it started when Johnson was a young boy growing up in Los Angeles watching his father — a pastor of a local parish — dress up. With perfectly tailored suits and precisely coordinated accessories (down to the socks), Johnson’s father served as one of Johnson’s inspirations for fashion and style.
Coupled with that, Johnson has his vision — he could feel a different energy and see a new potential for playful design in his father’s put-together dress clothes.
“I wanted to know what it was like to put things together. I would take some of [my father’s] dress shirts and change the buttons and take it apart and put it back together,” Johnson said. “I had to take it apart to see the process.”
Johnson’s energy-based design and fabric selection mirror his innate knowledge of making the unexpected out of classic fashion choices. His brand is continuously influenced by Old Hollywood Glam — starting with his early appreciation for Lucille Ball’s perfectly cut and coordinated looks in “I Love Lucy.”
The resulting portfolio combines the classic with the unexpected, forming a lively collection of bright colors and jewel tones — all well-tailored into timeless Old Hollywood silhouettes: from seamless monochromatic looks to intricate patterns and carefully chosen pops of color.
The consistent theme of bright color is an intentional choice — Johnson designs pieces that evoke the same positive energy he infuses into his projects.
“We live in a really really really dark world. Post pandemic, politically, with all the shootings and killings – our world is super duper dark,” Johnson said. “I’m inspired to put some color out there to make somebody smile or feel better, at least for a moment.”
Ultimately, Johnson’s designs are as mood-boosting as they are aesthetically pleasing. The energizing quality of his designs is another reason why Johnson leans into bright colors
“It makes you feel good when you put it on,” Johnson said. “Putting on a color changes your mood and changes the way you exist in the world, the way you walk outside that day even if it’s just to the grocery store or to the mailbox.”
This intentionality is the continuous thread between all of Johnson’s designs. In fact, Johnson maintains a personal mantra to keep himself accountable to his true intentions: he only works on projects that give him the same energy back that he puts into each design.
“I can’t thrive in a space where I feel like my energy is being sucked dry. It has to be a situation that means something to me — that’s important,” Johnson said.
As such, Johnson chooses his projects as intentionally as he creates them. One project that consistently provides Johnson with the good energy he seeks is his design of custom wedding dresses.
When Johnson designs for a bride, he’s thinking about her future. He’s focusing on how this bride will move forward into a new chapter and how she’ll feel on the day this new era starts. He infuses all of his good intentions and hopes for the bride’s future into the gowns he creates.
“There’s a surge I get when I make something for someone starting their new life – moving into new territory – never been a wife, never been married. And encompassing all of that energy and all of that anxiety – good and bad,” Johnson said.
Come Denver Fashion Week, Johnson will be bringing his one-of-a-kind designs to Denver for the very first time.
“I just want to express gratitude for being able to share in a space that I’ve never been able to share there in Denver,” Johnson said. “It’s a humbling situation because when someone is inspired by what you do, that’s a part of the evidence that what you’re doing matters.”
In a world where energy shapes our experiences, Algernon Johnson stands as a visionary of fashion design. His unique approach, rooted in sensing the energies of those he meets, allows him to craft pieces that transcend the conventional.
Johnson’s designs radiate bright colors, reflecting his mission to bring joy and optimism to a sometimes dark world. His wedding dresses are a testament to his dedication to empowering individuals as they embark on new life chapters.
Algernon Johnson’s designs are more than garments; they are statements of intention, hope, and a brighter tomorrow.
Denver Fashion Week Fall ’23 will take place November 11-19, 2023 at York Street Yards.
DFW Tickets can be purchased here.