New York designer Free Maison gives chainmail fashion a lux glow-up

New York, New York - Chainmail is one of the hottest trends in high fashion, and a fierce new New York City label is ushering it in with a clang.

Free Maison founders Tay Dun (r.) and Jesse Aviv with pieces from their debut couture chainmail collection.
Free Maison founders Tay Dun (r.) and Jesse Aviv with pieces from their debut couture chainmail collection.  © Collage: Averie Cole & Free Maison

Whether bronze, silver, or gold-tinged, it's no secret the looks of late have stormed the fashion battlefield with metal mania.

Layered jewelry and metallic accents on everything from hair to shoes have proved their staying power through viral trends like the mob wife aesthetic.

But it's the protective clothing that debuted in the 3rd century BC that's getting the real glow-up.

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Chainmail, aka linked patterned metal rings, has gone full out with feeling this year in fits from famous faces like Miley Cyrus at the Grammys and on the runways of both New York and Paris Fashion Week.

Now, a luxury label in New York has entered the chat.

Free Maison co-founders Jesse Aviv and Tay Dun launched their debut collection of chainmail couture amid New York Fashion Week and said they're looking to reignite the style's significance "from streetwear to red carpet."

"People seem to be appreciating fashion as a true art now more than ever," Aviv, the brand's creative director, told TAG24 NEWS. "Chainmail is popular because of its intricacies."

The eye-catching new drop includes handcrafted metallic pieces that might just as easily be hung on the wall as art as serving bombshell lewks.

Visitors checked out Free Maison's inaugural chainmail couture collection amid New York Fashion Week.
Visitors checked out Free Maison's inaugural chainmail couture collection amid New York Fashion Week.  © Averie Cole

Free Maison heats up chainmail fashion in New York

Free Maison founders Jesse Aviv (l.) and Tay Dun at the Free Maison launch event in New York City.
Free Maison founders Jesse Aviv (l.) and Tay Dun at the Free Maison launch event in New York City.  © Collage: TAG24 NEWS

With metal heating up the scene, the main question on fashionistas' minds remains: Is chainmail really comfortable enough to be worn day-to-day?

Free Maison has cleverly created accessories that can be incorporated into an everyday wardrobe – like hats, dresses, and surprisingly, chest plate "manes" (read: if the bib and chunky chain necklace trends had a statement-making baby).

"We’ve worn them on top of hoodies to go to Starbucks or on top of tuxes to go to the Metropolitan Opera," Aviv explained.

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"People always stop us to ask where we got them," Dun, Free Maison's president, added.

But the collection's pièce de résistance that really has fans talking is their chainmail handbags.

The totes, made both large and small, feature complex metal weaving borrowed from ancient times and come with shoulder straps fit for a knight of yesteryear or a night out today. To say the pieces are captivating is quite the understatement.

"The stares never stop," Aviv said.

Free Maison's launch event at One Art Space gallery in Tribeca, New York City.
Free Maison's launch event at One Art Space gallery in Tribeca, New York City.  © Averie Cole

What is chainmail, and why is the style here to stay?

Free Maison founders Jesse Aviv (l.) and Tay Dun.
Free Maison founders Jesse Aviv (l.) and Tay Dun.  © Averie Cole

Chainmail is currently trending, but it's certainly not a new fashion statement.

Taking a note from "knights and nobles in prior millennia," Free Maison has gone outside the box by weaving a story of the past while reinventing how armor is worn and used.

The creations are wearable art inspired by stories of antiquity. They're named after medieval shields, tales of the king of Sparta, combat helmets of ancient Japanese warriors, and made for "the strong and powerful."

"Every piece of our collection is made by hand using pliers, one ring at a time," Aviv said of the hours of custom work that go into each made-to-order item.

They offer a unique upgrade from the material's iron-clad history and an alternative to the hard-to-recreate head-to-toe looks seen on today's celebrities. The modern update also reflects the evolution of chainmail from the past to the present and uses that inspiration to forge ahead.

Shoppers today are "becoming more environmentally and ethically conscious," Aviv weighed in. "You're seeing a lot more vegan leather and vegan fur. Chainmail is another way to get the aesthetic hardness of leather while being incredibly sustainable. The pieces last a lifetime."

For Free Maison, the results are certainly durable, impressive, and they've made a fortified mark on haute couture. The label recently released its exclusive collection to the public. It was on display at One Art Space gallery in Tribeca last month, where fans could feel its weight – literally.

"The tote bag is totally different from any bag I've felt, even ones with metal finishes," an admirer told TAG24 as she swung the bag over her arm. "It's heavy, in a good way. I feel like a bada** warrior carrying it."

Pieces in Free Maison’s 2024 collection take between 15 and 220 hours to complete.
Pieces in Free Maison’s 2024 collection take between 15 and 220 hours to complete.  © Averie Cole

The modern-day armor has clearly won the chainmail crusade.

Cover photo: Collage: Averie Cole & Free Maison

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