The crystal-obsessed artist, whose real name is Vincent Michael Braccia, has become the go-to guy for stars in need of a showy ensemble. He’s created glittery ensembles for Lizzo, Doja Cat, and drag queens including Violet Chachki and Aquaria. It’s easy to see why he draws in the big names: His disco-influenced designs are completely covered in colorful stones, begging to have a spotlight shined on them.
Braccia officially launched his label in 2017, but his love of flashy design goes way back. He was actually a professional dancer before getting into design full-time, something he attributes for inspiring the line. Originally from Staten Island, he studied ballet and classical dance, and remembers being infatuated with dance costumes from an early age. “When I was young, I was fortunate to go to a studio that had custom beaded and sequined costumes. It was my favorite part of going, even though I couldn't wear it-the girls had all the gorgeous costumes,” he says. “As a little gay boy in Staten Island, I was like, ‘Oh, hell no.’ I started going to Michaels and buying packs of rhinestones, and gluing them to my costume.”
As Braccia got older, he became even more fascinated with stage wear and in awe of the greats like Bob Mackie. Eventually he became inspired to create clothes, too. “In high school, I would rhinestone girls’s graduation caps for money, and I would do cheerleading uniforms,” he says. When he moved to L.A. to pursue dance, his crystal work picked up momentum-especially when he started working with drag queens. “The way the fashion world is now, it’s all about minimalism and who can wear the least amount of sparkle,” Braccia says. “But I’m really gunning for something completely different, and a lot of drag queens gravitate towards that style, too.”
One of the first drag superstars Braccia started working with is his friend, Violet Chachki, who he met on tour as a dancer. They now often collaborate on her vampy, Old Hollywood-style outfits. Another personal highlight of his was earlier this year, when The Disco Daddy made a custom Swarovski bodysuit for Lizzo’s Grammys performance. “I did her costume, her boots, and all the dancers’s [costumes],” Braccia says. “That was one of my biggest accomplishments.” He says his shimmering designs lend themselves to these types of big events. “It adds an element to a performance that is necessary,” he says. “I don't know if I would call it performance wear, but it's definitely for someone who’s not trying to be subtle.”
This fall, however, Braccia also branched out from his VIP work to do something for himself. He released a new campaign that showcases seven original designs, enlisting friends like Chachki to model the custom, one-off pieces for him. “I wanted to show what I can do, instead of what people want me to do,” he says. The capsule takes cues from disco music, of course-his favorite genre (he even has Donna Summer tattooed on his ribcage. “I wanted to do a modern take on Studio 54,” he says. “Disco is the intersection of nightlife, queer culture, sexual liberation, and glamour-all things that were lacking this year.” Braccia himself even stars in the campaign as his Disco Daddy alter-ego, who comes out to play when he’s going out or shooting imagery for the brand. “There's such a separation between Vince and the Disco Daddy,” he says. “Everyday me, going to Trader Joe’s, I'm wearing black-but if I'm going to the club, it has to be extravagant.”
The designer says he released the new collection-including dresses, bodysuits, and more-to show that working with crystals doesn’t have to mean bedazzling something. It can be its own standalone textile. “I don't really like the aspect of rhinestones to embellish or make something better,” he says. “I like creating something with the intention of it being fully rhinestones, like a glass piece of art on your body.” He estimates that there’s over half a million rhinestones on the pieces collectively, and he glued down each crystal by hand-a painstaking method he always practices. “Most people will just put a whole bunch of glue and rhinestones down, but it makes the fabric stiff,” he says. “It looks better when it moves. I want people to dance in it, have fun, and not be restricted.” As for his crystal of choice? “I try my hardest to use only Swarovski,” he says. “My biggest complaint is how expensive it is-but that's what I love about it.”
A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.