Taping a risk! Models bare all as they walk the runway wearing nothing but body tape at New York Fashion Week
A designer showing during New York Fashion Week led models down the runway wearing nothing but a belt.
Joel Alvarez, creator of the Black Tape Project, presented his racy Fall 2024 collection, powered by Art Hearts Fashion, at the Angel Orensanz Foundation yesterday.
Not for the faint-hearted, the flesh-flashing range is made entirely of waistband, in shades of black, neon green and baby pink, leaving very little to the imagination.
Alvarez, who was born and raised in Miami, worked with numerous celebrities such as Billy Ray Cyrus and Afrojack, as well as big nightclubs in Miami and Ibiza.
However, the first-generation Cuban-American didn’t always lead such a high-profile lifestyle, having previously ‘lived out of his car’ for months without ‘a dollar to his name’.
A model walks the runway during the Black Tape Project fashion show at New York Fashion Week yesterday
Models with a variety of bodies, fresh from Alvarez, confidently walked the runway at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Sunday.
The women revealed plenty of skin, flaunting corsets strategically placed to cover their modesty.
Stripes of black, neon green, white and iridescent baby pink decorated their shapes and accentuated their natural curves.
Certain parts of the strap were intricately made into ‘mosaics’, forming a unique cut top and monokini.
Meanwhile, other designs emulated bandage-inspired bodysuits and underwear sets.
Alvarez’s unique concept has allowed him to travel to 42 countries and work with numerous magazines, including Maxim and Playboy.
In 2008, Alvarez was living in his car and struggling to feed himself in what he described as ‘the lowest point of his existence’.
The raucous show, powered by Art Hearts Fashion, was hosted at The Angel Orensanz Foundation in New York City
The flashy range is made entirely of waistband, leaving little to the imagination
Joel Alvarez, creator of the Black Tape Project, could be seen taping a model during the show
He said that most of his family had passed away, but he had inherited a ‘small run-down property’ which was ‘not fit for habitation’.
The designer continued: ‘The house smelled like a wet dog. It had pink water that would come out of the tub when I flushed the toilet and there were holes in the roof the size of a microwave.
“I mean, I could literally see the sky from the living room. I fell to my knees and I looked up at the night sky and cried. I asked what I had done to be dragged so low into the ground?’
But while cleaning out the residence, he miraculously discovered a box in the closet containing $26,000.
He found out the money belonged to his late grandfather, who had put it away for a rainy day in the late 60s but had never spent it.
“After many years of what I considered to be “the most difficult era” of my life, I quickly put the funds to work in hopes of clearing my debt and turning my life around,” he continued.
‘First I put in a new roof and paid off the Ford Focus I was living in. I had a little party and gave money to my family and friends.
“When you’re young, that amount of money seems like a fortune, but I soon realized that $26,000 wouldn’t last long in this day and age.”
Certain parts of the tape were intricately made into ‘mosaics’, forming a unique cutting surface
This bandage-inspired bodysuit features narrow strips of black tape wrapped around the body
He said he spent his last $1,500 to buy a camera, which eventually launched his career as a fashion designer.
Using his new camera, Alvarez began photographing some of the women who worked at his local Hooters, before connecting with Miami-based models over Myspace.
Within months, he was published in local magazines and continued to work his way up the ladder, eventually shooting for major outlets like Maxim and Playboy—still using the original Canon he bought with his grandfather’s money.
‘One day an out-of-town model booked me for a shoot and on our last look she pulled out a roll of tape and asked me to tape her up,’ he explained.
‘I had no idea where to start or what she expected. So I just jumped in head first and started sticking her.
‘The design was so incomplete and extremely tight. She looked like the Michelin man who lost a fight with rubber bands.
“But I kept at it because I kept seeing lines and I found the ability to compliment the body by adding lines and creating negative spaces that called out to the viewers.”
From there, Alvarez began working with local dancers at Miami clubs, explaining that he began working “three or four nights a week” to record up to six women.
“I had to work quickly and make designs that didn’t fall apart when they danced, which is where I developed most of my techniques,” he continued.
Within a few years, the designer found himself launched to viral fame when he worked on a photo shoot with a former Miss Puerto Rico at a charity event in 2017.
Alvarez decked her out in a gold band ensemble – a process he documented in a social media video, which quickly racked up tens of millions of viewers and earned him a new legion of fans.
“The calls and emails started pouring in and my life changed again,” he recalls.
‘It’s safe to say that The Black Tape Project saved my life and now I can provide for my family, my circle and myself.’
Alvarez now thrives in the spotlight — charging fans $999 a pop for VIP experiences at his shows
Now, Alvarez has become a staple at New York Fashion Week, regularly wowing the crowd with his incredibly daring band ensembles.
He turned his fashion week appearances into a profitable business, selling tickets to his shows for up to $999 a piece for a VIP backstage experience.
The designer also sells rolls of his signature waistband in a variety of colors on his website.
The most basic black tint starts at $9.99 a roll, while the more vibrant options — including metallic gold, blue and pink — cost up to $29.99 each.
But Alvarez doesn’t limit his art form to just runway models.
He was previously invited to Vienna to take on legendary supercars – the Ferrari 488 Spider and Lamborghini Urus – at the Gumball 3000 street rally.
A neon green look incorporated small pieces of tape to create a monokini effect
Not for the faint-hearted, a series of flashy looks were presented during New York Fashion Week
It was there that he won the award for Best Wrap Design before being offered a collaboration with Lamborghini of Miami to record the Miami Art Basel debut of the 2020 Karma Revero 2.0.
Speaking about his journey in an interview shared to Instagram, Alvarez said: ‘I’ve always been more of an artist than a businessman.
‘And now I’m a very good businessman because I learned the hard way.
‘I remember my friends telling me you should take off your artist hat and put on your business hat…
“But I don’t want to stop being an artist and I don’t want to change who I am and the way I think my passion comes from my art and the way I am comes a lot from the past that I have not. passed through’.