Finding, Creating and Sharing Beauty
By Meredith Corning
Rhianna is the executive producer of a new reality competition series called Styled to Rock, which combines pop culture and fashion. The show is aired on Friday, October 25th at 8PM ET/PT on the Bravo network. The show is said to feature celebrity guests such as Kid Cudi, Miley Cyrus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Khloé Kardashian, Kylie Minogue, Kelly Osbourne, The Band Perry, Naya Rivera, Big Sean, Nervo and Ne-Yo.
According to the press release, “Each week, the designers will be presented with a different challenge, each aimed at creating a new look to define the celebrity guest’s image, and in turn battle it out in the sewing room. However, only half of the contestants selected by the mentors will get to showcase their new design for the client and have a shot at winning. The other half will be placed up for elimination. The stakes are high because the grand prize is life-changing: $100,000 cash, a fashion feature in Glamour magazine and the chance to become the next member of Rihanna’s design team.”
Now that you are done filming, what are your thoughts about being on the show?
Being on the show was one of the most personally challenging experiences of my life; I really stretched myself beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. It was amazing to be chosen for this show and to be mentored by Pharrell Williams, Mel Ottenberg and Erin Wasson; I consider all of their words to me to be as precious as gold.
Tell me about your design aesthetic and also about your fabric selection.
My design aesthetic is very edgy and avant-garde. My signature designs are created entirely of zippers, which creates a very sculptural, fashion forward look.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I had always really been fascinated by the idea of art on the body, but I was actually studying abroad in Florence, Italy, when I first became really inspired to create fashion. I was there studying fine art and textile and I found myself mesmerized by the beautiful clothing I saw in Italy. When I returned to the U.S., I decided that I wanted to devote my life to fashion.
Are your future plans to make it big in the custom design market or do you want to mass produce for retail? How will you achieve that goal?
I am actually doing both right now, I have two labels, Autumnlin Atelier, which is my one-of-a-kind zipper couture and Heartless Revival, which is my ready-to-wear. I find that in fashion, you have to be versatile in order to succeed.
Reality TV and fashion design…do the two work well together?
I think they do, there is a lot of drama in fashion with or without cameras.
In what ways is it different designing for a celebrity as opposed to your everyday client?
When designing for celebrity clients, I really have to take these aspects into close consideration: their life, their needs, their comfort level, what events they are attending, what projects they are work on, how they feel and what people’s perception of them will be, all while staying stylish, expressive and fashion forward. Celebrities are always in the public eye and under constant scrutiny for every decision. While I take many things into consideration for the everyday client, normally people don’t have to worry about their outfit being front page news or on an online poll about whether people loved it or hated it.
Do you think Styled to Rock is a better platform for designers than Project Runway? Why?
I feel that Styled to Rock is a more realistic platform than Project Runway. This is real, the celebrity clients are judging our talent for real project for real events. This is a real opportunity to make a name for myself doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing, designing for rockstars, and getting to share my journey with everyone.
Aside from anything Styled to Rock related, what other upcoming events do you plan on participating in to get your label out there?
I recently just had a life changing event when Cher wore my white zipper corset in her new video,“Woman’s World,” so I look forward to pursuing new opportunities in that direction. In addition to my new collection presentation (which I’m currently working on), I have several events in Philadelphia including First Friday at Kaleidoscope Boutique in Old City on Friday, November 1st. My most exciting projects/events are still in the works! I have an upcoming collaboration with Laura Pulice, the Laxtex Goddess from the show, an exciting photoshoot with Megan Massacre from NY Ink and a secret project I just started work on this week.
How important is it for a designer to have a celebrity wear their designs?
It’s extraordinarily important for a designer to have celebs wearing their designs! There is no better platform than have a trend-setting A-lister showing off a designer’s latest creation. Celebs can really make a designer known to the world in an instant and can make a designer’s entire career.
Besides the old adage, “follow your dreams,” what really practical advice would you give emerging designers? What has worked best for you to propel your business?
I always tell emerging designers if that’s what you want to do, go for it, but be prepared to work really, really, really hard and never stop. It’s also important to connect with the right people, knowing one important person can open every door that you need. Most importantly designers really need to have faith in themselves and their vision. They really have to have something original to say with their work, the endurance to see it come to fruition and the connections and clientele to keep it alive.