Christian Joy, the eclectically artful costume designer for Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, has opened an Etsy shop and is selling her mind-bending designs to the public. She’s been doing a line of women’s clothing for the last 2 years, along with designing costumes for Spike Jonze’s film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are.
Her latest designs for women are bold and very different from what mainstream designers are offering. While her past collections have been more accessible, Christian has made a commitment to designing pieces that more accurately reflect her inner aesthetic. In this interview for tFS, she tells us more about her inspirations, her new shop, and where she sees herself going with it all.
tFS: I read that you have no formal design training. What was your inspiration for the Karen O. costumes?
CJ: Yes, I’m totally self-taught. Inspiration comes from all over, but some of my constant inspirations are David Bowie, Yoko Ono, John Waters, and the NY Punk movement. David Bowie, because of his ability to take on so many different personas. He’s able to look totally androgynous and otherworldly. Yoko Ono, because of an article I read about a piece she created in the 60’s, but then changed in the 80’s. I like the idea of a piece of artwork not being too precious to evolve – it’s not stuck. John Waters, because his humor is just so surreal and amazing, and his characters are larger than life. I also really felt inspired by him because he was a self-taught filmmaker. Finally, the NY Punk scene, because so many people were self-taught and they just went for it.
tFS: How did you end up doing the costumes for Where The Wild Things Are?
CJ: Spike asked me to create some pieces for the Urban Outfitters Pop Up Shop. At first, it was meant to be tees, but then it became the costumes. I’m really happy with the way they turned out. I made them all in about 2 weeks.
tFS: Now you’re doing an Etsy store. What led up to that? Where do you see it going?
CJ: Well I kind of did the Etsy store because it was quicker than setting up my own store, and also because I liked the DIY aesthetic of Etsy. I had many ideas for clothes, and many people were asking for stuff – and also I needed the money. I’m working on putting up an actual store on my website, though. I need an outlet for pieces that are not necessarily handmade, and also there seems to be a limited price point people are willing to pay on Etsy. The new store will be up in a week or so. But I’ll also keep the Etsy store up for more minor pieces, like scarves and tees.
tFS: You also have a regular clothing line. What’s happening for S/S 2010? Any hot trends?
CJ: I just put together 6 dresses for Spring 2010. I’m attempting a different approach to putting out collections. I had a really difficult time doing wholesale, particularly with the expectations of what a collection should look like. Production was all coming out of my pocket, and I just couldn’t keep up. Also, I wasn’t really crazy about the way the collections were turning out. So now I’m going to attempt to put out pieces that I feel like are much more ‘me’ looks that I would wear, instead of what I feel is expected. I’m keeping it small, and I want to create them more in the moment instead of creating so far ahead of time and then doing production. With the web store, I’m able to see what’s selling and then move forward with those pieces. I’m happy keeping it a little bit smaller. It keeps time open for other outlets, like costuming, as well a few new small film and photo projects I’m wokring on with a friend of mine, Tina Schula.
tFS: Where do you see the line going for F/W 2010/11?
CJ: I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I remember in the beginning someone told me to just go with the flow, and I guess I’ve tried to keep that as my mantra. I feel like whenever I try to jump ahead I fall back. So, I just just go with flow.