Monday, October 24, 2011

Designer Q&A: Kelli Martin

We caught up with Designer, HighBall Alumnus, and former Project Runway contestant Kelli Martin to talk about her design aesthetic, and what we can expect from her return to this year's event on the runway.  Dish!

Photo: Anti.Label
Photog: James Hayden
Model: Mandalynn Rea

How did you get into the world of fashion?

It probably started with Cyndi Lauper…from when I was 7-years-old. My grandparents raised me and let me dress how I wanted and paint my nails black and basically let me dress up like a little Cyndi Lauper. That’s really how it all started…My dad would let me put makeup on him and put ponytails in his hair.  It was so much fun. 

How would you describe your design aesthetic? 

Pretty ugly..that’s really the best description. I use a lot of contrast.  The name of my line, Anti-Label…it is kind of a contradiction in itself. When I started I was 19 and I moved to LA. With my line, I wanted to poke fun at the whole fashion world.  Of course it is still couture, its just higher end looking street style…I have feminine silhouettes but with an edge…ruffles with raw edges, silks that are tattered and died. I know that’s kind of the thing now but its what I’ve been doing for 10 years now.

What are you using as inspiration for the work you’ll be showing at HighBall?

I guess my inspiration is the transformation of fashion through time. That’s how I interpreted transformation. My HighBall final look will be the blending of all tribes, if you will. Kind of a combination of my three looks of fashion over time combined into this futuristic piece.  Its going to be vintage, mixed with couture, mixed with modern, and futuristic if that makes sense. I’m just trying to stick to what I do and stick to the couture Halloween costume.


What are some of your major design influences? 

Definitely music…That’s definitely one of the things. A lot of musicians from the 50’s through the 80’s, a lot of it is probably from the late 70’s punk scene.  London and New York. In the beginning, Vivianne Westwood was my major influence. You know, she started that whole style with the sex shop and everything. I don’t really have a designer that I strive to be like because I’m a little bit A.D.D. and really strive to be different. I guess right now I am on a little Rodarte kick. I like their use of textures. The street is a major influence.  People-watching is so fun…you know, I moved to LA and people there are crazy, but lunatics are everywhere here.

Who are you wearing RIGHT NOW? 

Haha. Some weird designer….lets see, Karen Millan from England. I don’t know what it is I just found it at Plato’s Closet and totally loved it and had to have it, this t-shirt is Old Navy, jeans are from a thrift store, boots might be from Target.  I haven’t worn any of my own stuff lately because everything I make I sell…back in the day everything I wore was garter belts and fishnets and piled on and crazy but that was another time and place! 

If you could design an outfit for a celebrity to wear on the red carpet who would you want
to dress and why? 

Ok I have an embarrassing one: Kristen Stewart…I’m a secret Twilight fan. I know she’s still young but she seems like she has a level head. Like, she doesn’t take shit and doesn’t give a shit and that’s a true rebellious attitude and I like that about her.
Dream Woman/Wife : Charlize Theron: shes statuesque and beautiful and I would love to design a beautiful garment for her
True Ultimate Dream: Cindy Lauper. She is the epitome of fashion to me, way above Madonna. She sold herself with fashion and music and not sex and that’s awesome.

Where do you see yourself and your career in five years? 

Um really I guess doing what I’m doing now. I’m basically doing what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I chose to live in Columbus. I enjoy the people, the awesome house with little overhead, its so much more laid back and that’s how I am. LA really is what people think it is if you’re in the fashion industry.  I like it here. I really want to be a part of the community because I plan on staying here. Right now I need to regain my online presence because doing the whole stupid reality television thing with Project Runway, I lost my online presence for a few years.  I lost a lot of my customers. You know, they grew up, their tastes changed.  But this is what I want to do.  I can sew in my pajamas and be with my cats all day. I’m busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way…at least its on my terms.

What do you think separates a costume from regular clothing? 

I feel like there’s definitely a fine line. Couture fashion is different than ready-to-wear. Some ready-to-wear fashion is insane today. The fine line is usually fabrication, and the expensive quality look. You know, it can be gaudy and over-the-top as a ready-to-wear garment if it goes into a theme….if its not a replica of something that is a costume. You could easily have two ideas next to each costume and one ready-to-wear.  For the ready-to-wear, you need to keep it true to itself without watering it down but know what elements to pick and choose while still making it wearable to the usual person.

What’s the best way for fans of your work to keep tabs on you or even purchase some of
your pieces?

Facebook and my website would probably be the best. I sell on etsy too but I’m trying to rebuild the website and get people going there, not just take the easy route. I also list on ebay random stuff here and there. I’m all over the place. I’m trying to be.  

To see Kelli's work at the live runway show, be sure to be at HighBall on Friday the 28th!