TALKING TO KIERA BRETTE ABOUT THE DEATH OF FASHION
Kiera Brette has been on my radar since high school. When I was a fourteen-year-old freshman just getting into fashion, Kiera was the fashion girl of Northview High School. I remember seeing her around or and at art club meetings and thinking "this is a woman who knows how to accessorize." And then, at the beginning of my budding fashion blogging career, it was announced over our high schools's PA system that Kiera was selected to attend Teen Vogue's "Fashion U." It was a prestigious happening I was both in awe of and envious of.
A decade later and Kiera has relocated to the big apple where she works as a full time accessory designer. Her work conceptualizes our bodies and our darkness and our deformities and imperfections as something beautiful. FASHION IS DYING chatted to Kiera about her ultimate muse, why fashion is dying and what's next.
FASHION IS DYING: Your designs have a really interesting range- from classic to very architectural and dark. How would you describe the person who wears your pieces?
KIERRA BRETTE: The woman who wears my work rages in age from 21-45. She's a dynamic woman who lives in a metropolitan area and has a distinct edge to her style. She prefers to live on the "Dark Side", however knows when to tone it down for a classic look. People envy her style and risk taking.
FID: Have you always wanted to be involved in fashion design?
KB: Yes! Where do I start! I have always had a love for fashion from the early age of three. My favorite story is when my mom took me to baby gap attempting to buy me some new clothes however I told her "No! thats ugly". I was three and already knew how I wanted to dress and would suffer the weather conditions to look good. Imagine a 4-year-old in Long Island in a white slip dress and ruby slippers in the middle of February with at least 7 inches of snow on the ground.
I got my first sewing machine a 5. It was little white and blue kid Signer. I would set it up next to my moms machine and would "sew" with her. I'm so grateful my started me so young with sewing. By the time I was 10 I knew I wanted to be in fashion. I told my parents that I was going to become a designer and go to art show and have an apartment in Gramercy Park with a key to the park. Dreaming big for a 10 year old! I would sketch clothing designs and would look at garments I wanted and couldn't afford yet I somehow figured out how to make them.
I went to college at Savannah College of Art and Design with the mind set of Majoring in Fashion Design with a double minor in Accessory Design and Jewelry and Metals. (another crazy idea/ dream of finishing all of that in 4 years) After starting my second year I was in my first core apparel class and also taking my first accessory design class. While taking both these classes I realized i was gravitating more towards accessory design. Even my apparel design professor said " you are so good yet look so unhappy." When she said this I knew I had to follow my gut feeling. The next day I officially changed my major to Accessory Design with minor in Metals and Jewelry. What makes this change so special to me is that my Great Grandfather was a shoemaker. It was almost like I was made to carry on the family tradition. The rest is history. I moved back to NYC a week after graduation and haven't left. I work for a footwear design company full time but work on my own stuff whenever I get the chance.
FID: I love that you design bold, almost over-the-top pieces (like the oversized ring and your headpieces.) What’s your inspiration when creating something more avant-garde?
KB: I take a lot of inspiration from science and nature. I have a huge love and fascination with the human body and bone structure of almost anything to the point that I went and got my taxidermy license just to learn about the process. From birth defects, decaying objects, x-rays, cells of bacteria anything slightly creepy and disturbing intrigue and inspires me.
FID: Who are some of your muses?
KB: My dream muse is Michele Lamy. Her attitude of not giving a single fuck and taking risk is what a love about her. Besides that fact that she is 74 with gold and diamond teeth, what more could you ask for.
I all so love Daphne Guinness and Wendy Nichols. Both have very dark ascetics yet still know when to tone it down when need. Also I seec my friend Emilie Sobel as a muse. She was one if the first people I trusted and loaned my pieces too. She's a huge risk taker with fashion. You can constantly find her in a leather motto and booties but knows when to add a femme touch.
FID: Is fashion dying?
KB: Absolutely. It breaks my heart to say that but its a statement that becomes more true everyday. It kills me that nobody is original anymore or pulls inspiration organically. Everyone just knocks each other off. When researching for work everything looks the same. I don't get the excitement/ butterfly feeling anymore when I look at collections or what is in stores. I think the main thing that is killing our industry is fast fashion. I constantly have this discussion with friends. I understand the convince of stores like Zara, ASOS, H&M, how ever there product is made to fall apart and made for you to go back and just spend more money (besides there work ethics which is a whole other issue). I loved when I was little and my mom would tell me one day this piece will be yours, whether it was a pair of shoes, a handbag or jewelry.
That feeling you get knowing a product is so well made you can pass it down its amazing. I've recently started to force myself to buy more investment pieces that I will have for a long time. Knowing that is well made and I might get to pass it down is so fulfilling. I am also buying a lot more vintage pieces.
FID: What’s next?
KB: I'm currently working on a collection that is part two of my senior thesis collection which was called Structural Mutation. Its based on the birth defects and deformities of the human body. The collection was mostly grey and black with a slight hint of this scientific green. It focused more on the bone structure of the body. This collection is pushing me. Its a lot of nudes, whites and soft pinks but now focusing on the organs. Im really excited to finish it and show it to the world.