THE GLAMOROUS FANTASY OF THE ART OF LUST CULT
Natalee Miller's art is a big mood. It will make you want to sip on something tropical while hanging out in a yacht in Miami and smoking a joint. The artist, who goes by Lust Cult, creates dreamy goddesses with a keen sense of glamour. Power dressing, if you will. Her women waltz in a world of watercolor lavenders, fuchsias and sea foams and they exude BDE. They sport angular bobs and wear towels in their hair. They have a soul of their own.
Inspired by her dreams and nostalgia, Natalee weaves magick into all of her creations, reflecting on what was, and the liminal space our mind exists in while in other planes of existence. FASHION IS DYING talked to the artist about how her mother is her ultimate muse, creating the Amenti Oracle, and what outfit she wants to spend the rest of her afterlife in.
INSIDE THE GLAMOUR OF LUST CULT
FASHION IS DYING: One of the reasons I'm such a big fan of your art is because you have such a distinct style. All the ladies you draw are SO GLAM. Have they always been like this? How have you come into your style of art?
LUST CULT: Thank you! Its so funny, I didn’t even see them as glam until recently but I think they always sort of have been. My mom is my main muse. She was the QUEEN of the navy blue smoky eye and blush. I used to sit and watch her and my aunt do their makeup, just to sit by the pool. And their hair was always on point, or in a towel. Everyone I draw is kind of my mom in some way, and also they're all who I kind of want to be. Graceful, glamorous and charismatic. There was a time in my teens when I drew these scrawny sickly girls, and that was obviously a reflection of my own body issues but now the women dominate the page, like all the women in my early life did.
FID: I know you love the '80s — can you tell us a bit about how this (or any other era) inspires you and your art?
LC: Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, my parents were working class, so I spent a lot of time at work with my mom, who was a hairdresser and seamstress. I was just constantly surrounded by fashion magazines, sewing patterns, prom and wedding portraits, and of course Patrick Nagel posters. When we’d come home, I would watch MTV with my older brothers and draw. I remember videos and 80’s/90’s commercials like people remember childhood movies. A-Ha’s “Take On Me” video blew my mind and made me cry (it still does). I didn't realize until recently how much this all affected my style. Its very “design.” I was fascinated by commercials and logos. I feel gross saying it, but there was something kind of magical about the art of advertising then. The excess and cheesy sexuality of that era is just so comforting to me. I love the late 70’s and the 90’s too. Its all about ressurecting the best parts of my life for me.
FID: What parts of the fashion world do you draw inspiration from?
LC: I’m really feeling the celebration of diversity in the modelling world lately. Theres a difference between traditional beauty and charisma, and I love when I stumble upon someone who just owns the photo, regardless of their body type, gender, skin tone — whatever. We still have a long way to go but we’re getting there. Give me unique over “hot” any day.
But the process of creation fascinates and inspires me most. I wish I could look inside every designer, hair or makeup artists brain and see the crazy confetti of inspiration that was distilled down to create one look, or one design. An entire collection can spring from the line of a song, or a childhood memory, and thats so beautiful and cool. I'm very grateful for artists who are brave enough to bring an idea to fruition, even if its completely ridiculous or seemingly irrelevant. It makes me want to chase every idea I have and bring it to life.
FID: Your work, like mine, is at the intersection of fashion and mysticism, but through art. Can you tell me about how your spiritual practices inspire your artistic ones?
LC: Even though as a kid, I spent every free second drawing, I actually stopped making anything for over ten years because I was drinking and doing drugs and was generally uninspired. When I picked it back up again, I didnt really know where to begin, so I started drawing stylized tarot cards, which I was learning at the time. It gave me a template to follow when I wasn't sure what to do. In doing that, I found a little space in the spiritual community, but over the past two years I realized that the process is what's spiritual for me. I don't have to draw mystical things for it to affect me. A lot of images come to me in dreams or when im spacing out and they manifest in my brain and i cannot even get on with my day until I sketch them out. Those moments make me feel connected to my real self, even if the result isn't that great. When I was a kid, before overthinking and self doubt was a thing for me, I just drew what I dreamed about. I drew characters and “looks” that embodied what I felt, what I wanted in myself and my life. I think my work is very nostalgic because I am a nostalgic person, and ultimately I'm trying to tap into the the same kind of pure creative flow i had as a kid.
FID: How would you describe your personal style? What's your dream ghost outfit? (AKA what do you want to spend the afterlife wearing!)
LC: Oh my god, I love this question. My personal style changes a lot so I don't really know, but I'm 6 feet tall and it's really important to me to finally own that and stop trying to be small. I've been really into platforms and blazers and not giving a fuck about taking up space. Anything with strong shoulders and a plunging v neck. I wouldn't mind haunting someone in a vintage Halston gown. But i mean if this is truly eternal, I want to be in a stark white bathrobe with a gold belt, gold earrings, slicked back hair and a bold red lip.
FID: Is fashion dying?
LC: No way! I refuse to be one of those people who hates everything that comes after them. The younger generations are amazing. They’re both creating and adapting to a world that didn’t exist 40 years ago. They are blending virtual and physical reality to express the experiences of their lives. Sometmes I don't get it, but why would I? I can still appreciate it. I'm not even mad about AI models and celebrities. I think it's insane and I cant believe I’m alive to witness this evolution but Im here for it and I'm grateful cause it's so innovative, even if it freaks me out a little. The left and the right sides of the brain are working together in a completely new way, and bizzare and beautiful things are coming out of it! The world will always feel crazy, and there will always be people out there that cannot exist without creating, as a means of survival — thats where the good shit comes from. Those are the people I want to be around. Those people will always keep art and fashion alive.
FID: Do you have a favorite fashion designer? Photographer? Illustrator?
LC: Halston (vintage), obviously. His lines were so seductive and elegant. Evan Isoline and Ben Marcus are my fave illustrators right now. Signe Pierce, Pilar Zeta, Ariana Papademetropoulos, Vanessa Vanya, Yoko Honda, Aleia, Kristen Liu-Wong. So many more. People that do it all and can't be confined to one medium. Some people I look up to don't even have names, just a faceless handle. I dont even know who I’m looking at sometimes, but I love it.
FID: What's next?
LC: Im working on a very lux and mystical soft goods interior line with Brian Sawyer from Studio HEX- BS. He’s got an amazing eye and aesthetic! Next year Amenti Oracle is being released, which is a deck I illustrated for my good friend and brilliant author/creator Jennifer Sodini. A few collabs I can't say much about yet. I'm really into set design and art direction lately and want to continue on that path too! I have my hand in so many pots, i'm kind of terrified but its what makes it exciting. I want to ride that line forever and do it all!