Really Cool Artist: Crowned Bird

One year ago, I wrote an annoying little essay about how I don’t believe in blindly supporting Art with a capital A. I believe in voting with your dollar and supporting art that is truly good, and if that means skipping the occasional night of spoken word in favor of staying home and reading Borges, so be it. But I’ve decided to start practicing what I preach because nature abhors a hypocritical vacuum, know wha’m saying? Welcome to my new series, cleverly titled “Really Cool Artist,” in which I interview (=flatter) an amazing independent artist in an attempt to psychoanalyze their genius, improve my own creative karma, and introduce you all to people who are doing things that are fascinating, beautiful, and very cool.

Priscilla of Crowned Bird may not know this, but she was the inspiration for this series. I found her fashion line through a series of random internet clicks, and I fell in love with the shapes and colors and fabrics of her dreamy, imaginative lookbook. Her visual aesthetic is exquisite, and since she was kind enough to answer my manic questions, you’ll see that her mental aesthetic (is that a thing?) is just as cool. If you’re inspired by her creative swagger, please flit over to her Kickstarter account and dive into your weekly coffee budget to support her dream.

Tell me a little bit about your (gorgeous amazing must-have-it-all) collection.

My launch collection for fall is what I consider my idealized dreamworld. I wanted to design a brand for like-minded ladybirds of my generation, a select group of people who are always looking towards the past in order to relate to our current lifestyles. I designed it for those of us who use our spare time to rummage through vintage stores and flea markets. It’s as though we need nostalgia to feel at home, to feel unique. I enjoy being surrounded by treasures that not everyone can have, but anyone can enjoy. I wanted to design a collection that summed up all those values.

Was there a specific moment when you decided that this was your dream and you had to pursue it now

Honestly, my true moment came very recently, but it was one of those inherent traits that has been with me my whole life. I just woke up one regular Monday and decided this was the day that I was going to change my direction. I had to be my own catalyst. So I put in my two weeks at the interior design house I was working for, subletted my house fully furnished (including my cat), and took off to Dallas to finish my sample run production and set myself up for building a brand. Sometimes in life you have to make that choice to do more for yourself and just run with it, stay true to that decision, and inspire yourself so that you can inspire others. It’s the only way to live and I wasted a lot of time before now. I turned 30 and could literally hear the ticking of the clock. It was just time.

What’s inspiring you right now?

High-waisted separates. I love mixing up the collection with tattered old tees I could never wear before because I cut them too short or a cropped lace top from the thrift store that I can rock with the Hawkers pants. I’ll wear it for days.

What’s a typical day in your life like?

Lately, there are not a lot of typical days. Since I’ve spent so much time traveling to get the lookbook together, shooting videos for the collection, interviewing potential sales reps, emailing bloggers, and busting out my Kickstarter, nothing is typical. Every day is another chance to evolve more. In this process, I am becoming what I am to be. I’m finally prepared for the reality that no day will be the same as the next.

Do you have any rituals when you’re designing?

Some of my friends consider me an ingenue of sorts, like the next Chanel (which of course is a lot to live up to)—but I can relate to her in many ways, as far as her design process. She created things out of a distaste for everything else. For instance, I created the Pygmy Short Shorts because there wasn’t anything out there that had the specific shape I wanted. I was looking for high-wasted elastic with a bottom that covered my butt completely. It just didn’t exist, so I made it. In floral. Chanel never sketched before she created (neither do I), she dressed herself first (as do I), and she draped garments with a cigarette in her mouth (on occasion). I usually get inspired very quickly and don’t spend a lot of time mulling over ideas. I know what I want to make and if it doesn’t turn out that way exactly, it’ll turn out that better than I expected. Like any artist performing organically, it just happens. You know it’s good when you get lost in it and forget to eat, turn on music, or leave the house.

 If you could dress someone famous (alive or dead), who would it be?

Miss Audrey Hepburn. She defined an era that captured my heart. Many hearts.

If someone gave you $20 and set you loose in a thrift store, which section would you head to first?

I LOVE this question! Well, as a thrifting connoisseur and lover of all things old, I’ll give away one of my best kept secrets. I go straight to the suiting section for a good 2-for-1 deal, and I alter anything that doesn’t fit the shape I want. What I love to do is take 80’s wrap dress suits, cut the string, and turn the shape into an oversized jacket. Then I change up the bottom, be it skirt or pant, and make it modern—or at least well fit. I’m usually inspired by the quality of old fabrics, which makes the effort of finding goods timeless in itself.

Lace or neon?

Neon lace, haha! (I like to dye it.)

Heels or flats?

Heels—they perk up the booty.

Pick a color to describe your personality:

Turquoise. I’m a moonchild so it definitely compliments my mood the best. I’m also Turkish, and turquoise actually means “Turkish Stone.”

Can we find your clothes in stores yet? When/where can we get our hands on them?

Crowned Bird Fall 2012 will hit the stores in September. Right now, we have just launched and are preparing for the LA Market FOCUS trade show in June–stay tuned for more info about online stores and your local boutiques carrying the line. But I do have one specific place in mind that you can count on: Nordstrom.

If you had a protégé, what would you tell her?

Don’t bother following trends because the best aesthetic is the one you can only pull off yourself (you’ll know this because people always say, “I could never wear that, but it looks great on you!”).

If you were stranded on a desert island but there was a really cute dude also stranded on the island, which piece from your collection would you choose to be shipwrecked in, in order to make the very best first impression? (Note: you’re also marooned with a chest full of gold and a bottle of rum.)

I’d have to go with the Pygmy Short Shorts. It covers my belly but shows off my legs. Just how I like it.

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