Los Angeles-based designer Brian Lichtenberg has made a name for himself by borrowing from other people’s names, so to speak. His tongue-in-cheek casual designs play off brand names like Céline, Hermès, Gucci, Chanel, and more, turning the words into less snooty iterations: Féline, Homiés, Bucci, Brianel, and so on.
Last summer there was some discussion over whether or not Lichtenberg’s designer parody pieces were even legal—so we sat down with him at his New York Fashion Week Fall 2014 presentation to hash out how he gets away with appropriating the logos, terminology, and general ethos of so many major brands.
StyleCaster: Have any of the brands you parody ever threatened to bring legal action against you?
Brian Lichtenberg: Thankfully, no. Actually, all the spins we do, all the plays on the brands, it’s always in a good light. It’s never trashing or bashing them, it’s always an admiration thing. It’s always like my love for the brand is why I chose to do it.
The response is positive as well; a friend of mine works at the Céline showroom in Paris. The last time he was in L.A., he was like I need to buy [Féline] stuff for me and all my coworkers; it’s so awesome when I hear that, it’s like okay cool, they get it. They appreciate it, they love it.
SC: Wait, so does that mean all the Céline showroom people are wearing Féline sweatshirts?
BL: I wonder if they wear it! Even when I go into the Hermes store on Rodeo Drive, we see people coming in day in day out wearing Homiés.
SC: So why do you think your brand has become so well-loved amongst your followers?
BL: I think people appreciate the humorous aspect of it, and that it’s not taken too seriously. The spins that I’ve done on the brands—I chose those brands because they’re actually brands that I admire, like, and wear, so it’s cool to see other customers who are fans of the brand incorporate those into their wardrobe. They’ll wear the Homiés hoodie with their Hermès Birkin bag, or they’ll wear their Féline sweatshirt with their little mini Nano tote. They fuse the two and they can wear the both of them together. It shows an admiration of the brand and the label, and this love for luxury, branding, and all that.
SC: So what big brands are you going to take on next?
BL: I feel like we’re always trying something new and going in a different direction for any graphics. This season, we’re doing kind of this motocross thing, a Southern California throwback to motocross sports, this white trash vibe. Marlboro becomes Lichtenboro, and there are some spins on other racing brands that will be in the collection as well.