We first discovered Renee Olstead on the ABC Family favorite The Secret Life of the American Teenager. What we didn’t know is that she’s a trained jazz vocalist and a complete fashion aficionado. It was only natural that she started to contribute for us, and today we’re bringing you her latest: an exclusive interview with Audrey Kitching (above). Audrey is a pink-haired fashion designer of Tokyolux and Coco de Coeur, blogger and model who has made her presence known thanks to the majestic world of social media. See what she had to say below!
Renee Olstead: What was your style like as a teenager?
Audrey Kitching: My style as a teenager was kind of crazy and all over the place. I went through a very dark rebellious punk phase and rode a BMX and skateboarded. Think multicolored hair (before it was accepted) bullet belts, lots of black and grey skater shoes, and I really liked hot pink eye shadow! We all need to do some experimenting while growing up.
RO: How did you get started designing?
AK: I have been making my own clothing since I was very young. When I was little, my mom made a lot of my outfits so I guess I was brought up thinking that was the natural thing to do! As I got older people started asking me where I got the clothing I was wearing, which I had made. It just happened organically. I never thought I could be a designer cause I couldn’t afford to go to a fashion school. At some point I was like, “Screw this! I can be a designer just like anyone else!”
RO: Where do you find inspiration for your line?
AK: EVERYWHERE. I always say that and people are so confused. I’m so easily inspired by everything… flowers on the highway, teacups at vintage shops, movies, books, magazines. The Internet is pretty amazing — I find some brilliant things on tumblr and fashion sites!
RO: What items of clothing could you not live without?
AK: I’m a comfort queen so I would have to say big sunglasses, tons of vintage chunky rings, boots, thick heels, ballet flats, tights, oversized t-shirts and sweaters and big shaggy winter coats! I wear leggings, skirts and tights everyday… I don’t own a pair of jeans! Crazy, I know.
RO: What’s on the horizon for you and your line?
AK: I’m planning to showcase at the WWD MAGIC/PROJECT trade shows in Vegas this fall. I have always focused on retail but we are doing the full scale wholesale run. This is actually more exciting because I can create more unique pieces because I have a 6 month window to get my sample making done!
RO: What’s your favorite piece that you’ve ever designed?
AK: I love my black oversized cat eye pullover. It’s so comfy and looks amazing — you can dress it up or lounge around the house in it. I love clothing that is versatile like that. Very important for someone with my schedule!
RO: What came first? Modeling or designing?
AK: Professionally, the modeling. I have always been designing but not as a career until recently. I started out modeling doing things like JCPenney weekend circular ads. Over time, it evolved into me doing it for more of the creative aspect. I art direct and style 99% of everything I shoot. That’s really what I get hired for these days. When a brand wants to work with me they want the works! I’m not just a model who shows up in a t-shirt and does what I’m told. I kind of run the show as far as concepts, location, style and design. I love it, there is so much creativity and freedom.
RO: What’s your favorite photoshoot memory?
AK: My first shoot for headshots ever in NYC! I must have been 15 or 16 with my mom at this studio. They were playing this Mary J. Blige song on repeat for hours and it was making me nuts. I was so nervous and they had my makeup very natural and the clothing was very fairy-like and a little see through with a huge fan on me blowing my hair. It was the longest day. Afterwards, my mom and I went to this Chinese restaurant and I got veggie noodle soup and green tea… I remember it being so comforting after such a stressful day.
RO: If you could sit next to anyone front row at a fashion show, who would it be?
AK: The Olsen twins! I’m sorry I just love them, I find them so intriguing. They are like these secret celebs that you never see out and no one really knows anything about.
RO: What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
AK: Stay true to yourself and don’t get mixed up in the glitz and glamour. It’s so true — you can get thrown off track so easily in the entertainment and fashion industries. All the parties, people and events… You need to stay focused and keep your eye on your goal, or five years down the line all your going to have to show for yourself is a lot of photos at parties. That doesn’t translate into a career or success for me!