His designs are widely seen at red carpet events, in high profile music videos, and in weekly gossip magazines at every grocery store across the country. Brian Lichtenberg has become a staple name in the fashion industry, and I recently got the chance to sit down with the mastermind himself, the one who is single handedly responsible for Britney Spears’ latest X Factor dress. Brian and I met when I DJed his exclusive collaboration with mega-brand Forever 21 and I had the amazing opportunity to rock his glitter hooded dress I had seen on everyone from Kim K to Beyonce. I was already enamored with the designer long before we worked together and have been rocking his edgy designs ever since. Sitting down with the ever humble and often interview shy mastermind was a gift I share with you. #LUVLIFESTYLE
Tell me about your back-story – how did fashion play a part in your childhood?
Growing up I was always the creative one, I loved to draw and would even choreograph dances as early as daycare… I would perform with friends to songs like Technotronics “Pump Up The Jam” and Paula Abduls “Cold Hearted Snake”. Although growing up I always wanted to be an architect, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to attend private school and was required to abide by the dress code that I found my love for fashion. My friends in high school would always push the limits with what they could wear, they would go to thrift shops and find things they could add to their clothing to be a little rebellious… that’s where my fondness and love for fashion sprung from.
What are some defining moments of your career?
The hooded dress alone was crazy press for me, once it hits the weeklies it’s amazing because it’s so widely seen. My family members in the mid-west would call me and tell me they saw me in these magazines. In Melrose Place, Katie Cassidy was wearing a blue one-shoulder design and said my name on prime time. Before that, I dressed MIA for her tour, and celebrities would wear my stuff here and there but lately I’ve been getting a lot of exposure on the red carpet.
Tell me about Britney’s X Factor look
My friend and stylist Laury Smith wanted to pull a couple versions of the zippered scuba dress for Britney, once the pictures came out of her wearing it for her first taping of X Factor, the response was enormous.
Gwen Stefani was the first person you dressed, how did that start? Some of my friends worked at a boutique on Melrose, and I was able to create anything I wanted and sell it in the store. It was an amazing creative outlet, I remember taking a pair of vintage trousers and turning them into a top. The exposure was great and attracted a lot of stylists. A month into the summer of 2000, Gwen Stefani’s stylist came in and bought a bunch of my designs for her No Doubt tour and said she wanted me to customize a couple items for her shows. To see that I could actually do this as a career was amazing. I remember sitting with my friend watching Gwen on Letterman and freaking out that she was wearing the dress I made for her.
You are extremely humble and very approachable, has it been tough to get the right team behind you to get the word out?
Thank you! I do owe a lot to all of my friends in the industry for believing in me and working together.
Growing up, who is one person you would’ve died to dress?
Bjork. My brother and I were obsessed. In high school, the first moment that made me want to get behind a sewing machine was at the MTV VMA’s, they were interviewing her and she was wearing a paper dress. I thought it was so amazing! It was Tyvek, like the envelopes USPS uses. I would go to the post office, and get the “fabric” for free, cut off the sticky part, and I’d sew them together. I made jackets, dresses, and all sorts of stuff.
What did your family think of you designing at such a young age?
My mom was always super supportive, my brotherand I are 16 months apart so we’d always see eye to eye, chat fashion, and bounce ideas off each other. We’d both dye our hair, and dress crazy, but my mom was great through it all.
What inspired the wardrobe in Lady Gaga’s Telephone video?
Matthew Williams, who is a friend of mine, and was Gaga’s creative director at the time, propositioned me. They wanted to create a look using caution tape. I made a few options for them from spandex and they chose which one they liked best. After that, I remember a store in Taiwan requested a bathing suit of the same design.
I DJ’d your Forever21 launch party which was incredible, how did that line come about?
I have a friend who does visuals for the store, they know the girls who run Forever21, and I told them I’d love to be involved somehow. The daughters invited me to have a meeting with them at the factory and the rest is history. It was an excellent opportunity to have my things sold at all of their stores worldwide.
Is there a place you’ve traveled to that sparked inspiration?
Definitely Japan. I’ve been there five or six times so far, and it’s amazing. The way they express themselves through their personal style, and they are very free. Its sort of competitive there too, in a way.
Where did you learn how to sew and your meticulous technique?
I took a couple of classes, but most of it was self-taught. I would bleach things in my mom’s back yard, use coffee and tea to dye and stain things. It was like a creative laboratory for me. One day I was ironing wool to flatten something, and it made a burned print instead- which I loved! Everything I was creating when I first started at the time was just super creative and no boundaries.
How has music influenced your fashion?
Music has always been very inspirational to me growing up, its really amazing to be able to work with the artists you love and admire as well.
What music do you listen to when you’re designing?
I go back to Jason Bentley, and the stuff I listened to growing up. He would always play a lot of electronic and dance music, the kind of music that can be playing in the background as atmosphere. When I’m working and driving it’s my foolproof music, some of the radio stations on iTunes are great as well. And DJ Lindsay Luv mixes of course!