Brian Lichtenberg has won over everyone from Ciara to Cara Delevingne with his clever T-shirts remixing popular fashion house logos to say slogans like "Homíes" (for Hermés) and "Féline" (for Céline). For his first ever showing at New York Fashion Week, however, the shirts were not in sight. "This season I'm getting back to my ready-to-wear roots and focusing in on my high end luxury meets streetwear after the last year's explosion of my sportswear," he told us.
The presentation, set against a chain-link fence backdrop at Pier 59 Studios, revealed urban looks fit for Rihanna (also a fan) with leather bra-tops, low-slung jeans showing off briefs, graffiti-printed neoprene dresses, and crop tops galore. They were matched with Lichtenberg's first-ever shoe collection, due spring 2014, including python pumps, thigh-high sheer boots, and strappy stilettos. We chatted with the snapback hat-wearing designer right before his show to talk hip-hop, awkward childhood fashion, and the L.A. versus NYC debate.
How do you feel about showing in New York for the first time?
I'm really excited about it. It's always been a dream of mine. When I was younger, some people wanted to grow up to be firemen and policemen. I just wanted to be a designer and to show during New York Fashion Week. It's happening. It's really exciting.
You have a ton of fans from the hip-hop world; if you could choose one hip-hop theme song what would yours be?
Good question. [Tupac and Coolio's] "Rollin' With My Homies." After growing up with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, hip-hop—especially West Coast hip-hop and all that—is on my iPod. I guess that's a bit of my influence, too.
Drake's motto is "YOLO"—what's yours?
Keepin' it real...and luxurious.
Your crew necks and graphic prints really bring back the '90s.
Yeah, totally. I feel like everyone's inspired by their childhood, and it's kind of that nostalgia. I do dig back in my memory banks for those moments. Definitely, there is a totally '90s vibe in this collection.
What iconic looks from the decade did you borrow?
There's a lot of cropped moments. There's midriff bearing pieces and I did a print this time of [graffiti] tagging and we tagged '90s supermodels and their names, it's just really street. We had Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Claudia Schiffer.
What were you wearing in the '90s?
Oh my god. I wasn't very fashionable or really cared but I'd wear like sweatpants with tie-dye vans, and my mom always took me to Mervyns. It wasn't until high school that I really started caring about what I wore and would go thrift shopping with my friends. That would turn into a snowball effect of me just getting involved in fashion. Growing up, I had a subscription to ELLE, and had a subscription to Harper's Bazaar and all that.
Miley Cyrus is constantly taking selfies wearing your clothes—what do you think of all the buzz around her?
She's awesome, and I love just how she's growing up, expressing herself, and turning into a woman. I love her style evolution. I'm glad she's a big fan, and I'm a big fan of hers. She's great.
So, do you know how to twerk too?
Yes I do! I know how to twerk! Me and my friends have had contests before. Definitely.[Laughs]
As a native L.A. guy, how does the city's streetwear compare to NYC?
Definitely here [NYC], I feel like fashion is more in your face and people are more into wearing designers here. It's really cool, whereas in L.A. it's very comfortable and casual. There's only those few pockets in L.A. where you can see more New York, dressed up kind of vibe.
How often do you see people wearing your designs?
It always puts a smile on my face when I'll go around L.A. to Barneys New York or out to eat and will see somebody more often than not wearing my stuff, and they'll mix it with their Céline bag, or Hermés, and it makes me happy because that's exactly how I pictured it: just merging street and luxury.
From ELLE.com Photo Credit: Pier 59 Studios