Interview: Costume Designer Christian Joy on Dressing Karen O and Her New Show at Audio Visual
Courtesy Audio Visual Arts
Karen O can pretty much wear whatever she wants and still get her point across, but there's no denying that her rainbow-collaged wardrobe--which ranges from space-age frocks to glow-in-the-dark Predator-esque jumpsuits--adds to the intensity and dynamic of every Yeah Yeah Yeahs show. So it's quite fitting that the person in charge of dressing the infamously fashion-forward front woman would have a show of her own. In her first solo exhibition, "The Visitors Must Be Amused," costume designer Christian Joy asked her family and friends (including Ms. O) to write a description of a female being. The result is a specifically designed costume representing each definition, including one of an alien goddess gown with a whip. Which is of course a very accurate representation of what it's like to be a woman. We caught up with Joy to talk about the show, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and recession fashion.
How did you first meet Karen O?
I met Karen O While I was working at the Daryl K Store on 6th Street in the East Village. She would come in all the time and we would hang out and talk.
How did you come to start dressing her?
Karen actually saw some pieces that I had done for a store that used to be on Orchard Street called Timtoum. They were some de-constructed prom dresses and she asked me to make one for her, for a show they were playing at the Cooler. From there it just sort of took off and we've been working together ever since.
Are there one or two outfits you've done for her that've gotten an exceptional amount of attention?
The skeleton suit I think is one of the most popular pieces. It's basically sort of a Day of the Dead inspired body suit--painted and embroidered. It also has a three dimensional heart on the outside and it came with intestines that Karen could pull out of the costume onstage. The prom dresses and all of the early stuff are what helped get attention in the beginning. Everything was pretty raw and thrown together which I think fit the YYY's music well at the time.