Meet Laurel DeWitt - the Queen of Chain and Metal
24Fashion TV is proud to present our interview with Laurel DeWitt.
Laurel DeWitt earned the moniker “The Queen of Chain & Metal” for her decade- long endeavor of building her brand that reimagines the distinction between clothing and accessories. Her designs caught the eye of some of the industry's most reputable stylists and have been adorned by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Gwen Stefani, Nicki Minaj, Jay Z, Madonna, Kris Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Rowland, Megan Thee Stallion, Offset, City Girls, Chloe X Halle, John Legend, Chrissy Teigan, Tyra Banks, Normani, Serena Williams, Brandy, Thalia, Meghan Trainor, Halsey, Camilla Cabello, Laverne Cox, Teyana Taylor, Amber Rose, Saweetie, Chaka Khan, Tiffany Haddish, LaLa Anthony, Wendy Williams, and Carly Rae Jepsen, among others; her special projects include work with The Brooklyn Museum, Macy’s Herald Square, The Smithsonian Institute, and Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. @laureldewitt
24FashionTV: Hi Laurel, and welcome to 24Fashion TV! We have a motto at 24FashionTV: “Always be fashion!” What do “Fashion” and “Style” mean to you?
Laurel DeWitt: I love that motto because my fashion and style is always about art. I'm an artist before anything, fashion and style are just the mediums that spark my creativity and guide my art.
Your masterpieces are beloved by celebrities. Your metal crowns, metal apparel and jewelry are regularly seen in music videos and on the Red Carpet on such celebs as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, etc. That list is huge! Who was the first celebrity that wore one of your designs? How did you feel when you saw the recognition of your work by the public?
It’s so long ago so it’s hard for me to remember, but the one I always think of is Nicki Minaj on BET’s Rip the Runway. It’s always amazing when people recognize my work. I really love when people comment on my Instagram and say they knew something was mine before I posted it. It means I’m leaving my mark.
What inspired you to start your career as a designer?
I’ve always been an artist. When I was a kid all I did was create and build things. Fashion felt like a natural step and a different way of expressing myself through art.
What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome, in the industry or within yourself, before you ‘made it’ as a designer?
That’s a hard question. There are so many obstacles in this business and sometimes I still don’t feel like I’ve made it. I’d say that a big thing for me is finding a work/life balance. You can get so focused on your work that it’s hard to take a step back, but I’m always trying to find that balance.
You were a designer of several outfits for the movie “Coming 2 America” earlier this year. How did that happen, and did you enjoy creating stuff for the movie? Any more film collaborations to come?
Tanja Caldwell reached out to me because she’d thought I’d be a good fit to work with them. I had a meeting with her and Ruth Carter, which was amazing. It felt great to be working with a legend that is so passionate about her work. Some of the pieces used in the film were archival pieces from past collections, but many of the crowns were made specifically for the film. There are a few things for television and film in the works, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that!
Your collections don’t really have seasons and they are timeless. Partly this must be because your work is so ‘fantastic’ as to defy being shoehorned into any season. Do you feel that you have found your stylistic niche or are you exploring new ideas, materials, and techniques still?
I’m always exploring, learning, and growing. My brand has made its mark with chain and metal. That’s mostly what I’m known for, but I challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and there are projects that challenge me as well. Custom work sometimes requires me to get out of my comfort zone and find new ways to make things happen, which I love the challenge. I do like that my pieces don’t really have seasons, and with collections I get to show what seasons are like in the Laurel DeWitt world.
What’s the message of your style, or what message do you think your clientele and the fashion-buying public receives?
I want to make everyone feel amazing and glamorous. I’m inspired by so many things, but I love regalia. I want all of my clients to feel like Queens and Kings when they wear my pieces.
What was your favorite masterpiece and tell us a little of that? Who wore it, when etc.
This is always the hardest question because it’s very hard to choose between all the pieces that I’ve made––I pour my heart and soul into them. But I always come back to the crown that Beyonce wore in the Hymn for the Weekend video. That was the first time Beyonce wore Laurel DeWitt and it was such a major moment for me personally and for the brand.
Do you think the fashion business follows standard business cycles or has a periodicity of its own?
The standard business cycles are still useful in fashion business, but there are also so many factors that go into when your pieces are going to be in the highest demand. Like with Halloween coming up that can be a big time for me, or award season, fashion weeks, and different times like those. We talked about how seasons don’t impact my work, but because custom requests are a large part of my brand, events and holidays tend to impact my business cycle in the way season would for different designers. Being able to measure those influxes makes the standard business cycle a little less useful for someone in my position.
Over the last few years your collections have been featured in the Covet Fashion Game. Why did you choose to be a part of this game and do you play this game yourself as well?
My Brand Director, Sire, became obsessed with the game and he brought it up to me. At first, I didn’t really get it, but he got us in the game and was able to see how it made so much sense for us to be there. They have a lot of fantasy challenges that the brand is perfect for. I love the game and think it’s so fun and am grateful to be a part of it.
Do you like social media? Are there good and bad things about it and about the effect it has on the public?
There are good and bad things about everything. I like social media because it allows me to connect with other industry professionals and with fans of my work. I get to showcase what I do and maybe someone that’s never heard of me will find it. I love that social media allows people that are familiar with where my work has been featured, find my socials, and get to connect those dots of the different projects I’ve been involved in. When I talk to younger people, I make sure that they know that it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors, and that they shouldn’t compare themselves to others on social media.
Your new collection of jewelry and accessories is coming out soon. What should we expect?
I don’t want to give anything away, but I think you’ll like it.
24Fashion TV viewers are extremely varied, but we have a lot of new designers on our platform. What message would you give to them? Do you have any advice for people that are about to come out of design schools around the world?
My advice is simple –– do the work, be prolific, and always be a student. I’m still learning every single day. There are no shortcuts. As long as you believe in your vision, you’ll get there.
Thank you so much for the interview and we are looking forward to following your magnificent career.
Thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure.