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How A Music Co-Sign Can Change A Designer’s Career

Dissecting the Midas Touch of a musician’s co-sign.

March 09, 2015

The most Googled red carpet look of 2014 was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Rihanna's sheer Swarovski crystals-adorned gown. The designer behind it? Adam Selman. Since he started working as the mega-star's stylist, Selman has capitalized on his momentum and branched out with his own eponymous line. Over the past few years, there's been a growing trend of artists bringing to light their favorite designers, helping to either jumpstart their careers, boost their notoriety, or simply serve as a muse. We reached out to six designers to ask them exactly how important that co-sign is.

2. Lie Sang Bong On Grimes

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LEE SANG-BONG: I think musicians, like designers, have a strong sense of self. For me, it's a beautiful thing when a woman is able to express her personality and uniqueness through the medium of fashion. There's a new awareness that gets raised and, when a garment is photographed on the right woman, the piece becomes instantaneously covetable. I've definitely noticed new business after a celebrity is photographed in our brand. Grimes' stylist saw our spring/summer 2012 collection and immediately came to the showroom to pull different outfits. She picked a black hologram jacket, silk chiffon open slit skirt and a turquoise Dancheong print knit sweater.

Designers, musicians—all artists, really—are constantly challenged and feel pressure to create the new best thing. But we find pleasure in that challenge and we enjoy our work. Like fashion, music can offer an escape and permit one to dream. It's all very fantastical.



2. Lie Sang Bong On Grimes
4. Nasir Mazhar On DJ Mademoiselle Yulia

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

NASIR MAZHAR: I met [DJ and singer] Mademoiselle Yulia through mutual friends that run GR8 shop in Tokyo and Wildstyle store in L.A.. In the beginning, Yulia just starting wearing my line on her own. Over the years we've just got to know each other better, and realized that we have really similar tastes. Recently, we created a limited edition collection together based on portraits created with the artist Simon Gray.

Musicians and designers are both artists trying to make the public understand their message and get good exposure whilst doing it. Designers need musicians to look good wearing their work so the association and style of clothes is seen on a massive scale and musicians need to look good and also be associated to good design and taste. They don't need each other, but they work really well together when the fit is right and the results of a really good partnership is priceless.

4. Nasir Mazhar On DJ Mademoiselle Yulia
5. Lindsey Degen On Solange Knowles

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LINDSEY DEGEN: DEGEN definitely gets more attention when a musician wears the clothes, especially our shoes. It's hard to directly correlate sales with a celebrity because usually I am giving the celebrities the clothes a season before they are even in stores so when people see them wear it's not like they can immediately go out and get that. I think it builds hype and excitement about the work though.

I have two friends who have worked with Solange. Ian Bradley, who styles my collection for the show every season, and Lizzie and Darlene Okpo. They grabbed a bunch of DEGEN and I guess Solange was into it. Now Solange requests it every time she is shooting. All musicians have different looks so it's all about great pairings. I think fashion also makes the musicians fun to watch. It's costume.

5. Lindsey Degen On Solange Knowles
6. Chromat On Nicki Minaj

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BECCA MCCHAREN: The first performer I ever worked with was Nicki Minaj and she wore Chromat on Jimmy Kimmel in 2011. At the time, Chromat was still a small project I did in Brooklyn at the time and was small. My main job was working as an architect in Lynchburg, Virginia and I kept getting random boutique orders. One of the stores was Le Bra Lingerie in L.A. and I guess Nicki Minaj's stylist had just been in there and she bought a piece. I had no idea until the next day when the owner of the store called me and was like you should check out Jimmy Kimmel. That was before Nicki was mega huge and I called my mom and told her and she was like, "That's great. Who's Nicki Minaj?"

Every person that's worn Chromat —Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Beyoncé—they're all strong women and I think that's really empowered us when we're designing. When they wear our pieces, it doesn't directly translate to sales. It's not a literal cha-ching, it's more of a feeling and inspiration. Not only are the benefits mutual, but the inspiration is mutual. We listen to these women in the studio constantly and to have them wear our designs is really cool.

6. Chromat On Nicki Minaj
How A Music Co-Sign Can Change A Designer’s Career