July 22, 2022 | Elizabeth Kuzyk
Designer Elizabeth Kuzyk describers herself as a “daydreamer.”
But it’s when she daydreams that the magic happens.
Before creating a new collection, Elizabeth builds unique worlds with distinct characters. When she knows exactly who she’s creating a collection for, “designing clothes becomes simple,” notes Elizabeth.
We discuss what it was like creating her latest character - where she found inspiration, how she immersed herself into her character’s life, and everything else in between.
When creating a new collection, you build characters with in-depth storylines. Can you tell us about the character you created for your last collection?
She’s a singer-songwriter. You can’t really put your finger on her style—it’s a little jazz mixed with bluegrass, rock and roll, and gospel. She has Janis Joplin’s voice with Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. She’s at a point in her life where she’s missing the days spent writing in her journal while listening to Johnny Cash records surrounded by an ashtray of cigarettes. She longs for the days she was free of obligations. The story takes place in early 2020 when the pandemic hits, so it’s like the universe forced her back into her creative safe place, even though the entire world around her doesn’t feel so safe.
How did you come up with this girl?
I take these long drives along Mullholland—they’ve become my creative therapy. At the time, I was thinking about all the people who’ve driven along that road: actors, musicians, performers. No matter how successful you are, it’s likely you’ve yearned for something else at one point or another. You can still have low points despite having made it to the “top.” The character I created is meant to embody this feeling.
How did you start to form her persona?
I started thinking about her day-to-day, from the moment she wakes up to the moment she shuts her eyes. She wakes up and kisses her ex-fiance on the head…
So she has an ex-fiance?
Not just an ex-fiance—an ex-fiance she’s still sleeping with.
She walks into her closet, grabs her vintage 50 Birkin, and fills it with her favorite clothes—the gold Mick Jacket and matching Mick Skirt she wore to Paris Fashion Week, the washed lambskin Rose Hoodie that belonged to her ex, and the leather Smith Straight Leg Trouser she wears both on and off stage. She throws the bag into the trunk of her ‘93 silver Ferrari and drives in no particular direction. Some days she drives up to Ojai, other days she makes it all the way to Arizona. She stumbles upon a dive bar in Yuma and performs in front of six people who have no clue who she is.
That’s a pretty vivid description. Did you put yourself in her shoes before creating the collection?
Yes. I fully immersed myself in her life. I even found a house for sale in Laurel Canyon and pretended I was going to buy it. I ended up befriending the owner, Jimmy Steinfeldt, a photographer who had toured with Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones back in the day. I like to believe that the two of them would’ve been dear friends.
How do stories help inform the pieces you design?
Once I define the world and the character, I know exactly what types of pieces I need to create. When I’m fully immersed in the world of the story, designing clothes becomes simple—it’s like some powerful, hypnotic pull.
If you had to pick one piece in your collection that best reflects this character, which would it be and why?
The Falaise Lambskin Kimono and Falaise Lambskin Patchwork Trouser. The kimono’s embroidered cuffs replicate the embroidery found on a nineteenth century kimono from South China and the pants embody detailed craftsmanship. The character I created really values craft and is inspired by objects from bygone eras. Everything she collects is a piece of art.
Is there any bit of you in this girl?
A lot of her is really just me. I can put myself under pressure and fully relate to the feeling of wanting to escape, to run away. The music she listens to is the music I listen to. The stuff she owns, like the vintage Navajo jewelry and vintage 50 Birkin, are the things I own. I love that bag. It’s super beat up, but it’s one of my favorite things ever. It's a piece of art. I know this girl. I am this girl. I made what I love but couldn’t find.