ap fashion: the mischievous courtney m. roberts

June 15, 2011

Courtney M. Roberts just turned 20, and is already causing a commotion in Baltimore with her eccentric, yet classy designs, and fashion shows in… funeral homes! (more on that later) Creative and ambitious, she’s been sewing since she was in 5th grade and is ready to take over the world with the Courtney M. Roberts Collection, and a styling company she runs with stylist/publicist Breewylde. We had a little Q & A with the afro-punk designer. Check it out…
– Lou C-D

Courtney M. Roberts Collection photos by Al Rod

Is the Courtney M. Roberts Collection a DIY business?
Courtney M. Roberts: All pieces are sewn in my home. I wish we were at the point where we had manufacturing on a wholesale level. lol It will come soon though. [As for the styling company], most of the eccentric pieces are designed in house. The normal vintagey looking pieces are from friends’ personal collections and from vintage shops. We do 75% of the styling but sometimes other stylists call upon the company for pulls.

How/why did you get started, what/who inspired you to be a designer?
My mom showed me how to sew at a super young age. 5th grade in fact. She may not be rich but she always kept and keeps me looking hot. She is famous for getting something a thrift store and fixing it to look current. She has her degree in fashion design and since I could remember she would sit me down at the sewing machine with her and make me learn different sewing techniques. I’m thankful for it now… sewing is becoming a lost artform. lol All of my birthday and halloween costumes were custom made… I was a diva.
I look up to designers Betsy Johnson, Arnold S, Oscar De La Renta, Coco Chanel, and Marc Jacobs. From the DMV area, I also like designers/stylists Bishme Cromartie, Stevie Boi, Natalie of Dollhouse Boutique…

Do other artforms inspire your work? (music, etc.) We see you did a Madonna-inspired photo series.
I can’t work without magazine or music inspiration. Music is so inspiring… Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna have made themselves like this age’s new Diana Ross’s, we look to them for fashion. What I wouldn’t do to walk through their closets. I know their stylists have to have awesome pull privileges from designers. A slow dreary dark song might inspire me to make something sleek and chic… Beyonce’s videos do a lot for me right now. lol Rihanna when she’s feeling spunky might inspire me to make a party dress with tulle, neon colors, and spikes, you feel me?

What was your first fashion show like? When was it, how did it go?
My first fashion show was in a funeral home this year… My family owns funeral homes, it was awesome! Really nice vintage furniture… textured wallpaper… crazy ambiance…

Courtney’s first fashion show took place January 21st, 2011 in a funeral home!

Tell us about your upcoming line “The Coldest Winter”, show us some pics! 😛
I’m currently sewing the pieces for Baltimore Fashion Week. That show isn’t for another few months, can’t leak those pics yet. Some goodies have to be kept private for a little while 🙂

Is there any particular idea/message behind what you create?
Be yourself… set your own trends… ‘I don’t follow trends… I don’t watch fashion forecast… I reach into my imagination, my creativity, I just make whatever feels and looks good.’

How do you relate to Afro-punk, what does it mean to you?
The name fits me perfectly. lol I love everything ethnic but I’m def punk inspired. I’m urban and hip hop and edge and street meets fashion and chic. Your site is a place where artists get to display themselves, and fashion is def as much of an art as music, hair styling, poetry, etc 🙂

Looks like you had a few artists wear your pieces (Oscar winner Ariel Winter, rappers Lola Monroe, Rye Rye). How did you pull that off?
The Oscar winner came about because my pieces were in a boutique and the owner was her stylist. [+ publicist Bree does as much PR as possible getting the pieces on artists, reaching out to A&R people and managers.]