Designer Chelsea Fairless (aka ½ of @EveryoutfitonSATC) has created a lifestyle brand that indulges the tackiest elements of your personality. By Sophia Larigakis.
Sleek flasks, leopard-print ice buckets, nunsploitation motifs, and Carrie-esque nameplate necklaces sporting iconic slices of the English language like “BITCH” and “SHOWGIRLS” – all set to the aesthetic tune of BDSM-lite – this is Female Trouble, the lifestyle brand designed by Chelsea Fairless, aka ½ of the super-witty brains behind the instagram account, Every Outfit on Sex and the City. Camp, L.A.-as-hell, sexy, and “tastefully tacky,” Female Trouble’s first-ever collection launched this week, and it’s a delight to behold.
We talked to designer Chelsea Fairless about her designs, the Camp canon, ‘90s fetish mags, and what in the world a “lifestyle brand” actually is.
Promo images by Gewet Tekle
Sophia: Your collection utilizes a lot of BDSM and fetish imagery – in particular Jonny Negron’s images. What was the impetus behind those references?
Chelsea: I love the look of latex, although personally I can’t be bothered with covering my entire body in lube just to slip into a dress. But I have always found BDSM imagery to be visually compelling. And at times hot, of course. I love everything from John Willie’s drawings to the ’90s fetish magazine O, not to be confused with Oprah’s magazine. And the Jonny Negron stuff was inspired by the Nunsploitation sub-genre, which holds a special place in my heart. But I’m a lesbian so that’s not exactly surprising.
The press release claims that “if Valley of the Dolls had a problematic lifestyle brand it might look something like this.” What does the term “lifestyle brand” mean to you, and who might be an embodiment of the “lifestyle” this brand represents?
I used the term “lifestyle brand” in the press release because I don’t really know how to categorize the line. It’s not exclusively a home goods line, it’s not a fashion label. It’s not just jewelry. Yet the first collection encompasses all of those things. I’m not trying to be Gwyneth, bless her. But the brand identity is very much rooted in a pleasure-seeking worldview. It’s about indulging in the fun things in life. You know, sex, booze, popular culture. It’s also meant to be lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek. I’m just designing decorative throw pillows, after all.
Who embodies the lifestyle of the brand? Jacqueline Susann, she was fabulous.
The brand’s name, Female Trouble, references the eponymous 1974 John Waters’ film starring Divine. Can you talk a bit about how the film – and other pop cultural references that the first collection cites – informs the brand?
For legal reasons I just want to emphasize that the line is not intended to be an extension of the film Female Trouble. And certainly the expression “female trouble” has been around for ages and ages. But of course I’m hugely inspired by John Waters and that film in particular. The film and the brand do overlap in the sense that they’re both campy. They both embrace and celebrate tackiness and sleaze. They both involve leopard print. But yes, I chose this name because the brand is so heavily inspired by popular culture and by film in particular. The first collection references Showgirls, The Eyes of Laura Mars, Addams Family Values, etc. I guess the common thread there is that all of those films are incredibly campy. The Addams Family Values to a lesser extent, although the black widow character Debbie that we pay tribute to is campy as hell.
Check out Female Trouble’s full line HERE :)
Sophia Larigakis is a Canadian writer living in New York City, and an editor at Slutever.