Dr. Shellie: What are your design inspirations?

Brian David: Michelangelo once said, “The sculpture is already complete with in the marble block before I start my work. I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” I approach design much in the same way.  To me in most cases the fabrics tell me what they are meant to be! Just like the statues, the garment already exists. I just have to cut it out and put it together!

Dr. Shellie: Your design made of books for the ‘Ecolution Fashion Show’ curated by Richard Parsakian, was genius! What was your process and concept for this piece?  

Brian David: The interesting thing about that dress is, it wasn’t the dress I was planning on showing that year. I had planned on showing “The Penny Dress” but, I greatly underestimated the amount of time it was going to take to create it.

The penny dress is made from $26.00 in pennies with roughly 10,000 drilled holes and about 5,000 jump rings!  All of it was chain mailed together to create the almost eighteen-pound dress! That process took about 200 hours to complete. It was when I hit the 30-hour mark and only had a 25 x 25 square that I knew I wouldn’t have the time to complete it. So, I started my search for something new and put the penny dress aside.

My assistant Georgia Bea Cummings, is the one that suggested using books for the look, originally when I started my search, I thought a set of encyclopedias shouldn’t be too hard to find. I couldn’t remember the last time I or anyone else needed encyclopedias and I was sure that there had to be someone that had a set and was just collecting dust on a shelf somewhere for years. I was right! People still had them and that’s exactly what they were doing collecting dust. What I didn’t expect, was the overwhelming emotional attachment people had to them! I heard so many stories about how parents or grandparents purchasing them was a so symbolic to “becoming an adult” or obtaining “a certain social status”. One person told me that the set they had was the first thing their grandparents bought when the immigrated to America!

In the end, I was gifted the set my parents owned and I used it while I was growing up. During the construction process I kept coming across all the little bits of paper that where long forgotten book marks for all my past school projects. I ended up saving some of those pages for the same reasons why everyone else wouldn’t let theirs go. Those pages, and now this dress, are a physical representation not only of my past but also my future. Our world is built from the knowledge of the past, you don’t know what way is forward, without knowing the past.

Dr. Shellie: Describe your favorite design or creation and explain why it’s your favorite?

Brian David: I would have to say the look I did for the shoot for the 2020 January edition of Inspiring Lives Magazine. The look was my take on “savage beauty”. It was made from natural animal products the base of the gown is made of silk that is completely covered in feathers! It has a crown of deer antlers and jewelry made from fresh water pearls and quartz crystal! The look also has a pair of wings with a 12 foot wingspan made from the same feathers as the dress. This gown is also an example of what I call transformative evening wear! It was constructed with a hidden zipper at knee level so that the wearer has two ways to wear it. One as it’s full length and the second as a knee-length cocktail look.

Dr. Shellie: What part do accessories, hair, and makeup play in your presentation of designs in print and on the runway?

Brian David: The garment itself is only half the equation. That’s why I call it “creating a look”, to me design is about the whole picture. Every bit of every look you see from me is meticulously curated and created for the look, even the model!  It’s the model that brings life to the clothes, without them my work is just fabric on a hanger. The model allows people to see themselves in the clothes and that’s why diversity and representation matters!

Dr. Shellie: Who are your favorite designers and why?

Brian David: My favorite designer of all time is Christian Dior! He and the House of Dior have been changing the way we wear clothes for decades.  The house has had so many amazing designers at its helm that have not only embraced the traditions Dior is known for, but have also kept the brand feeling new and relevant for years!

The years of John Galliano as the head of Dior were some of the most influential! By combining everything that is Dior with his innovative sense of style he rang in a new era of fashion that was unparalleled. Even his latest collection for Maison Margiela is a beautifully dark take on Victorian Paris. Full of sheer gowns, corsets and exaggerated hour glass silhouettes contrasted by beautifully tailored coats and men’s wear. Which creates a macabre story that was a shining star at Paris fashion week that year.

Dr. Shellie: Describe what it feels like to design on a stage in front of an audience?  

Brian David: This is something that is still very new to me. I have always been the one behind the curtain making sure that everything is going according to plan! Being on stage during the show has forced me to let things happen and accept the things I can’t control. My first experience draping live on stage was in front of 300 guests at a fundraising event for the Pittsburgh Film Office. I had 16 models walking a horseshoe-shaped runway while I worked in the middle. The first time that I practiced, the gown took me about an hour to create.

The second attempt, I got it down to about 30 minutes by show time, I had it down to 22 minutes! I was so focused on what I was doing that time seemed to just fly by! Afterwards, I asked how long the show ran because it felt like I was on stage for less the 10 minutes and not the actual 25 minutes. My second experience was a bit more complicated. I only had 8 models and about 15 minutes to work with, in addition to that; I was draping on a live model that would be wearing said look for the duration of the event. So, not only did I have to finish in less time, it also had to be secure enough to wear in public. I consider myself very fortunate to have the team of people that are always willing to trust and support me with whatever idea I come up with! I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do if it were not for them!

Dr. Shellie: Your designs are timeless, classic, and beautiful! How would you describe your collections?

Brian David: I describe my collections as vintage-inspired clothing for a modern age. What this means is, I take all the best parts of vintage design (e.g., cut, shape, fit, silhouette and so), on to create a timeless one-of-a-kind couture designs!

Dr. Shellie Hipsky is the CEO of Inspiring Lives International, the President of the non-profit 501(c)(3) the Global Sisterhood, and the Editor-In-Chief of Inspiring Lives Magazine. She was deemed “Inspirational Woman of the Month” in Inspirational Woman Magazine and a “Luminary Author” for Inspire Me Today. She earned "Woman of Achievement," “Entrepreneur of the Year in Inspiration and Empowerment,” and “VIP Woman of the Year” and was also a 2015 National Professional Woman’s Association’s “Woman of the Year” and the "2013 Best Business Woman in Pittsburgh” by the Women’s Small Business Association. A former professor of the Global Perspective at the Ph.D. Level for over a decade, she is a proven expert on what she teaches and keynotes events around the globe. Her internationally best-selling Common Threads trilogy provides Inspiration, Empowerment, and Balance based on 100 amazing interviews from her Empowering Women Radio. Dr. Shellie’s latest book, illustrated by her 10-year-old daughter Alyssa, is Hopping off on a Business Trip: the first in her The World is Ours series for children. She is currently writing her 12th book, Woo Hoo! Brand You! through Morgan James Publishing. Dr. Shellie continues to share quality time with her family while helping to inspire the world!