You may not know costume designer Christiane Hultquist, or Christian Joy as she’s called in musical circles, by name–but you’ve probably seen her outlandish designs at one point or another. After all, they’re rather hard to miss.
Hultquist is the woman behind all of Karen O’s most dramatic costumes, and has also outfitted a slew of other cool-kid music acts including Oh Land, Santigold, and Klaxons. Her DIY costumes, and signature homemade, crafty aesthetic have become famous on the stage–and now, thanks to her retrospective exhibit “Do Androids Dream of Electric Shrimp?” which recently opened at Williamsburg’s Picture Farm Gallery, fans finally have the opportunity to see her work up-close and personal.
Hultquist never attended fashion school, but in her mind, that’s what makes her work so special. “I think for me, ‘do it yourself’ gives you the opportunity to create things in a different way, versus if you went to school,” she told us. “I never had anyone say to me, this is how you sew and this is what the trends are. No one told me if there were guidelines I had to follow so I just used my imagination and learned from my mistakes.”
The skeleton suit Karen O wore during 2003′s “Fever To Hell” tour is Hultquist’s favorite. “It was the first opportunity I had to take time and work on a costume, and was one of those moments where I broke through to the other side,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing for a couple of years and I was constantly throwing things together—that’s why some of it looks like a mish-mashed art project.”
In addition to prints and costumes, the exhibit includes homemade videos. Of course, this Brooklynite’s homemade videos are not your average YouTube. She enlisted friends like Belgian model Hannelore Knuts to dance around in some of her more experimental creations. “It’s funny because you don’t get it from a lot of pictures because she looks very serious, but [Hannelore] is super smart and light-hearted, and when you see her move you can’t even believe it,” Hultquist said.
But overall what she would like people to take home from her exhibit is that the ‘do it yourself’ lifestyle can be a means of achieving success. “I want people to see this and say ‘Oh I could do it and I don’t have to know that much, I just have to go for it. I think that is important for young people to see.”
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Shrimp” will be on display at the Picture Farm Gallery through the end of November
Click through to see more looks from the show.
Photo: Leia Jospe