Creator of Boudoir Queen, Dawn Younger-Smith will show a collection titled The Vreeland Collection at Austin Fashion Awards on Saturday, May 11. Her edgy Edwardian clothing has been featured in Vogue, Elle, and Nylon. She has styled Patty Griffith, Courtney Love, and Shawn Colvin. Austin’s emphasis on individuality inspires her unique designs.
How did you become a fashion designer? I’m originally from Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Austin for 12 years. I was a celebrity make-up artist and stylist in L.A. I had already started designing a little in L.A., and then I just really started getting into it when I moved to Austin. I started out doing stage clothes and went into collections.
Did you bring experience from being a model and a make-up artist into your fashion designs? I used to be an art model for Steven Arnold, Salvador Dali’s protegee, and he died of AIDS around 1992. He did really ‘arty’ photography. I did a lot of make-up for him and I also modeled for him. So, actually, he was my inspiration as far as what I do now.
Does Austin as a city influence your designs at all? My designs just went over really well here. They were really open to it. Like in L.A. everyone kind of follows what each other is doing, and they kind of have a tendency to wear if someone is wearing army pants, everyone is wearing army pants. I’m just using that as an example. Whereas in Austin, people are more individual. They like to look more individual and would rather wear something unique and different instead of wearing what everyone else is wearing. So that, I would say, influenced me.
What does Austin Fashion Week mean for you as a designer? I mainly sell online. I have my own site. I guess it gives me an opportunity for Austin, the city I live in, to see my clothing.
What was your inspiration for your Austin Fashion Week show? It’s called The Vreeland Collection after Diana Vreeland, the former editor of Vogue during the sixties. I would call it bohemian luxury clothing, like if you were hanging out with the Rolling Stones in Moroccan clothing. I always have some kind of inspiration for my shows. I’m also going to have a celebrity guest, and that’s pretty exciting. BP Fallon was the publicist for Led Zeppelin during the height of their career. He’s played with Lennon and Yoko Ono. He’s going to make an appearance introducing Boudoir Queen.
Is there someone close to you who is LGBT who has impacted your life? Steven Arnold. He would probably be the biggest impact, but I’m in the fashion industry and almost all of my friends are gay and lesbian. I have lots of friends in town who have inspired me in certain ways. I would say that Steven was definitely my biggest inspiration.
Were you raised to be tolerant of the community or is this something you developed through being in the industry? It’s something I have developed. When I was growing up it was different. People didn’t really even talk about it that much until the AIDS crisis came up, and then a lot of my friends passed away. A lot of them. Then it became a really hot topic of conversation, and people were talking about it. I’m talking about when I was in high school. Then when I was in my twenties, I had a lot of gay friends, and people were getting sick. I lost a lot of my friends.
What do you plan on doing after Austin Fashion Week? Well, I’m always starting a new project. What I usually do is wait for all the photos, and then I put them all up online. I send them to New York and I try to get the clothing placed in different magazines. I have stylist friends that I send everything to, and they pull things. So, I sell things, and then I start on my next collection, and I’m hoping to maybe show in New York next year. I’m going to be venturing out a little bit, either next year or the following year.