Los Angeles-based womenswear designer Brian Lichtenberg creates bold, extroverted looks that perfectly suit Hollywood’s pop elite, making him a favorite of thrillseekers such as Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. His bombastic looks have appeared in numerous videos: that’s his yellow tape lingerie on Lady Gaga in “Telephone,” and also his hot pink and black “Freakum” scuba dress on Perry in 3Oh!3’s “Starstrukk” video.
Lichtenberg extends his playful sensibility to all aspects of his life and work, including his peppy yuletide spirit. He enjoys the strange combination of a warm and sunny climate with Christmas festivities, and plans to spend the holiday breakfasting with his family on the beach. His favorite seasonal anthems sound just as good under lit-up palm trees as they do anywhere else.
How would you classify your aesthetic in a few words?
Looking back on all my work, I see that its very graphic, bold, shiny and sexy – give or take one or two, they usually still end up defining every piece I create.
Thanks to that snappy appeal, a lot of musicians gravitate to your work. Did you enter design hoping to establish a strong bond with that creative community?
I was always really inspired by music growing up, but it was never a goal of mine. At the time, it was just a creative outlet to be designing and making clothing and accessories. Just one month after I first started selling my clothing out of my friend’s boutique in Hollywood, however, my dresses ended up on Gwen Stefani. It was then that I realized I could use my talent to dress the musicians I had always admired and listened to.
What does Christmas feel like to you in California? Do you ever want to spend the season somewhere more wintry?
It honestly does not feel like Christmas here! One year, I did spend a sort of stereotypical, snow-filled Christmas in Idyllwild, California, this small town in the mountains.
What is your favorite thing to wear for the holidays?
It’s actually the time of year when I can wear mostly t-shirts instead of tank tops here in Cali (laughs). I love that I get to layer. My uniform has been a black hoody underneath a Celine leather moto jacket.
What do you love most about the holiday season?
I love that people are generally in a more laid-back mood, spending time with their families and reflecting back on the year.
What is unique about your family’s Christmas celebration rituals?
Every Christmas Eve morning, we eat at this breakfast spot in Hermosa Beach called Martha’s, then walk along the beach afterwards. It’s really relaxing and beautiful.
What was a particularly memorable holiday moment for you in your youth?
Wondering why there was a black Santa and a white Santa in the same mall.
How are you spending New Year’s Eve this year?
I will be ringing in 2012 in Miami – more warm weather!
What are you listening to most often these days?
Most recently everything from mixes by Jamie Jones, NGUZUNGUZU, and Jamie XX to Iggy Azalea, Drake and Lana Del Rey.
Who is your ultimate musical muse?
When I started designing I was really obsessed with Björk, so I think being able to dress her would really make my career come full circle.
Can you give a brief rundown of some of the musicians you’ve collaborated with?
Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Peaches, M.I.A., Ciara, Katy Perry, Yelle, Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha, Keri Hilson.
What is the most striking sartorial moment you’ve shared with a musician?
Usually being able to watch them onstage in my outfits is thrilling, especially Peaches on New Year’s Eve a couple years ago. She got real crazy.
Brian’s favorite Christmas songs (listen on Spotify)
Eurythmics – “Winter Wonderland”
Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmas Time”
Mannheim Steamroller – Christmas
Amy Grant – “Emanuelle”
Tori Amos – “Winter”
Elmo and Patsy – “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”
Madonna – “Santa Baby”
The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”
Run-DMC – “Christmas in Hollis”
• Camilla Staerk’s Black Christmas