Look out “Fashion Stars” and “Project Runway” contestants — Austin fashion designer Rachelle Briton is back and as inspired as ever. After a year of fighting off sickness caused by a mold-infested home and coping with her recent Lupus diagnosis, Briton is ready to power up her sewing machine and create some serious rock ‘n’ roll fashion.
Sitting on the floor of her temporary studio, Briton is glowing with excitement as she shares her ideas for the Cinderella-themed photo shoot. Her long blonde hair has been crimped and pinned into a perfect princess up-do, topped off with a delicate chair tiara fit for a queen. Prior to stepping into one of her über-feminine couture designs, Briton sports a loose pink tank top and sweat pants.
In tune with her personal sense of style, Briton says, “I want a girl that likes to play dress up and do hair and make-up and styling. I want a girl who loves music, who wants to bring out the inner rock star in her and wants to have fun.”
While this aesthetic won’t change as she returns to the drawing table, her newly recognized body image awareness will definitely influence her designs. “I want to be able to wear the same thing when I’m skinny or I’m fat,” Briton says. “I’ve become a lot more conscious of that because before I was very thin and I’ve recently put on weight and so that has made a difference in my new approach in designing and styling.”
Before she became the power-house designer she is today, she worked as a stylist in New York City for a little television channel called MTV.
“I love styling, but I have the artist in me that wants to come out,” she says. After a whirlwind experience dressing celebrities like Alicia Keys and the hosts of MTV’s Total Request Live, Briton’s Texas roots and the love of her life brought her back to Austin. She explains, “Everybody wants to be a fashion designer in New York. It’s like everybody wanting to be a live musician in Austin. I decided to come back to Austin to stand out.”
Lately, Briton has settled into a life in Austin with her adoring husband, Brian Miller (with whom she recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary) and says she considers Austin’s fashion community a part of her family. “I really support the Austin Fashion Association. They have tremendously helped me with different things. I did a show at the Driskol for the Young Women’s Association charity event and they provided photographers and Wilhelmina Brown models, everything… hair and make-up. They’ve also done different shows with me at Cedar Park Center, so they’ve been a really big supporter of me.”
Briton’s hard work and distinctive designs have earned her global recognition as well. Through a frequent working relationship, Fed Ex took an interest in Briton’s success and featured her in their commercial for their campaign Fed Ex + Me. My Story: Austin. Celebrities from Carrie Fisher to Miss Universe have been honored to wear Briton’s original designs. For a photo shoot for Popular Hispanics Magazine, Miss Universe chose a Briton gown hanging on a rack alongside Chanel, Oscar De La Renta and Dior.
“She picked my dress out of all of those names, so that was one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had,” Briton says. “I mean, she didn’t even read the labels, I guess. She just gravitated towards that dress.” The gown, coincidentally titled “Gravity” is named after a John Mayer song.
Inside every garment she creates, Briton stitches her signature guitar pick to remind her customers of their inner rock star. No stranger to the stage herself, Briton grew up with a “Brady Bunch family” with three musically inclined siblings and a rock-n-roll dad. With the addition of her guitar-playing husband, Briton finds inspiration in the music that constantly surrounds her. Do not be surprised if you see Katy Perry or Lady Gaga wearing Rachelle Briton in the future—she is totally in harmony with their edgy, glamorous style.
Written by Nicole Seligman
Images by Kim Woo