Bay Area fashion guru Dexter is a living piece of performance art as well as stylist extraordinaire and inspirational designer. From fashion, styling bands, editorial shoots, catalog, hair, makeup, fashion shows to art installations he truly leaves a piece of his soul in everything creative he does. September 15th he makes his Project Runway debut on the Lifetime Network, find out more about him in our exclusive interview…
Photo by Beverly Sherman
What have you been up to since we last left off?
I have been busy starting a T-shirt line (Dextrose) and preparing for the next phase of our design career. I have a few new collections I’m working on and I’m extra stoked to work with color so stay true to my dark esthetic. I have been super inspired by world culture and I’m experimenting with that now.
So exciting your on the new Season 15 of Project Runway coming soon! What are your feelings about it?
I’m a bit reclusive when it comes to my art so it’s for sure a challenge to try to do it on national television. However I’m always down for a challenge.
What can we expect to see on the show?
As far as the upcoming tv show if you follow my work I think you know what to expect from me.
Tell us about your experience at New York Fashion week and the details for your runway show:
It was an amazing experience full of stress, excitement, magic fear and validation. That was the fastest I have ever sewn in my life. It was for sure a photo finish. Style Fashion Week was very good to me and I really enjoyed the experience. I really do feel like Fashion Week is where I belong.
Where were you born?
I was born in Oakland California.
At what age did you discover yourself as a designer and tell us about that moment?
I really came into my own as a designer in high school, I went to Raves, punk shows and music festivals. I made and embellished most if not all of my outfits and then my friends started asking for them. From studding and patching punk jackets to making 42 inch bottom rave pants, I really just loved making obscure and interesting shapes. Being 15 and getting real orders was overwhelming but I loved it and I do my best work when I’m under pressure.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is hard to describe. It’s a blend of punk, indie, EDM, rockabilly, editorial, Japan-pop, new wave, 70s, 80s, goth, rave, hip hop, electro clash, metal, and however I’m feeling that day. My style is mood and music fueled, it really depends what moves me. Style is so important in my industry, it let’s the client get a little taste of the mind they will be working with and a peak into the window one might say.
What motivates and drives you everyday?
My drive really comes from all the doors that have been closed in my face, teachers that told me there was no market for my extreme fashion and agencies telling me to be more commercial. That’s just not me and win or fail I wanna be able to say, I did it my way. A big part of it is knowing I do something that no one else does and fully believing I have something new to offer fashion. Believing in yourself and really trying to push the envelope is what I’m about. “Go big or go home”.
You were one of the designers on the new Rihanna show “Styled To Rock” with Pharrell Williams on Bravo TV. How has this impacted your life so far?
Being on Styled to Rock has changed nothing about me, it just really gets me out there to more people. It gives people a chance to see something new and a chance to get a taste of underground SF Culture. That culture helped make me a well rounded designer with a different take on fashion. Because of Styled to Rock I have been able to take my work to the next level and make a real name for myself outside of SF. I’m a bit private so sometimes it’s hard. Before strangers would stare at me because they didn’t understand, now the stares come with a little smile.
Let our readers know more about your experience on the show:
My experience on the show was for the most part good. The editing team was kind to me and they really showed me as me. I sometimes wanted a bit more rock in the challenges but it was not my show. It was crazy how fast the turn around was on the clothing and the viewers have no idea how little sleep we had. One of the things you don’t see much of is coming up with our hair and makeup looks, that was one of my favorite parts. I made a lot of amazing life long friends and I have grown in ways I would have never imagined. It’s crazy that the pressure, hard work, tears and cameras has made me realize I can do anything. All in all it was a good experience. It’s just kinda crazy to meet some of the biggest celebrities in the world in such a short time. It’s really a designer/stylist dream.
Which was your favorite style challenge and why?
One My favorite style challenges was for Nervo. We actually got to work with LEDs and fiber optics, I have always loved the use of lights in fashion and I am a big EDM fan. Also the Carly Rae Jebson challenge, I love TuK footwear. It was rad to get to work with creepers, I am a big fan. That challenge was the most rewarding, winning a spot in Glamour Magazine and giving an artist a bit of an edgy makeover is what I live for.
When your designing is there any particular music you listen to?
When I am designing I usually listen music it just depends what I’m designing. Currently I have been jamming to Adult, Bag Raiders, Disclosure, Fever Ray, Scissor Sisters, Crystal Castles and Peaches.
We at Dark Beauty love what you do, what type of person would you like to wear your look?
I hate to type cast who will wear my stuff but an artist that has no fear and just wants a style all there own. A true trendsetter ready to take risks and shake the foundation of fashion and music. I really want my next big client to be a music artist I can travel with and really take charge of their look, feel and general vibe.
Can you predict any future trends?
As far as trend predicting I feel like this next season with be a bit more gypsy and back to the earth. Also creepers will be in full effect this year!
Who would be your ultimate person to style and design for and why?
My dream client would probably be Rihanna, Fever Ray, Scissor Sisters, Grace Jones or Azalea Banks. It’s just to hard to pick one. These artist are all fearless risk takers with no worries of what people will think. They all to me have an icon quality and I feel like we are on the same page as far as interests.
What’s next for Dexter Simmons?
What’s next is a good question? I am about to launch my T-Shirt line, I’m excited about that. I’m gearing up for La Style Fashion week and meeting with agencies to hopefully get signed. I am just trying to stay busy and be humble.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
Dark beauty is one of the few places for people like me to get inspiration. A place to showcase talent and to truly find beauty in non traditional ways. There is beauty in dark obscure places and if your too busy smelling the roses you might miss the beautiful black widow hiding under the pedals.