Our majestic story begins as Dark Beauty Music sits down and gets to know who is Majesty Black. An empowering tale of fashion, truth and self empowerment. As beautiful as gold and diamonds this is art at its purest form. A message of staying true to yourself, creating your own path and an anthem to live by #WeAreAllRoyal
Tell us about your fashion design background:
I attended the Women’s Pattern Making Program in San Francisco / Oakland, “Apparel Arts.” It’s a self-paced Pattern making program for the hobbyist and those who aspire to start up their own fashion collection. The teachers there are well versed in the industry within regards to fashion, manufacturing and production. The program is affordable and self paced. What more could you ask for? Or… you can spend 4 years and 250k at some fashion school. I chose this program and haven’t looked back since the day I began. I am so grateful for the programs creator and one of my mentors, “Suzy Furrer.” I also have been mentored taking private classes on manufacturing and production from the amazing and talented, Lana Hogue,” who is also Bay Area based. Before that I was a fashion rep for “Ernte” Of Erntefashionsystems.com I have also worked to facilitate many Bay Area Fashion based events, shows and trunk shows in addition to traveling and performing.
Your known for beautifully handcrafted, modern, luxury leather pieces such as custom gloves, belt and hats. What inspired you to go in this direction?
That’s an interesting question. I get asked that a lot, like who would make what you do or how did you arrive at creating what you create? I think it was a lifetime of jobs and past life experience that lead me to arrive where I am today. All parts equal the whole of who I am and what I design today. Firstly I worked as a body piercer for many years in San Francisco at a shop called “Braindrops.” We also did tattoos, so that can explain how heavily modified I am in my appearance. I grew up in a Tattoo shop, putting precious metals in the bodies and skin of my clients. Now I still put precious metals in skin, leather, and try my best to make it comfortable and stay. I still stick needles in skin everyday. This is how I suppose I have ended up looking the way I do and creating what we make. My first time to Paris last year, there were many photographers, including Bill Cunningham of the New York Times, that I’m sure was wondering, “What the fuck? How did you end up here?” or “How can you look the way you do and do “fashion?” Well, fuck off, this is who I am. I do not regret my appearance and would not change who I am for the fashion world ever. In fact to my surprise the fashion world actually opened up its arms to me, and shockingly has completely accepted me for how I look. I think it’s refreshing for them to see a bit of color in Paris.
To go back further to my childhood, I’m a survivor of an extremely religious background involving physical and emotional abuse. Now, my art is an extension of me working through this. I remember when I was young boy in Kindergarten school, the teacher gave us an art project. She asked us to draw ourselves as animals or how we see ourselves. I drew a very intense studded spikey dinosaur and when asked why I would like to be this creature I replied, “So no one could ever hurt me anymore.” Now I make many spikey and studded creations based off of armor and weapons. I like to call this “Majesty Black, An Arsenal of Accessories.”
Gloves are probably one of the most difficult things to create, from a patterning perspective. I do appreciate the challenge and impossibility of creating from scratch the glove patterns I use. I’ve worked for over 3 years now perfecting my own patterns of the human hand. I’ve created my own system for making custom measurements in order to make gloves for anyone that TRULY fit, “Like a glove.”
It was the challenge, I would also say, and the fact that I adore accessories and dressing up a bit, in fact a lot, lol. However I did face a lot of opposition and challenges to create this label. This didn’t just happen, I’m not rich, I wasn’t put through an expensive fashion program like Parsons or Saint Martins, and no you do not need to drop your life savings on high-end fashion schools to have success as an artist or designer. When I first arrived in Bali to begin my first collection I remember a famous designer saying, “Oh, you are here wanting to make gloves? No one can do that on the level of what you want to make, it’s impossible. Just go home now.”
Seven Months of tedious non-stop work lead to the release of my very first collection. In that collection I created my Armor Glove concept, which found it’s own way to the hands of Madonna based on the quality of my work alone. We still do not pay anyone for PR, we are a small company and cannot afford the costs of paying someone to put our products on people for us. All press and celebrity gigs have purely been based off of our own designs and work. Madonna wears our gloves daily to and from the gym and many more celebrities are catching on to us. It feels amazing to me that something I created, that we make, is not just used one time in a picture in a magazine, but something that travels with M in her luggage wherever she goes. A piece of who we are is with her. I hope my designs summon the strength that I’ve put into my self-work as an artist and human and victim of abuse. Our shit makes people feel like a super hero, strong, fancy, fetch, sexy and a badass rock star and that is exactly who I am and what we make.
What I hope to inspire in others is that you don’t have to cram yourself into a box, look the way your industry looks or what others tell you to look like or sound like. Or what others want you to sound like, be marketable, be more straight acting, be less femme, be less gay, be more white, be more black, be a boy or be a girl, be a sheep and hide who you are or tone it down to have success in the world. Be who you are, and the universe will open its gates to your wildest dreams. Through being brave and never batting an eye at the challenges I’ve faced, I’ve become the person I am today. Now it is your turn, it’s all of our turns. Each one of us is uniquely special and has a light inside that deserves to be shown to the world.
Very enlightening indeed, please tell us more on who Joshua David is and take us behind the curtain:
Who am I? I’d say I’m many things, but above all I’m passionate about what I do, who I love and what I create. At times I’m super silly and dorky and other times serious and a total business bitch. I love to perform as a performance artist, I toured the world doing Avant Guarde drag involving gender bending story telling shows set with custom music using fire, live cheek piercing and suspension – yes hanging from hooks by my skin. In the end I’m a Unicorn I think, or maybe a luck dragon, definitely with spikes all over it. ;)
Congratulations on Madonna wearing your custom gloves. How does it make you feel when one of the world’s biggest music icon’s is rocking something you’ve created?
I feel elated! Most of the time it seems unreal. I have a deep heart connection with Madonna, I’ve always loved her and her music. She after all is the Queen, and I run a label called Majesty Black, so it seems appropriate to have a queen and muse like her, plus she really loves gloves. In fact she started wearing gloves from the beginning of her career, and made fingerless gloves a fashion trend. I feel like I really understand her, I like that she is a rebel at heart and not only talented with her music, but a sickening dancer, a romantic with a heart of gold and a badass business bitch. A person who has inspired almost all of the musicians that we love or hate today. I also respect her because of her political and activist work. If you haven’t seen her short film ‘Project Secret Revolution’ I’d love for you to watch it:
She is touring the world speaking out against governments and the establishments that want to keep us down as free thinkers, lovers and artists. Her message touches not only me, but the vast expanse of fans and people she has inspired around the globe. She after all was one of the first who taught me that it was ok to be Gay, to be a sexual being on this earth. When I was growing up she was the only thing that kept me hanging on with the glimmer of hope that I could grow up and be who I am after living in a very religious Jehovah’s Witness household. She may have even contributed to saving me from my suicidal tendencies around my sexuality back then. I will always look up to her and love her for how much she has touched my life and beyond that, a little piece of me now gets to go with her around the world and be worn by her often. I hope to continue to make her things and ‘dress her up with my love’ forever.
MADONNA and THE GRAMMY’S! It’s so amazing you designed the dance suits and gloves on Madonna’s dancers. It was a collaborative effort between Majesty Black and House Of Malakai. When did you know this was going to happen? What is your feeling right now seeing your art in the biggest Music Awards show on the planet?
Goosebumps. Filled with love and gratitude, mind blown open and then back to work.
-House of Malakai collaborating on the pants with us, Gloves Majesty Black-
Your also creating custom birthday gloves for Madonna’s 56th birthday via the amazing stylist Bea Akerund (stylist for Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna). How did this project come to life?
Bea is an amazing costume designer, stylist, Mom and fashion activist. http://www.bakerlund.com/ If you haven’t heard of her, look her up now. She is in fact, world renowned and known for creating many musicians careers in the industry through her unique and visionary eye. Not only has she styled and created Lady Gaga’s entrance to the world alongside her talented Husband, Jonas Akerlund. He directs the videos and she styles. Their work includes Paparazzi and Telephone featuring Beyonce. She works with many more artists, Rihanna, Beyonce, Britney Spears and is very close friends with Madonna. She styled the Superbowl halftime show for Madonna feat Nicki Minaj and MIA. She’s rad too and dope as fuck. I feel so lucky to be working with her and now also to be a featured designer on her new “social media site” launching soon, http://www.whoyouare.com/. A place for designers, illustrators, musicians and artists to connect, collaborate and work together to get discovered. Consider it the new FB for fashion?
-Majesty Black Gloves on the cover of Madonna’s NEW CD-
Ok back to the story… to go back in time, I had just launched my label and online store in Nov of 2012. In 2013 I began to sell in stores and my product found it’s way to a sick shop in NYC called, Shop Untitled. I got a call from the owner, Gapu, one day in October and he let me know that Madonna had purchased two pairs of my Armor Gloves. I was struggling to keep my collection and business afloat and this was the news I needed to hear at that moment. It propelled me to continue to push. It wasn’t long afterwards that someone posted an image of Madonna on the red carpet at the opening of her Berlin Gym, “Hard Candy.” From then on, many more images began to surface of her in our gloves. Bea, a close friend and stylist to Madonna was at M’s house one day and recounted to me how M pulled our gloves out of her closet to show B them and said, “I fucking love these gloves.” B had heard about me from House of Malakai, and they had worked together previously to style a massive add campaign for H&M and Beyonce. Malakai had mentioned to her about my collection and showed her some of our things. At this moment, B and I were not connected until this little closet moment with Madonna, it all clicked and B and I began to connect. I inquired how her gloves were doing and if she needed replacements, wondering if they had been getting to much wear or what not and she inquired if I would be open to making Madonna a pair of gloves, with B, for Madonna’s Birthday on August 14th. I snapped to action and created two custom pairs of Armor Gloves with word cut outs in the knuckle hardware and side plates. I put MDNA MDNA on the knuckles and wanted to write something down the side plates vertically. I had been following her on Instagram and there was one post that struck me and I had a psychic reaction to, it was a picture of a neon sunset and a hash tag that said, #rebelheart. I decided to put rebel heart down the side plates, because I’m a fucking rebel heart too and I felt this connection to her. We embedded 56 Black Diamonds in the gloves as well, for her 56th Birthday. I sent the gloves to France where Jonas and Bea Akerlund received them and brought to her on her Birthday to give them to her in person. Now at this time we all knew she was working on her album but no one knew the name. After I sent the gloves, rumors began to surface that her hash tag rebel heart was the name of not only the track off her next 13th album, but could in fact be the title of the album. I had no idea when I chose to use these words on her gloves. It was a very synchronistic moment, almost destined to be.
-Madonna wearing Majesty Black Gloves with Anne Hathaway-
It would be 5 months before I would see an image or hear anything about these gloves again, till the other day. I discovered an image taken by Mert and Marcus of Madonna for her album deluxe version of Rebel Heart, which is the collectors 2 disc Album available for pre-order now on Amazon.com. In the iconic image, Madonna is clutching her breasts wearing our Birthday gloves! We are still not sure if this will be the final cover for “The Super Deluxe Rebel Heart Album” or not, but on Amazon.com it looks as if so and I am beyond thrilled about this. It seems like she was saving them for something major and this is fucking major. Fuck, I love her I hope she knows this.
Later on in 2014 I would eventually be contacted by M’s personal assistant to create custom gloves for her, which then in turn lead to Malakai and I getting booked to Assist Bea Akerlund with costuming for the Dancers for the new Albums Debut music video, “Living for Love.” We made 20 pantsuits with suspenders that included custom embroidery design by my graffiti friend “Presone” and added laser-cut mirrors and studs. We topped the look off with custom designed gloves for her 20 dancers. Towards the end of the gig I booked a flight to hand deliver the costumes to NYC to Bea and her team. It was then that I was called one night to go downstairs of the hotel I was staying at, and be whisked away to a secret location where the rehearsal was taking place. Unknowingly was about to meet the Queen, yes, I met Madonna! I was able to shake her hand and look into her icy blue eyes. Her eyes are everything you guys!
-Madonna wearing Majesty Black Gloves with Pussy Riot-
I have always been a rebel and cannot resist a challenge. I have always been told, No, JD, you cannot do that, this will not work, that’s impossible, give up now, stop trying, that’s not marketable, that’s not sellable, tone it down, take it down a level, it’s too much. I’m so lucky that throughout the struggle of making the most impossible thing to create, by pushing myself harder than I have ever been called to work in my life, that one of my life dreams has now come true. As an artist, I’m so blessed. By not listening to anyone else, doing exactly what I wanted to do and create has now culminated to working out this way and meeting one of my Idols. Its not an easy task to step into your fullness, uniqueness and brilliance of who you are but my advice is to do you, boo. You may be blown away at what you get in trade for not listening to others and facing your own fears. The rewards the universe offers on other side of self-acceptance, self-work, hard fucking WORK, fearlessness, diligence and bravery are beyond your wildest dreams.
I remember when I first met you, you stood out so brightly and I always admired your personal style. Now the world can share in your greatness and wear a piece of your creations. Where can our readers purchase Majesty Black?
Our SS15 Guild Collection is set to debut for sales in stores near you, as well as our Web Store in March 2015. http://majestyblack.com/
Dark Beauty readers get 10% off on Majesty Black Gloves! Use the Discount Promocode: DarkBeauty10
What other artists have been wearing your brand?
Justin Barker, our brands amazing Manager. Adam Lambert who is now on tour singing for QUEEN (that makes sense right? Majesty Black?), Bea Akerlund, Amanda Lepore, Dawn Richards who just debuted her new album, “Black Heart.” The gorgeous and amazing talented fashion designer duo, Phillipe & David Blond of “The Blonds.” Ooah, Justin Boretta and Edit of the famous EDM Band, “The Glitch Mob.” The talented Topher Adam of Dark Beauty Magazine and many more that I can’t think of and are top secret for now.
Any fashion predictions or trends you see on the horizon?
Majesty Black’s Debut AW15 Collection Paris Fashion Week, Showing in the heart of Les Marias March 4th– 9th. That’s my prediction, appointments only please. Send us an email if you would like to view the new collection: email@example.com
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
Majesty Black of course!
PARIS FASHION WEEK
Majesty Black has been working around the clock over the last few months getting our Madonna projects finished in time for the deadlines. We’ve also been trying to balance our wholesale production orders and various other custom projects for many other clients. Somehow amongst all of this, we have managed to put together a new collection for Paris Fashion Week. This collection will be much different from anything else we have created. We are experimenting with new hardware and leather treatments and keeping in mind the cold season that this collection is geared towards. The collection will be very sophisticated, feminine and chic. We look forward to showcasing alongside two Designers, Monarch1 and House of Malakai, whom we highly respect and adore. Our showroom will be in the heart of Les Marais, in the epicenter of Paris Fashion weeks finest top high end designer showrooms. We are currently accepting appointments from stylists and shop buyers. Representing Majesty Black in Paris will be Designer Joshua Reno & Executive Manager Justin Barker. We invite you to come see us there. For appointments contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
PFW AW15 March 4th-9th
127 Rue Vieille Du Temple
SS15 Guild Collection Video
Model / Film maker couple: Krystal Chenut and Vincent Lacroq
Music Beryllium by Nezzi Idy
Makeup / Hair Juno Pechelkina
Jewelry Parts of 4
Joshua David Images
Photographer Kyoung Kim
Madonna Delux Cover Album
Photographer Mert and Marcus
Stylist Arianna Phillips
Gloves Majesty Black
-Majesty Black Gloves on the cover of Madonna’s NEW CD-
“The Super Deluxe Two Disc 25 Track Collectors CD and Vinyl record” available for pre order NOW: http://www.amazon.com/ released on MARCH 10TH!