There was a period in my life (when I still had access to a Sky box and a real television) when my viewing pleasure of choice was Miami Ink. Ms Kat von D, tattooist to the stars, was one of my favourite teevee personalities, and last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with her to discuss clothes, tattooing and the life of an alternative girl.
Kat was in town (such a showbizzy expression) to promote the new collection from her clothing line, Kat von D Los Angeles, which is, as you might expect, not your average celeb fashion collection (if it was, it wouldn't be on this blog, that's for sure.) The clothes are a direct extension of Kat's own unique style, which is something I got to discuss with the lady herself...
"When I grew up, all I listened to was church and classical music, but then when I was about 15 I discovered punk rock and that changed everything. The way I dress has always been heavily influenced by the music I listen to." Kat explains on her website that she has been making clothes from a young age, and her love of music just encouraged her to try more outrageous ways to customise garments. "I think there are a lot of girls like that too, we did a video on my site on how to make your own ripped tee and everyone went crazy for it!"
When asked if she ever got stick for dressing in an alternative way at school, Kat shrugs it off but says that "everyday, someone will look at you in a strange way, but as long as you feel confident, that's all that matters." It's a good way to be, but something you definitely grow into...
Kat von D Los Angeles 'Treasure Coast'
"This collection is all about expressing yourself, I'm so inspired by nature and the almost spiritual aspect of it. Also memories - I draw on my own past for inspiration. For example with the first collection, a lot of the clothes were lined with fabric that was printed with my old love letters and journals. The colours of this collection were definitely taken from nature, from the forest greens, to the dark rust, which came from the idea of a ship's chain which had been at the bottom of the ocean for years."
"I'm obsessed with detailing - from the fabrics, to the buttons, to the linings, I make sure they all have something special. I work with a great team who help me to achieve what I imagine. I also won't put anything out there that I wouldn't wear myself."
"Designing for the summer months is always hard for me because I can't make people wear black all the time... but all the pieces are available a black option, of course!"
[Gbird: girl after my own heart]
I watched the catwalk show and can safely say that there are a lot of pieces in Kat's latest offering that I would wear myself - she's a fan of the skinny trouser/leathers, lots of motorbike detailing, slim jackets with defined shoulders and an amazing bustier dress that any pin-up would be proud of. It's still got all the gothic/dramatic/dark touches that you would expect, but they are the kind of clothes that can be styled how you want, depending how much like Lisbeth Salander you are feeling that day (today I'm on about 65%) It's great to see the devil in the details too - everywhere you look Kat has left her personal touch, just like her instantly identifiable tattoo style. Obviously, I wanted to find out all about her life as an internationally acclaimed tattoo artist, author and TV personality (jealous, me? well, alright maybe a bit.)
"I did my first tattoo when I was 14 and it felt like the most natural thing. I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil, according to my mum! I just loved it."
"People often ask if it was harder for me as a girl to get into tattooing but actually I don't think that was the case, if anything then it worked in my favour. It is a male dominated industry, but it is also one that judges people on their talent and skill, so I just had to prove myself - which is lucky, because as a girl we are good at doing that."
"Tattooing has meant I've met and tattooed a lot of my heroes. A friend of mine pointed out that it's a real honour when one of your heroes is walking round with your artwork on them, it's kind of a mutual respect thing."
I asked about her favourite clients, but Kat isn't keen to name-drop. "It's not so much the people as the projects that I'm proud of. I get excited about every new piece of work."
Not that she has much space left, but Kat is still adding to her own collection of inkings. "I'm working on my back piece because I'm just finishing off the third book - which is less of a biography, more of a visual documentation of life - and in that, I detail my back piece so it's time to get it done!" She is also still filming a documentary that should be out this year, along with taking vocal coaching lessons to prepare for recording an album. Not to mention running High Voltage, her tattoo shop back in L.A. and neighbouring Wonderland boutique where she curates exhibitions from some of her favourite artists. It's safe to say that Kat is a very busy lady right now - and to think, it all stems from her talent with a tattoo gun.
"I'm still amazed at how far tattooing has taken me today" she tells me, just before running off for the catwalk presentation.
It's often weird, meeting someone who you admire, but I'm happy to report that Kat was everything you'd expect - she's a creative, romantic soul who is working hard and who isn't afraid to express herself.
The Treasure Coast collection will be available soon from
All images: Georgina Langford