Brix Smith-Start - ‘If you don’t feel confident in something get it off’
PUBLISHED: 21:52 27 March 2015 | UPDATED: 21:52 27 March 2015
She was a member of the cult Manchester band, The Fall and is married to fashion mogul Philip Start. Of course Brix Smith-Start knows a thing or two about rock chic!
Rock chick and owner of a small chain of exclusive designer boutiques Brix Smith-Start is the perfect role model for any woman who fears they won’t be able to ‘do fashion’ when they get older.
We meet at Selfridges Exchange Square where she is appearing as part of a recent collaboration with the newly re-vamped Whitworth Art Gallery based around the theme of Bright Old Things, though she really is anything but ‘old’.
Wearing a black shift by US designer Rick Owens, Brix is fashionable with a ‘rock chick’ twist. Of course this is the woman who quit a life in the USA for Manchester during the grey 1980s when she married Mark E Smith of cult band The Fall (a man she still proclaims a ‘genius’ even though he broke her heart). A woman who hung out with violinist Nigel Kennedy, who introduced her to the royals (that went pear shaped and I ended up having to move back to America and live in a friend’s garage and work as a waitress) before tying the knot with fashion entrepreneur Philip Start. She won more mainstream fame when she became a regular on Gok’s Fashion Fix and is currently re-igniting her musical career with ex members of her old band.
It is both her music and fashion careers that have brought her back to Manchester on a number of occasions.
‘It’s changed a lot,’ she says.
‘But it’s still the same, perhaps a bit more gentrified - I mean they did not have Selfridges. I remember Kendals. That was really the only place to shop that and a few boutiques but of course I was really poor then so I shopped in a lot of markets and Afflecks Palace and Church sales .
‘Look I was born and bred in Beverley Hills in “an old pink crumbling Hollywood mansion”. I learned how to shop at a very young age. My mother was a single mom and didn’t have loads of money but she would take me to a store called Sears which is kind of like Debenhams and say “ you can pick out anything you want” and nothing is wrong and everything goes with everything, so if you want to wear checks with paisley and fringing that’s fine.
‘ I was about five and that time and I learned to style myself and express myself by being creative. It wasn’t even about how much it was or whether it was ‘designer’ it was more about putting an outfit together and to get across what you needed to get across.
‘And as I got older and more into the fashion business I realised what an asset it is to be able to express yourself that way and also not have a fear. it all comes down to how you feel in what you’re wearing.’
Her favourite designer is Rick Owens who recently sent his male models down the AW 15 catwalk showing their dangly bits.
‘He’s so cool, he’s just wild. I’ve been to his house . His place is on the Place de Bourbon in Paris, so it’s the most beautiful French Square and one the first two floors are his showroom and upstairs is his apartment and basically there’s a chair that looks like this (points to a contemporary armchair)...but made of cement and covered in a mink throw. It’s minimal and opulent at the same time. He’s so creative!’
I wear a lot of Rick Owens just because it suits my personality. it’s a bit grungy a bit rock and roll but has elegance to it. I think it’s pretty timeless. I have about 14 of his leather jackets - I try to get one every season. I love Margiela, because it’s again architectural and classic with a twist. It’s really clean (design) but there’s an intelligence behind it.
‘I’m super into power dressing but what I mean is to enhance what I need to get done that day, so if I am doing a gig it’s a go-to absolute thing so you’re not fussing or pulling, so everything’s about achieving a goal of the day. So if I know I am going to be on TV it’s a different way of dressing because the camera picks up on different things it’s all about the silhouette. it’s about dressing for success - even if it’s just going on a picnic.’
I think everyone has inside them an instinctive feeling when they put something on and feel good in it. You need to look in the mirror and be completely honest. listen to your emotional set point which will tell you.
And if you don’t feel confident in something get it off. In LA I wore pyjamas to meetings. They were drawstring grey and I would wear them with a strong lipstick and I would feel fabulous because I was more comfortable than everyone else in the room...in my mind.
‘Clothes are like battle armour and sometimes just buying something new makes you feel fabulous that’s why they are powerful and that’s why the fashion industry is as big as it is.’
Brix Smith-Start: the lowdown
Favourite designers: Rick Owens Maison Margiela, Prada
Favourite High Street: Zara
Old haunts: Kendals (House of Fraser), Afflecks, The Editeur in Cheshire
Tip: If you don’t feel confident in something get it off
Faber publish Brix’s autobiography The Rise the Fall and the Rise later this year