Boudoir Queen is the newest incarnation of Austin based designer Dawn Younger-Smith. Smith talks fashion, James Bond, Courtney Love, “dolly style”, and “the perfect dress”.
Interview: Shoshana, Photos: Courtesy of Dawn Younger-Smith
Q: You began your career in the arts as a make-up artist to the stars in Hollywood. What are some of your most memorable stories from that part of our career?
I worked in a few a salons in Beverly Hills where Barbara Streisand , Diana Ross an Faye Dunaway were regulars. One of the highlights of my make-up career was doing Lisa Marie Presley’s make-up . She of course has the face dreams are made of. Chynna Phillips was another favorite face. Bond girl Maude Adams was one of the most beautiful and nicest clients I had during my career. I also had the chance to be one of the make-up artists for Thierry Mugler’s runway show. It was an amazing experience and certainly started me thinking how wonderful it would be to be a designer. Unfortunately some of the most memorable stories I can’t tell.
Q: Does anything you learned as a make-up artist translate your current fashion work?
Yes definitely. I did a lot of editorial shoot’s and worked with several fabulous photographers. I learned a lot during that period about lighting and styling. I incorporate all of that into my designs, styling and photographs today.
Q: You eventually relocated from California to Austin, Texas. What prompted the move? Does the culture and climate of Austin play into your artistry at all?
The move from California to Austin was a very big deal for me. I had lived in California my entire life. My husband former Billy Idol guitar player Mark Younger-Smith was a musician in Austin. His work required him to be in Austin so I moved. Austin culture is interesting but I mainly sell to London, Los Angeles and New York.
Q: Boudoir Queen is your current fashion label. When did the designs begin to take shape?
My Boudoir Queen style started in Los Angeles . The idea for my designs came from my obsession with Boudoir Doll’s and 1920’s boudoir décor. My first designs were metallic lace cuffs and boudoir doll face purses made by me.
Q: What is your inspiration for the Boudoir Queen line?
The Boudoir Queen line is inspired by 1920’s Boudoir Art Doll’s. At one time I had over 500 of them. Unlike most dolls from the mid 20th century, which were made for children, boudoir dolls were made for ladies. Their elaborate gowns of silk, rosette flowers and metallic lace inspired me to design doll clothes for people. We specialize in “Dolly Style” I’ve noticed this style has become quite the trend in Japan right now.
Q: Your line is very elegant and luxurious, yet tattered and torn at the same time. Does this speak to your view of the feminine at all?
Yes, I think women and their fashion can be a little rough around the edges, but can still be quite beautiful inside and out.
Q: You have quite an impressive client list, including Emmy Lou Harris, Courtney Love, and The Veronica’s. What are some of your proudest moments as a designer?
A couple of months ago we designed a special corset and choker for Evan Rachel Wood to wear in the new Carney Video. The video turned out amazing.
One of my proudest moments as a designer was creating a dress for Patty Griffin to wear for the Elizabeth Town premiere where she performed. Her thanking us on her Impossible Dream CD was very exciting. Patty Griffin brought Emmy Lou Harris to our studio in Austin. They sang together that night and both wore BQ. Emmy Lou Harris also wore a custom BQ chiffon dress in one of her videos.
Making uber elaborate head-dresses for Karen Elson and Sarah Sophie Flicker for the Citizens band performance in New York was also a highlight. Most recently Courtney Love wore one of our Boudoir Queen designs a duck egg blue dress on stage with Bono at Carnegie Hall. The Veronica’s also wore our clothes on the hit T.V. show So You Think You Can Dance. That was pretty thrilling as well.
Q: Who are your fashion idols?
Anita Pallenberg, Marchesa Casati, Paul Poiret Catherine Baba and Edie Sedgwick are a few of my muses. I also love Bette Davis. It was rumored that she had an embroidered pillow in her room that said “No Guts No Glory” I have taken that as my motto. You have to take risks in the fashion business.
Q: In your opinion, what should women address first in searching for that “perfect dress”?
Whenever I personally search for the “perfect dress” I always look for the unusual. I found that this was starting to become very difficult and at that point started having my clothes made. I do think that the way a dress fits is most important.
Q: What should our female readers look for in the perfect fashion accessory?
Quality. It needs to be well made. I also like an accessory that I can wear with many different outfits. Versatility is key. My jeweled cuffs and our new Boudoir Be-Decked jewelry line are some of my personal favorites.
I also recommend a hot pair of shoes, large rings and BQ Tap Pants under everything. Our tap pants are taking off big time. You can take a peek at them on our new website www.TheBoudoirQueen.com