Brittany Byrd is feeling herself. Or at least, that’s how she describes this very moment of her young adulthood. And rightfully so.
Nestled in a small booth in the middle of a downtown NYC Thai restaurant, Brittany is hard to miss. With an ensemble equally as bright as her signature pink hair, there’s forever an energy that radiates from the designer that naturally draws in anyone who congregates in the same room as her. Whether or not she’s aware of this, I’m still unable to tell.
I first met Brittany a little over a year ago, when we both were navigating our third year of design school. In fact, one could say it was in a moment of solidarity that we, two black girls, were able to bond over the fact that we were one of only a few in our program. At the time, Brittany had yet to settle on that bright pink hair she’s become known for, and she was still cultivating the effortless presence she has today.
In her own words, Brittany is “someone who watches Spongebob and is obsessed with juxtaposition no matter the medium, no matter the person or place.” Though many know her as a social media star, and the girlfriend-slash-muse of one of today’s most popular rappers, at only 23, Brittany has been quietly changing the design world on her own. Born and raised in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, the California-to-New York transplant began her venture into the fashion world with a West Coast influence that quickly shaped her self-described tomboy style. With a love for Converse sneakers (I mean, she even had the screen name ‘“IRockChuckTs” to prove it), Byrd eventually moved on to play basketball in high school, claiming the spot of the 8th best shooting guard in California, while playing on a team sponsored by Nike. “Ball was really life!” she exclaimed, throwing her head back with laughter. “But I always knew that I had a passion to pursue fashion — I always sort of knew if basketball didn’t work out, I had something to fall back on.”
After briefly attending St. John University in NYC, before moving on to become the fashion director of an L.A-based fashion magazine, Byrd got one of her first introductions to the fashion world. While working with stylist, AllanTroy, Brittany met Lindsay Lohan, who she’s styled on several occasions. After hitting it off, Byrd went to Europe with the actress, where she worked on freelance projects, styling and her creative relationship with Lohan. While there, Byrd also developed a close relationship with LVMH and really started to understand the true business of fashion. At the same time, Alessandro Michele took over at Gucci, showing Byrd, “if your energy’s real and you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be afraid to go to that top spot.”
It was this time overseas, both during the early stages of her career and again while on tour, that Brittany Byrd developed a love for hotel interiors. And it was that love that translated into her interests in furniture and set design.
Before walking across the stage at her Parsons 2017 graduation, Brittany had already made a name for herself in fashion, working on a special project for this year’s Met Gala. With a theme based on her idol, Rei Kawakubo, it seemed appropriate to have Byrd bringing her set design skills to one of the industry’s biggest events. “The project came about through me getting the word out that I actually do set design,” Byrd reveals. “A lot of people don’t know that’s what I actually do.” From there, Brittany worked with the design team to create a floral staircase for the lobby of The Met, creating a 3D set that mimicked the Ball’s idea of fantasy. “Seeing the months of preparation and to really be there for 3 days straight, 13 hours a day — it’s insane because you know it all started down from one idea of a flower.”
Drawn to the Japanese art style’s idea of fantasy and innocence, the love of anime is something she’s carried with her since childhood. Brittany’s personal and design aesthetic has remained consistently inspired by Harajuku culture, which she’s managed to incorporate into nearly everything she does.
“I’m not minimal,” she says. “My house isn’t minimal, my silhouettes aren’t minimal. My hair, as you know, is not minimal,” she laughs. “I am a maximalist! But when it comes to design, I wouldn’t necessarily say my furniture is loud, just aesthetically pleasing. Everything is hand-crafted down to the bones of it.”
“Negativity is just like cancer. I don’t see the negativity — it doesn’t exist. My life is beautiful, I have so much to be thankful for. To try to prove to somebody else that their opinion’s wrong — I’m in my own pink, B.B town.”
Her goal is to produce furniture for luxurious young professionals somewhere in the long term. And even though you probably won’t be able to purchase her furniture anytime soon, Parsons tapped the then-senior to bring her aesthetic to the interior of its W 13th Street building, where you’ll soon be able to see Byrd’s ‘60s-inspired psychedelic pieces taking over.
With her Instagram following of nearly 140,000, it’s safe to say Brittany has built a loyal fan base, many of which are teens and young adults curious to know her every move. And though Brittany has remained somewhat elusive online when it comes to her personal life and accomplishments, her goal is to always use her platform to spread positivity.
“Negativity is just like cancer,” she says of her experience on the web. “I don’t see the negativity — it doesn’t exist. My life is beautiful, I have so much to be thankful for. To try to prove to somebody else that their opinion’s wrong — I’m in my own pink, B.B town.”
It’s Brittany’s ability to block out negativity that makes her so admirable, especially in a time when the obsession with one’s online presence means everything. As a young black artist who’s had her share of criticisms in the public eye, Brittany’s refreshing outlook on life is what draws people to to her. That, and her addictive personality.
After spending the last year creative directing, styling and supporting her boyfriend, the 23-year-old has been able to witness special moments on tour she describes as inspirational. When asked what it’s like to have a significant other with such a huge following in today’s music industry, her response is immediate:
“It’s dope,” she admits. “To see someone so surreally manifest their art — it’s beautiful. It’s inspirational to me and the fans. Sometimes it’s crazy how I can’t walk down the street or open my window without hearing a song. It’s kind of like constant motivation — you’re working on your art, I’m working on my art, let’s keep going.”
In sticking to her mantra of staying unbothered by what people have to say about her, Brittany has spent her time focusing on the future and expanding her own artistic endeavors.
“The biggest misconception people have about me?” she questions, throwing her head back. “Man, I wouldn’t know, to be completely honest. I only wouldn’t know because I don’t delve into what other people think about me. I’m kind of self-absorbed in that way.”
Maybe it is her own self-interests that has helped guide her to this point in life, or even her strong spirituality. As someone who was born into a Christian household, Brittany spent most of her life praying. But it wasn’t until she turned 18 that she started to delve deeper into her own personal belief. In fact, the first of many of her tattoos was a cross on the back of her hand, something she initially got after a spiritual trip out to Palm Springs shortly after her 18th birthday. It was there she began to educate herself on other religions, and from there, learned the power of belief.
“I started to learn about other religions and to me the power of belief never proved me wrong,” she explains. “Thoughts really become things.”
It’s the combination of this belief and her drive that has lead Brittany Byrd to be one of the most influential young icons of today.
As she goes on to pursue life outside of school, the recent college graduate plans to spend the next few years building her legacy and inspiring those who look up to her and her work.
“I stand for pride and individuality,” she says. “Action. Whatever your purpose is or whatever you think your purpose is, actually do it. If you want to make a clothing line or you admire a designer, design. If you don’t have a screen printer, write on your shirt, write on your shoes. It’s crazy how you go to Bergdorf’s and there are a pair of $1200 Vetements Reeboks in there that look like they’ve been drawn on. Kids have been doing that for years. Just really be a person action. Discover who you are, and live in that — thrive in it.”
Photography: Brad Ogbonna
Styling: Brittany Byrd
MUA: Sage White
Production Assistant: Rilka Noel
Taken from Issue 00.