From Macy Smith’s (Pratt) Halloween themed thesis to Roni Ilan’s (Central St. Martins) sculptural statements, this year’s class of undergraduate fashion students are on that honor roll shit. Fresh outta Parsons, my pal Isabel Simpson-Kirsch’s work got straight B’s. These aren’t the kind of B’s Olga Pataki spent an entire Hey Arnold! episode sobbing over. For her last hurrah from the school that graduated Marc Jacobs and Donna Karen, Iz turned to someone we all know and love as both aesthetic and philosophical inspiration for her thesis: Lil’ B the BasedGod.
Dubbing her thesis “BASED”, Iz spent the academic year creating truly #rare tie-dyed bomber jackets, fishnet suede skits, mesh crop tops, and custom Tims straight out of Based World. Riding out for the Bitch Mob Task Force all over the Parsons runway, she’s been feeling a lot of internet positivity thanks to features on The Fader, Pitchfork, and FACT (Complex called her work “the greatest fashion school thesis ever.” Talk about #historical). I caught up with the newly crowned BasedGoddess to discuss all things BASED and what to expect from her next.
EM: First up, congrats on surviving Parsons! How you feeling right now?
ISK: Thank you, it feels crazy, there were so many times I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do it all and graduate. That school is too stressful haha but I’m so happy to be done, and senior year turned out to be a much better experience than I thought it would be.
EM: You’re easily the most Based person I’ve ever met. People get what they want out of Lil B’s music, but you’re someone who takes his message of positivity and totally runs with it. Did the collection come from that place, or was it just more visually inspired by Lil B?
ISK: First of all thank you haha I try to stay Based always. I would say that the collection came from his message, music and the visual aspects. I created the prints of Lil B on the faces of Hindu gods because I had a conversation with my teacher about how Hinduism was so huge in popular culture in the 1960s and 70s, and how that is kind of similar to what’s happening with Lil B now. He’s created a sort of secular spirituality; it gives people something to believe in without the aspects of a traditional “religion.”
EM: I remember the first night I hung out with you last summer, we went back to someone’s spot in Harlem and watched the “Ima Eat Her A$$” video and talked about Takin’ Over. I guess that’s pretty standard for you anyway, but were you starting to think about thesis at that point? What was the creative process like as far as zeroing in on how you wanted to achieve the BASED aesthetic?
ISK: Hahaha yes I remember that. Good shit. I was thinking about thesis for sure, but I hadn’t made the connection between my love for BasedGod and actually structuring my senior thesis around it. I had just finished reading Takin’ Over when I was about to start my senior year and thesis project. For your thesis, you’re supposed to pick an inspiration that you can explain thoroughly, you won’t get sick of after working nonstop on it for over nine months, and something that you are wholeheartedly connected to and interested in. The only thing that came to mind when I thought of what truly inspired me at that time was Lil B. So I just said fuck it, I’m gonna do my thesis about BasedGod. Then I tattooed “BASED” on my leg and started designing haha.
EM: How did the Parson’s faculty respond? Were they supportive in helping you channel your ideas or was it more like you having to prove the concept was worth allowing?
ISK: My teachers Max and Caroline were so supportive, it was amazing. I explained Lil B to them and they were like, “why not.” They are both very Based people and they really helped me channel my creativity into something that I was very happy with in the end. As far as the rest of the Fashion Department at my school, I’m sure there was a bit of a “what the fuck?” moment since my class was technically “eveningwear” haha. But being colorful, bold and unique in a school where most of my fellow students’ thesis color palettes were black and grey definitely got my work some positive attention.
EM: Do you think BASED falls in line with your design aesthetic on the whole? What types of things influence you?
ISK: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve had the same aesthetic for a while now; everyone at my school was always like, “I can tell what your work is without even looking at the name” haha. I would say that I’m influenced by a lot of different things, but mostly music; it probably drives most everything I do. Music is so powerful to me–it influences my mood, activities, everything. As far as designing clothes, I usually just think of something that I would want to wear, Google it, and if it doesn’t exist already, I make it.
EM: In that vein, I wanted to ask you about Nashville. I think the only thing I associate you with stronger than Lil’ B is Nashville. I know it’s directly inspired some of your other pieces, but how does it inform your work? Did Nashville find its way into BASED?
ISK: Yessss, I go so hard for Nashville; I can’t explain how thankful I am to have been raised there. I’m making Ca$hville snapbacks to go along with the beanies I’ve done in the past, they’ll be out in a few weeks. As far as BASED, my friends Davis and Tom from Nashville have been on Lil B for a long time and they really put me onto him and the whole BasedGod thing, so there would be no BASED without that. But Nashville as a place is so inspiring, there’s so much awesome creative stuff in music and art going on there, its amazing. The culture of Tennessee and the South as a whole is everything to me; I love it and it makes its way into my life daily.
EM: How did Lil’ B respond to the collection?
ISK: As you know, Lil B is totally on his own level. He’s SO in demand and a very difficult person to track down and really talk to. We’ve exchanged a few emails and DM’s on twitter. When I sent him my interview with the Fader he said “Dopeeee!” so I’m happy haha. Also, I’m going to the Pitchfork Festival to see him in July, so I’ll have a chance to give him some of the clothes.
EM: Favorite mixtape from Based World?
ISK: AHHHH such a hard question… one mixtape is so different than the one before. It depends on what mood I’m in I think. If I’m tryna have a moment and really think I’ll put on Illusions of Grandeur, Basedgod Velli maybe, or God’s Father, Obama Basedgod or Gold Dust. Then if I’m tryna turn up, Green Flame, any of the Flames pretty much, Bitch Mob Respect Da Bitch Vol. 1, Cooking with Basedgod, #1 Bitch, and Gold House. There’s a ton more, but those are probably the ones I listen to the most.
EM: You’ve been getting press like crazy, I’m sure people have been absolutely blowing your shit up. Any thoughts on what your next move is, career-wise?
ISK: Yeah it’s been INSANE all this press is blowing my mind haha, I didn’t expect this at all. But, the collection will be available this summer for everyone! Career wise imma just keep doing my thing!
EM: Ultimate goals/ hopes/ dreams/ cheesy yearbook writeup shit?
ISK: Just to try and be happy and always stay Based. That’s the ultimate goal for me. My motto is a quote from the BasedGod himself, “I don’t think there is such a thing as failure as long as you’re doing things you love.”- Lil Ugly Maneing