Cody Ross of PRIESTESS NYC characterizes his label’s aesthetic as a blend of ‘transgression, kitsch and street-style.’ Part 80’s revival, part futurism with a smattering of goth-glam, Priestess NYC incorporates urban-girl cool with a contemporary take on punk.
Richly textured and in a range of kinetic colors and prints, the looks embody an off-beat sophistication and are polished, nuanced and highly directional. A-listers and pop-icons such as Bjork, M.I.A., Natalie Portman, and Katy Perry have all donned the label, and Cody’s clothes sell in progressive stores and boutiques around the world. Priestess NYC is totally wearable and perfectly fuses bleeding-edge with outstanding construction, fit and finish. Price range: $100-$650. His site is at www.priestessnyc.com.
Q: Tell us a little bit about Priestess NYC. What was your motive in starting the label?
A: I’ve been passionate about fashion and art since I can remember! When I was a kid my mom had an amazing wardrobe. In particular, she had Braniff stewardess uniforms (designed by Emilio Pucci) with wild patterns and colorful prints that really excited me! Generally, Priestess is about ‘transgression’, kitsch and street-style clothing. The label’s underpinnings are a blend of underground, cult, modernist and directional themes.
Priestess NYC is a range of womenswear and unisex stuff. The broad aesthetic leans toward the edgy and avant-garde. The clothes are totally wearable and thoroughly approachable – especially for girls who have a penchant for ‘street-wear’ and love distinct and weird stuff – from art and fashion to music, etc.
Q: You spent some time working in Asia as a financial analyst, and subsequently made the leap to pursue your true passion – womenswear design. Was this something you always wanted to do? Or did it happen spontaneously?
A: Yeah, I went to the LSE and focused on economics, mathematics and markets. After that I went to Shenzhen and Shanghai (China) to work in finance,then I moved back to NYC. But I’ve always gravitated to the quirky and off-beat art and fashion scenes and I’ve always wanted to work in the fashion industry. So I launched the label and it got off to a momentous start.
Q: You have been cited as stating that “mathematics” play an integral part in your line and actually inspire some of the items. What notions from mathematics inspire and influence your designs?
A: I’m very focused on craft, authorship and commerce and yes, math is an intriguing and recurring influence when developing the collections. In particular, fractals and power-laws have been an interest of mine and I’m really into the work of Benoît Mandelbrot. Fractal geometry is super-interesting because its all about patterns and shapes reflecting linear and non-linear ‘self-similarity.’ As a visual expression, fractal shapes are beautiful, too. Randomness is also a very interesting property, and is living in all systems, from fashion and art to finance and business. So I’m always thinking of these notions and frequently incorporate them into the collection’s silhouettes, patterns and prints.
Q: All the rage is about your Atelier, located in the heart of New York’s West Village. Tell me a little bit about your working space?
A: The Priestess NYC atelier is a studio located in the bottom of an amazing Federalist-style brownstone on West 4th street. It’s filled with kitschy knick-knacks, cool art, toys and clothes. It’s sort of a ’repository’ for weird, off-beat items such as blow-up dolls, hentai-inspired installation art, tons of fashion magazines, cool accessories, home décor and, of course, lots of fashion. It’s colorful and vibrant and the traffic is equally stimulating and fun. The atelier is where the collections are conceived and the samples are prototyped. There is an over-scaled glow-in-the-dark Stalin statue wearing a panda-shower cap, surrealist paintings by Zhou Fan, photos by David LaChapelle and prosthetic hands brandishing spiked-leather gloves, etc. It’s kind of like living/working in a Dali painting!
Q: Whats behind the name Priestess NYC?
A: As for the name, well, a priest or PRIESTESS is a ‘person having the authority or power to administer religious rites’ and therefore in a position to exercise influence over others. In the context of fashion, I was thinking of that certain (‘Priestess’) girl who has ‘powers of persuasion’ and exhibits extreme individualism, and she distinguishes herself in terms of fashion/style. Priestess NYC seemed the appropriate name for a ‘directional’ fashion label and I had in mind a supremely off-beat, fashion-forward girl capable of exercising influence effortlessly – that is, if she wanted to do so!
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Unisex stuff.
Q: Who are some of your icons that have influenced who you are as both an individual and a creative thinker?
A: My dad, who taught me all about product development and marketing. Fashion-wise, I love all things Martin Margiela and Jeremy Scott. Intellectually and philosophically, I’m really into Ayn Rand, Benoît Mandelbrot and lately I’m really into Nassim Taleb’s work. I also love i-D magazine and Ryan Dye’s Spiral Mag.
Q: Plans for the future of Priestess NYC?
A: To continue making cool clothes and accessories.
Images courtesy of Priestess NYC.