Alexis Akridge ’14, a Detroit, Mich. native, sat down with me for lunch on an early Saturday afternoon in snack bar, dressed casually in a sleeveless navy blue button-down and black jeans, with bright red lips complementing her (prescription!) bright red glasses.
So tell me about your style. Do you consider yourself fashionable?
Well, fashion is material, and style is more inherent. It’s inexplicable. I try not to be materialistic, and I’m not a trendy person. I shop mostly at thrift stores; I like to think I’m not supporting some sweatshop-fueled consumerism. I’m not into trends – I’m into honesty. If trends are your thing, then that’s your style and I’ll love that. My style isn’t about putting other people down. Although, I think people who are all, “I’m above fashion, I’m above style,” don’t recognize that our world is very visual, and that the way you dress is a way of communicating with people. They’re demeaning something they don’t understand. I take pride in dressing the way I feel every morning. My style changes as much as I do. It’s whoever I am at the moment.
I totally agree with you. So, what has your style been like recently?
I love glasses. I’m just very interested in glasses. People think my glasses are so hipster but I really just bought them because I don’t have insurance and they were the cheapest frames available. I’ve been wearing a lot of red lipstick, mostly black and grey clothing. Right now I’m building from a very neutral place, and I want to wear simple things with pink hair and crazy glasses. I’m really into hair. I’ve had faux dreads, it’s been dyed hot pink, teal … I was blonde once. I used to wear really long weaves. I want to dye it lavender next.
What influences the way you dress?
Literally everything. I’ll hear a song and decide I want to be that song. I’m a ’90s baby, so all this tacky stuff from the ’90s, like Clarissa Explains It All, influences my style. Everything from Swedish graphic design to music influences me. I dress the way I feel, and I’m honest about that. I’m not going to wear yellow when I’m pissed off.
Are there any specific people who inspire you?
Detroit drag queens, RuPaul … I’ve grown up with drag queens doing my hair, and I pull a lot of inspiration from them. They know that everything we do is a joke. It’s all a show, an exaggeration. They just have so much power from being able to define themselves. Lately I’ve been into male fashion models. My favorite is Andrej Pejic. I don’t believe in masculinity or femininity, and he’s the most androgynous model I’ve ever seen.
No favorite designers?
No. Well, Alexander McQueen, he was a genius. If I had to choose one person whose philosophy affects my style, it would be Kesh. She does mostly graphic design and makes all of her own clothing.
I notice you have a lot of piercings.
Yeah, I look for ways besides clothing to express myself aesthetically, which is why I’m really into hair and piercings. I got the ones in my right ear, seven total, after I saw a picture of my mom at my age. She had the same piercings. I got the nose piercing because I’ve always wanted one and the left ear piercings because I initially wanted to put a chain from my nose to my ear. I have pretty high pain tolerance.
I’m going to sound like my mom saying this, but this follows: Do you have any tattoos?
Not yet! But I want a sleeve on my arm, no color. It won’t have a theme, but I really like graphic art, so I know my sleeve is going to be this weird arrangement of different patterns and shapes that have meanings for me and all fit together. That’s the one thing my mom draws the line on, the sleeve. I have hope though, it just takes time for her to get used to my ideas.
It sounds like your mom has some say in your style.
Yeah, if there’s one person whose opinion I care about when it comes to my style, it’s my mother. I still want her support because she’s always let me do what I want, so I feel like I owe it to her. She has seven tattoos so she can’t really say anything about my plans to get one. They didn’t ruin her life, and they won’t affect mine. That’s what’s superficial, when you think a tattoo is going to change who you can be, how successful you’re going to be and what impact you’ll have on the world. I don’t want to work with anyone who thinks otherwise … guess I’m going to be homeless.