From Britney's 'Oops...I Did It Again!' Era to Camila Cabello's 2017 BBMAs Performance, Musicians Love Wearing L.A. ROXX
"There is a shift from what sexy meant to what sexy is now, and my clients are pushing those boundaries," Sharon Rahim says.
"Leather is in my blood," says designer Sharon Rahim of his brand, L.A. Roxx's edgy aesthetic. As a teenager in the late 80's and early 90's, the LA-bred creative worked as a salesman at his older brother's custom leather shop on Hollywood Blvd, seeing first-hand how his siblings crafted jackets for everyone from heavy metal hair bands like Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Poison, and Skid Row to pop artists such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, George Michael, and Prince.
Ten years after taking over the company, Rahim has successfully maintained the family tradition by creating one-of-a-kind pieces for today's A-List musicians. From Britney Spears' famous red leather jumpsuit in her "Oops!... I Did It Again" music video, to the badass pieces worn by Taylor Swift and her girl gang in the "Bad Blood" visual, Rahim has carefully crafted a plethora of memorable garments.
While he also counts Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande as fans of his work, Rahim insists that you don't have to be a Grammy-nominated artist to sport his merchandise. "The LA Roxx person is anybody that has the attitude, confidence, and wants to stand out. They want that one item or statement piece that separates them from the rest," he says. Billboard Style spoke exclusively with Rahim about the stunning outfits he's been created over the years, why he's "not afraid to push boundaries" and the evolution of his clientele.
Who was the first artist you designed a custom L.A. Roxx piece for and how did they find you?
In 2010, Brandon Maxwell, who was assisting Nicola Formichetti (Diesel's first artistic director) at the time was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and saw me outside my old shop. We talked for a moment, and he asked me if I knew where he could find a gold leather jacket. I showed him a gold metallic crop biker we just made, and Lady Gaga ended up wearing that jacket for a performance a few days later. Although it wasn't my first custom piece, I give that chance encounter a lot of credit; it propelled me onto this plane. About a week after, he got in touch and we started working together on custom pieces. Recently, Gaga’s sister Natali Germanotta, Lisa Bruno and Sandra Amador (all a part of Gaga's style team), got in touch about the Superbowl, which was really exciting (exclusive sketch below). Lots of back and forth and collaboration. We helped realize their vision and designed for the backup dancers as well, including lots of denim and patent leather accents.
The BBMAs were a huge night for you as well.
In general, I’m a big fan of collaboration. I love working with stylists and other artists, and for the BBMAs, Maeve Reilly and B. Akurland requested some stuff made for Halsey and Nicki Minaj (respectively) to complete their looks. On top of that, Joseph Cassell (Taylor Swift's stylist) hit me up late Wednesday night about a collaboration between him, designer Jessica Jones, and Camila Cabello for the show as well. We stayed up three days straight to make sure Camila looked amazing for her solo debut.
Why do you think that musicians are drawn to your pieces?
I have been lucky to work with iconic performers that have important messages and statements in the art they make, even if it's subconscious. I work with them and their team to create something they love that works for the project. Some music videos I do are like short films with storylines and dreamscape sets where you have to work within themes and plots. Live performances are special because they’re like rituals between fans and artists. I’m not afraid to push boundaries in these circumstances.
After being in the business for so long, how do you stay inspired?
I think it’s the collaboration process; artists working together to literally--from conception to fruition, within a couple days or weeks--to bring a vision to life. When I see them wearing my stuff, it’s very rewarding and I feed off that energy. I take things I’ve done before and try to rethink parts of them into something new yet timeless.
What is the biggest change you’ve noticed with your customers?
A couple of things! Some client relationships turn into friendships which always make projects fun to work on. Also, there is a shift from what sexy meant to what sexy is now. For example, baggy pants and oversized jackets can be sexy. And manipulating fabrics; Ten years ago, sexy meant tight body contour or lingerie pieces. Now, sexy represents more than that. My customers are thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries with their aesthetic, attitude and what they’re trying to express. I like to work with people that have a strong message and those who influence the conversation.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between music and fashion?
Music and fashion absolutely influence one another. Artists are drawn to artists and today’s musicians are paving the way for what people want to see in clothing and what to wear. We’re all artists, and we all feed off of each other and I think that’s really important. For example, Simi & Haze Khadra (sketch below) are two sisters who DJ, and it seems like everybody has been looking at them recently for style and fashion inspiration. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them for the past few months, helping develop some ideas and doing some custom pieces. They’re very hands-on and know what they like, so we get each other.
Who do you like to listen to while designing in your studio?
The truth is I don’t always listen to music in the studio. My guys usually listen to their stuff, but I find myself in the car a lot of the time sourcing fabrics and materials. When it’s not NPR or [Howard] Stern, I'm playing Kendrick Lamar or this band Tropic Of Cancer.
What can fans look forward to next?
I’ve been considering starting my own line. I have some reservations about it, but I want to do something different; it’s a work in progress. I just opened up a little concept shop on Hoover in East Hollywood where we’re experimenting. We have some of our custom leather items, pieces I’m considering adding to the Sharon Rahim line, really incredible vintage items I’ve found along the way, and some of the legacy jackets from my brother’s time.