I first met Robert Charles or Rob, as I call him, through a mutual friend (Hey Peter!) at a New Orleans social gathering. We chatted it up, shared a few laughs and quickly became good friends. Rob is one those people that has a magnetic energy. If you’re not drawn in by how gorgerous he is, then you will definitely notice his incredible sense of style. Either way, you will want to know who’s that guy and what’s his story? A trait Rob believes has helped advance his career as a designer and stylist.
In the matter of a few years, Robert Charles has gone from an up-and-coming New Orleans designer, to a solidified style-maker that has had his designs worn by artists like Daley to Xscape. His career is a true example of what can happen when you not only tap into your greatness but also own the hell out of it.
Recently, Rob took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his brand, ideas, and clothing company R. Chvrles with me. Be sure to read my interview with Robert Charles now. I know it will leave you feeling incredibly inspired. Enjoy!
*Robert Charles and I on-set for the “Dev Takes LA” DATC photoshoot.
Deveney Marshall: Tell me about your journey as a fashion designer, what was the inspiration behind the R. Chvrles brand?!
Robert Charles: My journey on this road of fashion & design has been a very long one. In the beginning, I can honestly say I don’t think there was any real inspiration behind the brand I just knew i wanted to create & maybe tell a story with those creations.
DM: When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?
RC: I learned at a young age how alter clothing from my great-grand mother (may she Rest In Peace) thats when I was taught how to hand sew. It wasn’t ‘til I was in high school and coming into my own (as we all do as we get older) figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t as far as looks and styles. I always loved the suited tailored look and still do. I got my start by making bow-ties as time passed, getting the reaction I got I knew if I could do this I can definitely make and construct full garments…that’s when I knew.
DM: How did growing up in New Orleans influence you as an artist?
RC: Growing up in New Orleans was possibly the best thing that could’ve happened to me besides being born *laughs*. New Orleans has a vibe that really can’t be put into words. I believe we are a different breed of people almost like telling a story but you had to be there to really get it ya know? It has influenced me as an artist in many ways from the music, the art, the food, there’s no place like it so when I create I do it in such a way that you know you like it but you don’t know why. It’s intriguing and it’s doing something for you but you really can’t place your finger on it.
DM: You are someone I would consider to be a grand fashionisto! How is your personal style reflected in your designs?
RC: Thank you I really appreciate that! I push boundaries with my personal style, I feel like I reflect that in my designs when you see not so ordinary pieces like the jacket I made with fabric made of roses, a fabric that’s traditionally used for wedding dresses I just saw something different in it.
*R&B singer Daley wearing R. Chvrles Brand.
DM: Speaking of that fabulous piece, r&b artist Daley wore it for a few of his performances, which was huge! That is a testament in how much your career has truly blossomed. You’ve also designed for Dawn Richards and her back-up dancers, and most recently you designed for the legendary r&b group Xscape, how did those opportunities come about?
RC: Although I do feel like there’s much more to come (I hope *laughs*), I honestly feel like I was granted those opportunities by speaking up for myself. By not being afraid to speak on my talents and laying myself on the line. I’m a firm believer that you are your own biggest supporter, outside of family & friends no one can or will grind for you like YOU can. So I believe if you want to be in a certain place you have to work for it put yourself in THAT place.
DM: Amen to that! I know for sure there is more to come for you, but how does it feel to know your career has grown to such a level?
RC: Honestly, sometimes I’m still in shock as to how far I’ve gotten. We all want a seat at the table, we all want to make a name for ourselves, but it only makes me want to work and push harder to not only get to the table, but not have to introduce myself when I get there. I want to be known I want my name to ring bells in many ways there’s much work to be done.
DM: Your “Heaux Is Life” apparel makes such a bold political statement, what lead you to designing those?
RC: It started as joke. [Well] really [but] not really, because it’s such a real statement to be applied to life or at least life the way I view it. Basically I was leaving out for work one afternoon and before leaving I said “time to go be a heaux for the man, and heaux is life when your on the schedule everyday” *laughs.”
DM: What does “Heaux Is Life” mean personally to you?
RC: I know normally when you hear the term “hoes”’or “heaux” it is usually associated with the lights of a prostitute or someone selling their body, but thats not what I meant. For me “Heaux Is Life” is getting up working that 9-5, it’s selling yourself so others can buy into that brand that you’re trying to build, it is doing what you have to do to get what you want. Something like a “hoe” or “heaux” would do.
DM: I love that! If no one understands that, I definitely do. What advice would you give someone looking to get into designing?
RC: Simply don’t give up, trust in yourself and vision because not everyone is gonna feel it but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. In many ways some people don’t like or don’t support what they don’t understand.
DM: That is one of my favorite sayings, it’s beyond true. So what can we expect next from the R. Chvrles brand?!
RC: I’m working on putting together a pop-up shop in New Orleans as soon as I can, but as far as designs all I will say is stay tuned beautiful things are in the works.
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