What happens when a colour-blind creative with a no-holds-barred approach takes up fashion design? Well, you get Blnde Studios, the creative space where life is one big sexy performance.
In May 2021, Ariana Blnde launched Blnde Studios as a creative outlet where she could express herself on her own terms. She describes her personal style as fun and fluid, preferring to listen to what makes her feel good than follow trends.
“I feel like as I learn more about myself, my style changes. I’m always researching fashion history and adding that to my personal style, so it’s always changing. However, one thing stays the same: I always stay true to myself.”
Blnde Studios follows that model of individual expression and it exists in a constant state of fluidity. For Ariana, everything she makes is directly influenced by how she feels and whatever happens to inspire her at the time. When she started the brand, she knew she wanted it to mimic that attitude and she’s frequently switching up everything from her designs to her branding. In her words: “If you came here in season one for the tropical vibes, you might not get that the next time. It depends on what I’m taking in and which way I want to go.”
But even though it’s fluid, there’s always going to be one constant with Blnde and that’s the sexiness of the pieces. There’s always going to be skin and encourages people who buy her pieces to lean into their sensuality. The girls eat all of it up.
“I design my pieces for any and everyone but going off of who I see in my sales, I think I cater to the girls who really love fashion and want to go there with their style. They like to have fun with it,” Ariana said.
She gets her love for fashion from the women in her family. Her mother inherited the passion from her own mother who owned a clothing label. As a child, Ariana spent a lot of time playing dress-up with and attempting to style her mother. It was sort of a bonding practice and the joy she felt then stayed with her well into adulthood.
As a colour-blind designer, she’s been able to navigate the creative space with the help of a team who understands her desire to push the envelope. However, she wasn’t always like this. In college, she was unwilling to experiment and explore fashion. Back then, she only dressed for comfort with pieces like denim, hoodies and sweatpants making the bulk of her closet. She stuck to a neutral colour palette too.
She kept this up until she graduated from university and in 2020, she was finally ready to explore her identity through fashion. “Blnde literally started out as an exploration of my personal style,” she said. “But I’m a Capricorn and I work a lot so I made it a project that was for everyone’s consumption,” Ariana told us she was learning on the job and having deadlines and expectations helped her stay dedicated. Clearly, it’s working and it’s gaining a lot of momentum, with Ayra Starr and Liya donning her pieces.
The designer loves her job, especially the fact that with the current generation, it’s impossible to be wrong anymore. She told us that she loves getting to put out designs that appeal to her and always has an audience for them. “When you’re the one creating and calling the shots, everyone just takes it and they’re just like, okay. Obviously, people are going to have an opinion on what you’re making and if they like it or not, but when you’re the creator, I feel like you can just do it,” she said.
She went on to say that this has given her the confidence to experiment and explore and be less judgemental about what silhouette and colour she enjoys working with. Ariana also never chases trends; she told FEMME MAG that she often designs her pieces way before they become trends.
“I will make something and then when it’s fashion week, I see it showing up in the pieces from the runway. We end up doing the same thing and I’m just like, what the fuck? Why?” She attributes this to the fact that subconsciously, every designer is consuming and getting inspiration from the same stuff. But even though the end products might be similar, the road there probably isn’t.
Ariana describes her design process as being a bit chaotic. She begins by observing— Instagram stories, outfits at parties, Pinterest, Tumblr, her grandmother’s old designs, any and everything. She tells us that she often gets in trouble at parties for taking pictures of random people but you can’t take the designer out of the girl.
The next step is making sketches of all the ideas she has and she works closely with her illustrator for this. Ariana is colour-blind and she told FEMME MAG that if left to her own devices, she would pick the wrong colours for her sketches. But her illustrator is good at what he does and they make a great team.
There is a lot of work that goes into these designs before they are ready to be rolled out—like curating samples and shooting content for marketing. Ariana went to film school and Blnde Studios allows her to make use of that skill. “We always make short visuals to market the pieces because it got quite expensive to do full video productions for everything that dropped,” she said. “I’m always trying to tell some sort of story with what I’m doing. I’m always referencing old and unique stuff.”
In the next decade, Ariana isn’t sure of what she wants the brand to look like. According to her, she has been experiencing a lot of redirection in her personal life and she’s currently very interested in music. The designer never limits herself and is always very happy to explore different paths to see what fits best.
She gives us a teaser of what is to come—an E.P that she plans to roll out with her following collection. “I want my branding to be an all-encompassing thing where you can have fashion and music and there’s also the person tying it together. Right now, I’m working on putting all my mediums together and creating it as a package.”
But for right now, her main goal for Blnde Studios is its expansion and having access to Fashion Week spaces and more shows. “I don’t just want a brand, I want to be known as an actual designer.”