A creative consultant’s job is hard to describe and this is definitely true for Kayten Schmidt whose skill set ranges from art director and stylist to photographer and artist. The LA-based Schmidt has a unique, but specific personal style and one can’t help but think these attributes can be found in her work. She favors thoughtful, independent designers such as Barbara Casasola, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and Lemaire. For her, the creative process can be slow, but steady, and Schmidt, prone to over-analyzing, knows exactly what she likes, and because of that, usually gets it right.
How would you define your job?
I wish I had a good answer for this. Special projects. Various projects. I take photographs. I art direct. I put clothing together. Sometimes I paint or make fiber art. I can do a voiceover. I’m not super comfortable landing on any of those singularly.
What is the most challenging project you’ve ever worked on?
Honestly, I’m always challenged. I have a way of over-complicating things and finding a challenging moment in every project. If it’s not something logistically then it’s in the concept, or my emotional reaction to the concept. I laugh at it after the fact but it’s a real impediment and it must drive others crazy. A photographer I work with often just told me yesterday I think too much and should stop! I can’t coast through things.
How do you describe your creative process as an artist?
Lots of research that culminates to a boiling point. I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be, work comes out in bursts. Lately (wintertime) the light is incredible in my house so I’ve been shooting photos in the afternoon any day I can. Most of the time it ebbs and flows.
What’s your personal style like?
I think it’s pretty classic. I’m very adamant about no-makeup and natural hair. I don’t have any tattoos. I like white and beige and navy and black. High waists and interesting shapes. Flat shoes.
In your opinion, what makes a brand great?
Moving slow. Taking time. Not being afraid to be specific and niche. Having an interesting point of view. Capturing that aspirational quality in the right way.
Who are these brands?
Maryam Nasir Zadeh
There are so many more!
There are so many online shopping destinations now, how do you decide where to shop?
Sales. God I love a sale. I do nearly all my shopping online. There are so many online destinations but everyone’s buy is slightly different, its nice to be able to see different interpretations of the same collections.
What completes a purchase for you? Like the deciding factor?
I but a lot of vintage and things that are on sale, so if my size is available that is usually the deciding factor. I recently found an amazing 90s Miu Miu dress and I saw it but sort of passively danced around it looking at and trying on other things first. Then I finally grabbed it and tried it on and it was like a soulmate. That’s how it should happen, like locking eyes with someone! If I’m shopping and feeling confused I think it’s best to stop and wait until the whole experience is working.
We just interviewed the girls behind new Silver Lake shop Reservoir – have you visited?
Not yet! They are in my neighborhood, I should. I will.
I can tell from your tumblr – you’re very into 90s fashion – what is it from this decade you find so inspiring?
I started fashion school in 2001 so the 90s were my passionate teenage magazine-tearing discovery period. I love the filmy runway shots. I love 90s Kate Moss, Jil Sander, Peter Lindberg, W Magazine, Prada, I could go on. There was a lot of bad in the 90s too! I am also by nature quite a nostalgic person, I love a lot of fashion moments from the 70s and 80s too, and for architecture and furniture the 30’s, 40’s, and 50s.
Do you employ the 90s aesthetic often to your current work?
Probably! I think it is probably an underlying aesthetic. I just bought a camera from the 70s though, so I’m hoping to channel something through that. I feel like there are so many things to pull from visually, just trying to respect and refine.
What’s your favorite thing about LA?
The light. And the warm weather. That’s two things but they kind of go together.