Designer Maisie Schloss on Jell-O, Thrifting, and Josie & The Pussycats

Published December 6, 2019

All photos by Christine Hahn.

Maisie Schloss, founder of the new womenswear label Maisie Wilen, spends most of her day driving around Los Angeles in a muumuu. The L.A.-based designer, whose label combines her own first name with her mother’s maiden name, is experiencing something of a meteoric rise following the November drop of her first collection. Maisie Wilen was born when Kanye West selected Schloss, then a designer at Yeezy, to be the first recipient of his fashion incubator grant offering seed funding and mentorship to independent designers. The result is a fresh brand devoted to making clothing fun again.

Schloss’ designs are sugary and dynamic. The label’s debut ad campaign features flash-lit low-fi photographs of women piled atop one another in a whorl of dizzying patterns, syrupy colors and tangled limbs. It’s a party you want to be a part of, the type that leaves a trail of jubilant destruction in its wake. We stepped into the peachy, kaleidoscopic world of Maisie Schloss to learn more about her love of patterns, her Josie and the Pussycats obsession, and her fascination with Jell-O mold Instagram accounts. 

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MARA VEITCH: How did you catch Kanye’s eye? Why were you the person he invested in?

MAISIE SCHLOSS: I think it was two things. One is that when I was an employee at Yeezy, I made a lot of effort to involve myself in as many projects and take on as much responsibility as possible. I think he saw my versatility there. Also, I’m kind of a quirky dresser and he always really admired my style.

VEITCH: What is your daily uniform?

SCHLOSS: One thing that’s consistent is that everything I own is printed. I don’t own anything solid, really. I wear a lot of prints at once. Honestly, I’ve been wearing a lot of muumuus recently, just huge printed dresses.

VEITCH: Embracing the California lifestyle.

SCHLOSS: Exactly. It’s very L.A. of me, but also, my average day is running between factories and suppliers, and moving stuff around the studio, I need something that is comfortable and that I can really do work in.

VEITCH: Who, in your dream world, would you design for?

SCHLOSS: Oh, there’s so many. First of all, a lot of people who wear my clothes now would have been on my list. Kim K. is a huge one for me. And you know, a ton of other stars. Beyond that, I’m a big fan of Dolly Parton.

VEITCH: What is it like to design for the Kardashians and other celebrities? Is there performance anxiety?

SCHLOSS: I‘d say it’s kind of natural. I do think they have cool style and definitely hope that they’ll like my clothes, but at the same time I’m genuinely designing what I like.

VEITCH: What TV show or film do you think your clothes belong in?

SCHLOSS: A huge influence of mine is Josie and the Pussycats from 2001. It’s really kitschy, but I love it so much. I’m convinced I’ve watched that movie more than anyone else on Earth. I still watch it multiple times a year.

VEITCH: Is there a message in your designs?

SCHLOSS: I really just want to make pieces that women will want to have fun in. I want to make pieces that feel special, but at the same time make a lot of sense in your everyday life.

VEITCH: How do you spend a typical day?

SCHLOSS: I start my day doing a lot of driving, also very L.A. of me. And then towards the end of the day is when I’m actually in my studio drawing, creating, actual designing.

VEITCH: Where is the best thrifting in L.A.?

SCHLOSS: None of it is in L.A. proper, in my opinion. I go out farther east and deeper into the Valley. The further from the heart of the city the better, really. 

VEITCH: What influences your designs?

SCHLOSS: It changes all the time. I was on a kick last season with performance leotards for gymnastics and figure skating. Thrifting also inspires me. Clothes that are in no way being considered in the pop culture right now, or things that seem like they were always a monstrosity. I love to find just the weirdest pieces. Where was this even sold? What is this thing? That’s where I get the inspiration.

VEITCH: What’s next for you?

SCHLOSS: Right now, the majority of my attention is focused on pre-fall 2020, which is showing in January. I also have a few cool events coming up. I have a show in collaboration with painter and sculptor Alake Shilling at Art Basel Miami which will be really fun. I’m excited to show my clothes alongside her work because I’m such a fan.

VEITCH: What is your party trick?

SCHLOSS: I can make a noise like a tea kettle.

VEITCH: If your upcoming line was a meal, what would it be?

SCHLOSS: I feel like it would be some kind of dessert.

VEITCH: I get a Jell-O vibe.

SCHLOSS: Ooh, I love that. Speaking of inspirations, I’ve started following a lot of Jell-O mold process Instagrams. They make really elaborate ones. It’s so cool and fun to watch. You came up with the perfect answer.

VEITCH: I will enter that Instagram rabbit hole as soon as we finish our conversation.

SCHLOSS: It’s actually so cool to see how these Jell-O sculptures are made. It’s not how you would expect.

VEITCH: That’s so funny. And what do you think of the new Yeezy algae crocs?

SCHLOSS: Oh, they’re so cool. I love them. I can’t wait to get a pair.