Interview: Is Chrissie Miller’s “Club Chrissie” The Face of DIY Television?

by Emma Orlow

There’s always that one friend in the group who has the hangout house. Sophomore clothing designer, Chrissie Miller’s is known as Club Chrissie.  In the beginning of October, Chrissie turned her clubhouse into the site for her new Youtube web series under the same byline. Produced by Pharrell Williams, the series, which is a mix of Pee Wee’s Play House and a Martha Stewart episode, follows Chrissie as she spends lazy days with one of her many cool friends, taking on equally-cool DIY projects. Some of her guests so far have included recording artist, Maxine Ashley, her business partner, Leah Dell, and Paper Magazine editor, Mr. Mickey. Each week, Chrissie invites her friends over to take on craft projects from tie-dying to bedazzling—all while seated on her granny square-covered couch.

Personally, after watching Club Chrissie, I want nothing more than to hang out with her on her couch. Maybe she’ll invite over her old roommates, The Virgins, and we can take on that googly eye project I’ve been meaning to do. Chrissie Miller’s web series  is available for viewing here.

So do you love Club Chrissie as much as I do? If I haven’t convinced you yet, read on for an interview I had with the very rad lady herself.

Chrissie, I am such a big fan of Sophomore. I especially love how you used video to create an aesthetic experience for your brand. One of my favorites was the Spring/Summer 2010 video you shot with Lesley Arfin on Coney Island. What first got you interested in using film to convey your style?

Well thank you! I think that video is like the best thing I’ve ever done. I went to film school, so clothing has always been a part of my life, but I love film a lot. It’s weird; I just always wanted to make little films like that. When we were doing it, maybe we were kind of the first? Or at least the first to do something that was a narrative and not necessarily just a normal photo shoot.

Yeah, I always thought that video was such a genius way to get people to look at the clothes as opposed to a “just buy this” lookbook.

Yeah, I think when you’re buying something, you’re buying into the lifestyle. You want to learn more about what that lifestyle is, instead of just having a hired model tell you  about it. And, you know, I’ve always used friends. I never even hired anyone or paid anyone [laughs]. So it was just a cool collaborative thing that I would do. Cass [Bird] obviously is a big part of it. She and I are kind of creative soul mates in that way.  

But now, you’re on a break from Sophomore, and working on your web series, Club Chrissie.

I am. I got overwhelmed by Sophomore; it’s a lot of work and there are so many other things I want to do that I felt I couldn’t do because of it. I had just been asked to do a bunch of different projects like [Club Chrissie]. Pharrell and I have known each other for a while, and just on whim I was like, “can I do a show?” and he was like, “yup.” And within a week it started happening.

I’ve watched all of the episodes of Club Chrissie so far, and I love the animated quality of the show. Totally Pee Wee Herman meets Martha Stewart. Did you come up with the theme for the show? Are you a fan of the two at all?

Actually, when I was meeting with the iamOTHER people, they kept saying, you know, “Downtown Martha Stewart.” For me it was more about that I like to make things but I also that I don’t want to make complicated things. I want to make things that are easy and can be made at a night home or with your friends. Sometimes DIYs have a lot of ingredients and take a lot of time. 

But in terms of the Pee Wee thing, I didn’t even really know till I got there what it was going to look like. We had discussed making it more of an instructional Youtube video. But what I brought to the table was that I wanted to have guests, and have a conversation—that’s really what’s most interesting to me. Moving forward, I want to get more and more interesting people to create that sort of talk show vibe while also getting to make something. 

Did you do a lot of crafting when you were younger?

My mom has always been making stuff. Everything was always homemade: my Halloween costume, clothes she made for me. I guess I am just one of those people who can never really find exactly what they want. So if I can’t find it, then I find a way to wing it or make it. I do a lot of vintage shopping and then from that, remake clothes. You know, just changing the buttons, and things like that. But I am also not a real Martha Stewart where I decorate the whole house for Thanksgiving [laughs]. Its more just on a fashion level.

Are there any projects you’re looking to do on future episodes that we haven’t seen so far?

I mean, I think I want to make Club Chrissie a little more with stuff you can use in your closet. It would be cool if guests would bring their own stuff and together we could find ways to remake them. Like, for example, I have an ugly brown dress but I dyed it black. We’re in a recession right now so it’s cool to be able to really look in your wardrobe and make things out of what you already have instead of buying more stuff.

I do think that the whole basis of Club Chrissie is very progressive—to me, I see it as part of this DIY television movement. Cable in general today is so expensive, and people are much more readily on their computes anyway. So I think it’s smart that your show is on Youtube.  Is the fact that everything is trending online something that you thought about with Club Chrissie?

TV intimidated me a bit. It’s not something that’s out of the question but I am the biggest Youtube person anyway. Youtube seems more accessible when it’s a DIY thing. I will Youtube how to cook something or how to fix something in my house, I always Youtube instructions, so I think for right now it makes more sense to do this sort of project online. 

Anything else you want to add, anything else you want to cover?

Well, there’s more episodes coming—one with Charlotte Ronson and Pamela Love especially to look forward to. So yeah, stay tuned!

Thanks so much Chrissie! Looking to forward to what’s next. 

Images via iamOTHER



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