Made Her Think’s Meredith Kahn Dresses Like a ‘Victorian Biker’

Made Her Think designer Meredith Kahn was selling her jewelry at Nolita’s I Heart boutique when the shopaholics over at Lucky noticed her line. A few mentions in the glossy and one Vogue endorsement later, and she was ready to quit her denim-designing day job at Old Navy.

Kahn says people use “parallel words” when describing Made Her Think, her in-demand line of baubles and handbags. “I’ve heard ‘naughty and nice,’ ‘edgy and girly,’ ‘moody and elegant.’” It’s not that fashion writers are unoriginal, so much as this is exactly the juxtaposition Kahn is going for when she creates rhinestone-studded earrings resembling medieval weapons, or spiked necklaces softened with rosettes. “There’s always some kind of irony or contradiction in terms of the elements,” she explains. “I like pulling from a lot of different avenues, but I think that the end result has a softness and toughness.”

Made Her Think’s aesthetic has clearly resonated with the fashion world, since Kahn has three collaborations in the works (plus a few more she can’t mention yet). Expect to see a curated selection of Made Her Think pieces at Club Monaco this fall, including fringe rings, drop-pendant necklaces, and gem-studded cuffs; a partnership with Kiki de Montparnasse on an eight-piece private-label line of sterling silver, fourteen-karat gold, and diamond jewelry; and a mark made on denim company Resin’s latest collection. We caught up with the multitasker to talk about gypsy style, Annie Hall, and the importance of beat-up black boots.

Tell us a bit more about this denim collaboration.
I’ve always been a huge denim freak, so I was so excited when Resin approached me. We’re incorporating some of our hardware elements into the pieces. We’re tweaking the washes and seam details. It’s a little bit out there.

When are you presenting your spring collection, and what inspired it?
I’m presenting at Milk Studios on September 9th this year. I put together a spring palette, which is tough, since I mainly work with metals. There are blues and pinks and lilac grays offset with darker metals and rhinestones. There’s also a Turkish feel to a lot of the jewelry. I incorporated coins, and it’s almost like a spring gypsy look. There’s a sense of travel, a worldly feel. The elements are definitely larger this season; I wanted it to be bold.

Who are your style icons?
Daphne Guinness is always in my repertoire. Leonor Scherrer is on the neo-gothic tip. She’s launching a line of clothing meant to be worn to wakes and funerals, which sounds morbid, but a lot of that goes into my own work.

Pieces from Made Her Think’s spring 2011 collection.Photo: Courtesy of Made Her Think

How would you describe your personal style?
There’s a lot of Victorian biker happening. I think there’s a bit of a grungy feel, but I do like menswear-inspired elements. There’s always something masculine, but I’m also growing my hair out — it’s the longest it’s ever been. So there’s always that juxtaposition.

Who are your favorite designers?
In terms of fashion, I tend to go for the purists and the artists like Yohji Yamamoto or Gaultier. I also like Rick Owens and Isabel Marant. Certainly I admire designers who put their persona into the things they create. As a fashion student, Rei Kawakubo was my icon. I still look up to her. McQueen was and is up there in that way as well. I never looked to them for their collections, I looked for their essence — what they’ve given to fashion, how they’ve evolved, and how they’ve been revolutionary in their ways. I also feel like those people have not given in to a level of commercialism that others have.

What was the first designer item you bought?
Thigh-high stretch leather black Louboutin boots, about three years ago.

What are your favorite stores in New York?
For clothing I love Curve, Assembly, Eva Gentry, Hollander & Lexer, and Kiki de Montparnasse. I definitely love browsing at ABC, although I don’t know if I shop there. Darr, Moon River Chattel, Brooklyn Kitchen, and John Derian are some other favorites. Comme De Garçons is great for fragrances. I buy a lot of stuff from street vendors, and I love browsing the vintage selection at Artists & Fleas. I’m also a huge eBay person.

What trends are you appreciating right now?
I’m very intrigued by this seventies-chic lady thing that’s happening right now. A slimmer silhouette, possibly a hat, clean makeup, fitted button-ups, high-waisted trousers. It’s not Annie Hall, but it’s a little menswear-inspired, and I’m a huge menswear fan. There’s also something else that’s happening that reminds me of what was going on during the nineties, like a grunge look but a little bit more tailored. A lot of layering jackets and vests, and long, printed chiffon skirts and shearling and boots. I’m also appreciating skinny wrapped-waist belts, black felt hats, lots of hair, and anything from Burberry’s fall runway. Jewelry-wise, I’m into thumb rings, gauntlet rings, and slave rings, which go from a bracelet to a ring.

Are there any trends you wish would go away?
There’s a little too much literal punk rock; it needs to be saved for its purest form. If it’s someone who truly lives that way, that’s cool. But sometimes I think people take too many liberties in that department.

What is one item you’re saving up to buy?
This pair of Louis Vuitton tortoiseshell cat-eye glasses with lace lenses. I need them. I don’t even know if you can see through them.

What should every girl have in her closet?
A great pair of black boots; they’re so versatile. You can wear tight pants and stick them in the boots, you can wear baggy pants and cuff them, you can wear them with skirts, with shorts, in the fall, on a cool summer night. I personally gravitate toward flat black boots rather than heels because I think it brings a bit more of an attitude.

What do you never leave the house without?
I never leave without giving my daughter a kiss good-bye.

Made Her Think’s Meredith Kahn Dresses Like a ‘Victorian Biker’