DESIGNER Q&A: Terrence O'Brien Henderson
If you follow me on Snap Chat you often see my crazy friend from work, that’s TERRENCE HENDERSON! Listening to him tell funny stories every day, I found out that he is a designer and we realized we had so much in common. I’m excited to say that he is getting ready to try out for Project Runway and asked if I would take the photos for his audition package. If you know me you know I have an obsession with Tim Gunn and Project Runway, so I was more than honored to help out. While taking these photos I was able find out more about Terrence as a designer.
Snooty Judy: How long have you been designing? Did you go study design somewhere?
A costume created by Terrence in 2013. Demise from The Legend of Zelda Photo by Herbert Battle
Terrence Henderson: I've always been an artist from childhood. And I always loved drawing clothes and people (Characters). It wasn't until I was dressing my cousin's Barbie’s did I know that there was this world of "Fashion," that I was already participating in, existed. I continued to design fashion until high school when I took up sewing and never really stopped sewing. I then found cosplay and costume work and I finally decided to go back to school (after entering SCAD and having to leave) and enrolled in 2014 at Art Institute of Charlotte. The intent was to study costume but I found my love for fashion once again.
Besides fashion I do illustration and costume.
SJ: Tell me about Cosplay, about the culture, for people like me who don’t know.… What characters or costumes do you like to dress up as?
TH: I like to dress up as video game characters because they have more detail. I also have this thing, I like to dress up as villains.
Cosplay is meant to excite and attract attention. Hardest part is standing up in the costume all day, so having a costume that is made of just fabric is very rare. Usually there’s foam, feathers, props, wigs, heavy makeup, contacts... all of it I can stand usually for about 5 hours or less. In cross play its corsets, pads, heels... and it can all get very hot.
The best part of cosplay is that as we go through this human experience and we attach memories and emotions to pop culture, in a costume I'm able to unlock those memories and emotions and share them with people. There’s a magical moment when someone sees you and goes "Oh my goodness... STORM! Can I get a picture" ... MAGIC!
SJ: Which do you prefer or like the most design, cosplay, or cross play... why?
TH: That would be like asking which child I like best. I couldn't do it.
SJ: What would you say is your technique or style of design?
TH: I "Blur"
Blur the lines of gender, blur the lines of textiles, blur the lines of costume vs fashion, blur the lines of historical costume vs futuristic simplicity.
Like my stunning Goddess gown, from the goddess collection. Got so much attention. That was a window draper fabric that I got from a friend who owns an interior design store. I looked at it, as it hung in the window and said, “Hey! That'd be a cool gown.” He ripped it off and gave it to me
SJ: I’ve heard you say before that you are never satisfied with pieces, what are some of your favorite pieces though? Where would you like to push yourself?
TH: That's what drives artists forward. I think we make art because not only is it the meaning of life... it’s air breathing, Creation is life. We're just doing what we're supposed to do. If you like it then cool... but it’s about getting it out of us.
Design wise, the black evening gown, the faux suede "cruel vs cool" blazer, and my latest little "Blue Boucle" dress are some of my favorites.
Art wise, I have a self-portrait that was absolutely one of my favorite, and I have twin mermaids for the sign of Pisces that is huge and is probably the strongest illustration I've ever done.
I want to really get into it. I think doing more textile prints, textile work will allow me to unlock my vision even more. I also need to use my 3D pen more...
SJ: What inspires you?
TH: Inspiration is like air. It’s everywhere. But what triggers a design is often music or a idea in the middle of the night. I also get ideas while driving...hard to sketch going down the highway
SJ: I love music. What music do you get your inspiration from?
TH: Bjork, Prince, Kelis, Sade, Robyn. I like artists who think way outside the box, and music that takes you somewhere else.
SJ: What designers do you admire?
TH: McQueen for his approach, of course he created some spectacular things...but his whole being was different in the way he designed. I also love Resurrection, the South Korean Designer. Stehpano Rolland for his couture work... effortless...
SJ: I’ve never heard of them
TH: Resurrection did a lot of work with Will.I.AM
SJ: Where do you get inspiration from?
TH: When doing a collection I see the runway, I hear the music... I then play the song again and again and focus on a look each time
Every design I have is probably tied to a song. Kinda strange. I can point to the green military jacket with the camo back... That was Beyoncé's "Jealous" featuring drake. The blue Dress that I just did... That's "Eyes on Horizon" from Dumblonde.
SJ: What about some of the pieces I shot what songs did you get inspiration from?
TH: All the stuff you shot, that the guy wore I created listening to Dawn Richards album "Armor On" and the song in particular was "Scripture"
SJ: And the women’s clothes was Dumblonde?
TH: Yup, ‘Cept the black cape and the jacket. Both of those were Sia - Elastic Heart
SJ: You pay a lot of attention to fabric how does that effect or help your decisions when designing
TH: If I see a fabric, I have to have it. When I'll use it or if I use it... who knows? I do enjoy texture. Fabric is instrument, a color you’re gonna use to paint. I like depth. I usually sketch is all white or black, but occasional a particular color will come into my mood and I have to use it. Like this year with the sky blue and coral ruby red. But I really... really... hate all over shiny fabrics
TH: I think when I was a kid I just had an aversion to it because it looked cheap. And it can be too loud... You know I really don't know... I don't even know.
SJ: What trends do you want to get rid of or you're ready to go out of style?
TH: I don't really care what people do... flare leg pants just aren't gonna come back and I know why...
TH: Shoes are more important than ever…. Flares cover the shoes #notgonnahappen. That's really about it.
SJ: Well what is a trend or staple you hope never goes away. For me it’s leather. I’m always going to buy some leather
TH: Yea, love that. Uh, probably the blazer. It’s the little black dress equivalent to being needed. I want the vest to come back too… I love vests...I have sooo many… And overalls. You can dress up overalls.
SJ: If you could design for any celebrity who would it be and why?
TH: Snooty Judy!
SJ: Who’s a celebrity and I very clearly asked for a gown or 2?
TH: That's... true. It’s a tossup between Bjork or Kelis. Either one.
SJ: Do you do personal work for people?
TH: Yea, I do
SJ: Where can people reach you for that?
TH: Via my assistant Snooty Judy. No, my email is always best. Instagram, @theblackbard.
Terrence is a very talented and hilarious artist who has incredible expertise when it comes to sewing and details, which is necessary to survive a show like Project Runway. I have confidence that Heidi will not be telling him “auf wiedersehen” this season. Make sure you check out his portfolio here