Photo : Alistair Guy
Brix Smith-Start founded the boutique Start in 2002 with her husband Philip Start- a decision incited by their observation that there was no where to shop for designer fashion in London’s up and coming Shoreditch. Originally a men's and women's wear store located at number fifty-nine Rivington Street, it’s popularity led to a quick expansion and women’s wear took up it’s own, larger premises across the street at number forty-two by 2004. The final addition to the Start family was established in 2008 and is now the home to Philip Start’s own tailoring line, Mr Start. Brix is also known for being a member of post-punk band The Fall, lead singer and songwriter with The Adult Net and a television presenter.
Q1. What was the first record that you bought and how did it change your life?
BSS: On the way to day camp at Big Rock Ranch, traveling across Los Angeles from Santa Monica to Malibu Canyon, the hippy drivers always had the radio turned up loud. The pop songs of the day filtered and seeped into my subconscious and, unable to get them out, I begged my mother to buy me the two albums that most infected me; Janice Joplin, Pearl and Carole King, Tapestry. Oops, I almost forgot The Carpenters! I was also very influenced by the albums my mother played at home, such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Crosby, Stills and Nash. These records were the soundtrack to my childhood and, as a songwriter, I was deeply influenced by each and every one.
Q2. You’ve done quite a bit of television including Gok's Fashion Fix, Animal Planet UK's Top Dog and The Culture Show on BBC Two and as fashion expert on Sky television's coverage of the 2011 Academy Awards. For you as a performer, is television natural step and what would be the ideal show for you to host?
BSS: Television is so natural to me that I have been doing it since before I could walk, although not many people know this. It is, in fact, my preferred medium of creative expression out of everything I have ever done. I would love to have my own shows, which would combine my love of fashion, beauty, psychology, animals and investigative journalism.
Q3. You’re an avid blogger-how do you think the online world and ecommerce have effected fashion?
BSS: I think that now, as a nation and as a universe, we are more connected than we ever have been before. Instead of watching the news, I look to Twitter. Online, news breaks instantly. Fashion trends are created instantly and spread across the web like a virus. Therefore when something is hot and you are selling it on your web store, it’s instant satisfaction for everyone. The greatest invention in my lifetime has been the Internet. Blogging is an incredibly powerful tool and the freedom to express one’s opinion in a global forum cannot be underestimated.
Q4. I love the picture from Alistair Guy’s new exhibition 'On His Knees' where all of the portraits have been shot by Guy literally 'on his knees' to contextualise his admiration for these women working in the fashion industry today. With this in mind do you feel that women get fair treatment in fashion, from the work place to the catwalk?
BSS: Your question makes women sound like they are victims. Every person is able to carve his or her own destiny, be it in fashion, sport, business or whatever. You are in control of your own destiny and can do or be whatever you want to be.
Q5. You are obviously a pug fan (my wife is too). Why in your opinion are they such great dogs?
BSS: Well, on this subject, I could write a book. Out of all breeds of dogs I suspect pugs are the most humanised. They were originally bred in Ancient China for emperors and empresses who were barren and could not have children. They were not bred as hunters, they were not bred as retrievers and they were not bred as scent dogs. They were bred as companions. And because they were bred into royal households, they were treated like royalty. If you notice, to this day they still have a ‘throne-ing’ instinct. They will climb onto the highest piece of furniture in a room and literally 'throne' over the room. Some people think pugs are ugly but I think they're the cutest things I’ve ever seen. When I’m down, my pugs bring me up and when I’m scared they guard me. I could not live without my pugs, they are truly my best friends and my family – and to top it off they are hilarious.
Janis Joplin - To Love Somebody