Meet the maverick stylist behind Julia Fox’s wildest looks
From downtown club kid to the couture runways of Paris – via THAT Kanye moment – Briana Andalore has been collaborating with the Uncut Gems icon for the best part of 15 years
After Julia Fox burst into wider public consciousness like an ab-baring, smoky-eyed firework in January – partly thanks to her high-profile fling with Kanye West, but equally thanks to her gloriously daring style – it may have been easy to overlook that the 32-year-old actress has already lived many lives over. For a certain contingent of New Yorker, Fox has been a familiar face for the best part of a decade: first knocking about on the downtown club scene, then as the co-creator of the cult label Franziska Fox with her close collaborator (and now stylist) Briana Andalore, and finally as an artist whose provocative output included staging her own funeral and photography books offering candid glimpses into a world of sex, drugs, and doomed romances.
With her star-making performance in the Safdie Brothers’s Uncut Gems in 2019, Fox’s profile was firmly on the rise even outside of those circles – not least for her innate sense of style, even if her red carpet looks leaned more towards Old Hollywood bombshell than the more outré fashions we now know her for. Yes, we’re talking about the veritable feast of eye-popping looks that Fox served up during her fling with West earlier this year. Leather pants, exposed thongs, thigh-high silver Balenciaga boots, blood-red Rick Owens gowns, denim Schiaparelli cone bras, and, of course, that Pat McGrath-created kohl-rimmed eye – the Julia Fox of 2022 has felt like a whirlwind of wildly theatrical fashion moments that showed no signs of stopping. If her recent LA grocery shopping excursion in underwear and a denim coat is anything to go by, they certainly won’t be.
While many viewed Fox’s dramatic style transformation after meeting Ye as a Pygmalion-like remoulding of the actress into an image entirely of his own making, to do so would be to underestimate Fox’s own, razor-sharp eye for fashion, as well as the input of her tight-knit circle of collaborators. As the headline of a piece by The Cut in February that dove a little deeper into the creative milieu that surrounds Fox put it: “Julia Fox Is Her Own Muse, Thank You Very Much.” And it’s here that Andalore, Fox’s collaborator on her fashion label back in the early 2010s, comes into the picture once again. Having been best friends since their high school days – along with the similarly polymathic creative force, the model and photographer Richie Shazam – the trio’s involvement in Fox’s new lease of life as a veritable style icon can’t be understated.
Here, Andalore tells us all about her early days as a club kid, the origins of her enduring bond with Fox and Shazam, the heady days of their Kanye West collaborations earlier this year, and what’s next on her fashion journey.
Hi Briana! I wanted to ask you first about your upbringing in New York, and what first drew you towards fashion…
Briana Andalore: My childhood was definitely a little crazy. I went to elementary school on Christopher Street, which is obviously an iconic, historical gay area, so that was really what my eyes were exposed to as a kid. It was a very fast-paced environment. There was a club across the street called Club Live that all the celebrities would go to, and my mum was a real night owl who liked to hang out at the diner on our block and watch this all happen. I don’t know if that was appropriate for kids, but I really enjoyed it [laughs]. My mom also went to Parsons for flower design, so I was always in that creative environment or around creative people. It was a really open and happy childhood, where there was always some kind of parade or costume involved. I wore a Tinkerbell costume the whole time, that was my vibe.
And how did you and Julia first cross paths as teenagers?
Briana Andalore: I met Julia when I was 16 – we first met on the street, actually. Then we met again at a party, where she had a cat, and I had a backpack full of weed, so it was kind of like a match made in heaven. Growing up in New York was pretty insane. We were clubbing at the age of 13, 14, and we were both crazy party girls. We were in the club for a lot of high school. I’m kind of happy that it happened then, because it exposes you to so many different cultures and style scenes and different kinds of people. I met Amanda Lepore when I was 15 or 16 years old, and I think meeting her and seeing how incredible she was made me want to go even blonder and lean into that glamorous aesthetic even harder.
“I met Julia when I was 16 – we first met on the street, actually. Then we met again at a party, where she had a cat, and I had a backpack full of weed, so it was kind of like a match made in heaven” – Briana Andalore
How did you meet Amanda?
Briana Andalore: I met Amanda at this club called Lip Service, I think, which was in Midtown. And then I went to her apartment on 17th Street, which is actually in a hotel. Her apartment is just full of clothes and make-up and lots of beautiful, shiny things. She was just really sweet and kind and inviting, and I was so young, but I mean, what a person to be around at such a pivotal age. She’s so iconic anyway, but she’d been working a lot with David LaChapelle at that time, and then all of the MAC campaigns were happening. That imagery was really formative and inspiring for me.
What were your first forays into the world of fashion?
Briana Andalore: I went to City-As-School, which is an alternative high school where you were able to do internships for high school credit. So I worked for a fabric merchandising company that sold fabrics to Betsey Johnson and Baby Phat and Anna Sui. I think I was 16, going on 17, and I would go on these fabric meetings to sell textiles to all these brands, and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was this really small company that this woman essentially just ran out of her apartment, and I would put the book together, and it would just be me and her picking fabrics and then they’d buy it. It was a really cute moment.
And what was the backstory to you and Julia launching Franziska Fox?
Briana Andalore: We did that a little bit later, when we were like 21 or 22. I was working at a clothing store, which was this minimalist Canadian leather brand, and then Julia and I were just in our apartment and said, ‘Okay, let’s start a clothing line!’ Six months or so later, we had a clothing line. It was definitely really challenging and hard work, but also so much fun. At the beginning we were totally fearless, which I think is the most amazing thing of all. When you get older, you have more anxiety around doing things, partly because you just have more knowledge, because you’re aware of all the ways it could go wrong. But at that time, we were able to just do whatever we wanted to do, because we weren’t afraid. Sometimes I wish I could get that back. We made our first collection in the Garment District, and then we were making things at a factory in Vietnam where I even lived for a bit. We were making shoes in Brazil. We were doing the most! It was amazing, although I definitely think I would have done things differently if it was me now – but you know, no regrets.
“[Julia and I] just go through life and exist in our own kind of world, in our family, in our little unit here. Dressing her is so much fun – it’s not like a job, really. We’re just hanging out and I’m saying, you need to put this on, or we need to lower this or cut this” – Briana Andalore
After Franziska Fox closed, what did you move on to next?
Briana Andalore: I went on hiatus really. I moved to Berlin for two years, because I think things can get a little kooky after you lose your business. It really was my baby, so I just thought, I’m gonna take it easy, get grounded, and do a bit of travelling. I didn’t work in fashion at all. Then I came back to New York, and I just slowly started styling. I had styled all of the Franziska Fox collections, so I picked it up again quite naturally. It feels pretty second nature. Julia had just done the movie [Uncut Gems], and I had always been doing stuff with Richie [Shazam], I think we always worked as a family unit. Whatever was happening – Julia had an art show, or Richie had a modelling job – we all picked up where the other one couldn’t at that time, to support each other in our endeavours.
Richie would work for us when she didn’t have a job, or when I didn’t have a job, I’d help out with Richie on photoshoots, do her hair and makeup and put all the looks together, before she became as well-known and amazing as she is now. I mean, I literally gave Julia my blood for one of her art shows to put on the walls [laughs]. Not as scary as it sounds, I promise. It was just all about supporting each other as a family unit. I think that was important at that time, and I think it was definitely a little tricky to get back into fashion as a whole. Maybe I wasn’t trying as hard as I probably should have been, but it did feel a little like I needed to take baby steps back into it after not doing it for however many years. I did a Heron Preston campaign with a friend, I did a Jeremih video, I did some commercial stuff, just things here and there to pay the bills with friends. You know how New York is. You just end up doing all these different things, whatever comes along.
And how did things step up a notch with Julia’s styling when Kanye first stepped onto the scene?
Briana Andalore: I mean, Kanye came along, and it was just this incredible new resource that meant anything was possible. I already had all these skills for so many years when it came to making clothes – I feel like I could literally make anything appear – but when you have a great budget, and have a lot of amazing friends who can work on things and make things happen at the drop of a hat, everything changes. So we just kind of ran with it. He was super receptive to us and our ideas. It started as a 30 day challenge, where he was like, ‘Let’s get her 30 looks for 30 days. See what you can come up with.’ So we said, ‘Okay, let’s go!’ We did it in two days, or maybe even less. We had all these leather pants made for her in 48 hours, we had full looks created overnight. It was a challenge, but it was also an amazing moment where we were all like, woah, this is happening.
What was it like having access to Kanye’s archives?
Briana Andalore: That actually came a bit later. At first, we were doing pretty much everything for her – it was all from different shops or different designers. I had been styling before, so I had a sense of everything happening in fashion, but going to Ye’s archive was obviously crazy and amazing. It was a giant warehouse in LA with loads of Balenciaga. We pulled some stuff from there too, but I would say the predominant amount didn’t actually come from the archive.
“When Kanye came along, it was just this incredible new resource that meant anything was possible. I already had all these skills for so many years when it came to making clothes, but when you have a great budget, and a lot of amazing friends who can work on things and make things happen at the drop of a hat, everything changes” – Briana Andalore
When it came to having those conversations, how much was Julia leading them, and how much was it you figuring things out as a team or a collective?
Briana Andalore: Julia definitely has a mysterious, dark energy that is moody and just very, very cool. And I think maybe that didn’t always come across in her style when she became known as an actress. There’s kind of this formula for up-and-coming actresses that works to some extent, as it’s kind of what people on a mass scale expect to see, or the way that people think they want to see an actress look. I think we saw it as an opportunity to change that up a bit. We just did moodboard after moodboard and sent them to Ye, he would screenshot things and say that he liked this, or that we should research more into this, and then we would all be together – it would be me, him, Julia, and there would be a room of clothes that we would present to Julia and Ye, and they would be like, okay, let’s explore more of this, or let’s pull back from this a little bit. I don’t know, I think he was overall really into everything that we presented. But in terms of that final look, there’s a part of her, there’s a part of him – obviously he has really great ideas, and is a genius at many things – there’s a part of myself in there too. It was a big mix.
What was it like going to Paris couture week back in January? It looked pretty crazy.
Briana Andalore: Paris was insane. It was by far one of the coolest experiences of our lives. Daniel [Roseberry] at Schiaparelli is just the sweetest guy ever. And he really did take off his pants for Julia to wear as part of her outfit, so god bless his soul. It was just so funny, because Schiaparelli is such an old house, and the atelier has this really proper kind of feeling to it. And I feel like once we arrived it became something totally chaotic – I don’t know if the energy had ever been that high in that room [laughs]. Everybody was half naked. I had my shoes off giving Julia my socks at one point. Everybody was running around the place. It was so much fun though, everyone was just really in the moment. And then it came to life in a way that was crazier than we ever could have expected.
It must be fun to work with someone like Julia who is so fearless, no? Who really lives for fashion and doesn’t give a fuck what people are going to say about it?
Briana Andalore: I think that’s why we’re like sisters, because we both kind of don’t give a fuck in this way. Although Julia definitely more so than me. We just go through life and exist in our own kind of world, in our family, in our little unit here. Dressing her is so much fun – it’s not like a job, really. We’re just hanging out and I’m saying, you need to put this on, or we need to lower this or cut this. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things are harder. It definitely felt like a lot more pressure earlier this year knowing there were going to be so many more people looking at her. In that moment, it was very intense. I don’t think we ever realised the magnitude of what was really happening, just because you’re so in it. You’re in this room filled with the clothes, and then Julia puts them on and walks out the door, and then the internet reacts… The first time I think we realised it was when we were leaving the Kenzo show, and people were jumping and screaming and chasing us. We both just said, ‘This is crazy.’ Who experiences that? Celebrities, I guess, experience that [laughs]. It was very surreal.
“Everything Julia does has definitely been a form of art. I think that’s just how her brain works, and how all of our group’s brains work. It’s all about creating, and we’re always doing or creating something, even when we’re just sitting in the living room and talking and showing each other photos or references” – Briana Andalore
Julia’s been serving some major looks recently too while she’s been in Los Angeles. What has been your process now that you’re working on opposite coasts?
Briana Andalore: Yeah, Julia’s been filming for the last four or five months over there, and I was kind of in and out for two months in the beginning, but LA is actually not my favourite place, so I said, okay I’m gonna take a little break and go back to New York. I send her things, and she just puts it together the way she wants to wear it. I miss her and I miss our full style outs, just because those are always super fun, and I love to be more hands on with things with her. But recently, since she’s been there, her schedule has been kinda crazy. She’s a mom, and Valentino [Julia’s son] is a full time job really. The movie is a full time job. Fashion is a full time job for her also. So we just have to do it the way that we have to do it.
I was particularly obsessed with the outfit she wore to go grocery shopping recently – the underwear and the denim coat.
Briana Andalore: I actually wasn’t 100 per cent a part of that look, but I was a part of this in a past moment. She actually wore underwear and a bra at Versailles, when we went to Paris like 10 years ago. We ended up at Versailles and she walked through the Hall of Mirrors in panties and a bra.
Just for fun? Not for a fashion event or anything?
Briana Andalore: No, we were just always doing fashion events, before we even knew we were doing fashion events, I think [laughs]. She had these neon orange Jimmy Choo pumps on and blue fishnets. I was just like, ‘Julia! I can’t believe you!’ I think I was going through quite an uptight moment with my own fashion at that point, where I was wearing all this Missoni and turtleneck dresses and wanted to be an adult. I changed my mind again later, of course. When I saw the shopping look the other day, at first I was a bit like, ‘Who let her out of the house like this?’ But then I realised it was obviously iconic. She just kind of comes up with these moments on her own that are very Julia.
It seems like there is a level of self-awareness and a kind of playfulness in how Julia approaches her style now too. Some people have even described it as a kind of celebrity performance art. Would you agree with that?
Briana Andalore: Well yeah, I mean she did R.I.P. Julia Fox back in 2017, which was this exhibition that was essentially her own funeral. I think there are still pictures of it floating around, she wore a white dress, and I wore lingerie and this veil over my head – essentially we were mourning her in this weird way while she was there. I think it was maybe supposed to be more of a rebirth, I can’t remember. But everything she does has definitely been a form of art. I think that’s just how her brain works, and how all of our group’s brains work. It’s all about creating, and we’re always doing or creating something, even when we’re just sitting in the living room and talking and showing each other photos or references. She just feels it in that second and kind of lives it and does it, which is brilliant, obviously.
“Paris was insane. It was by far one of the coolest experiences of our lives. Daniel [Roseberry] at Schiaparelli is just the sweetest guy ever. And he really did take off his pants for Julia to wear as part of her outfit, so god bless his soul” – Briana Andalore
The way you describe the working dynamic between yourself, Julia and Richie feels less like a conventional relationship between actress, stylist and photographer, and more like a collective, or even a family unit.
Briana Andalore: Richie, Julia, and I lived together for over 15 years, in what was really a kind of commune house. It was also a house where other kids who didn’t have families in the traditional sense could stay or hang out. We all have families, but we’re city kids, we grew up on the street and the subway really, so we kind of made our own family dynamic. Richie’s actually doing a piece for the Tribeca Film Festival that’s coming out next month about chosen families, that I’m in and Julia’s in and that I styled. Yet again, it’s just us all working together to create whatever one of us wants to create in that moment. So definitely a collective, family vibe.
And what’s next for you? Do you want to keep scaling up your styling work?
Briana Andalore: Julia and I definitely have some things in the works, potentially some collaborations, but everything’s still in a fairly infant stage. So I don’t know what that will look like exactly, nothing has been finalised. We’ve definitely had some interesting conversations with some brands that maybe we could have a moment with, so that’s on the horizon potentially. I think it’s just about taking it step by step and seeing what comes through. Working with cool people – I’m always down for that. Doing some fun editorials would be great. I kind of live very one day at a time. I don’t know if that’s the best way, and whether I should dream or manifest more, but I’m pretty open to it all. But it’s worked fine so far, and I still don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up.