Lauren Matesic is having a busy year, but she’s used to it. The owner and award winning designer of Castle Corsetry added “producer of traveling fashion show” to her list of accomplishments three months ago, launching Le Geek So Chic with partners Chrissy Lynn and Bernadette Bentley. In the past couple of months alone, Matesic not only brought that fashion show to Comikaze but also launched a line of superhero activewear designed to meet the diverse fit needs of her fans.
Geek & Sundry managed to pin down the multi-hyphenate for an interview that took us from her early inspirations to her transition into designing fandom fashions fit for the runway, gym, or anywhere fans want to showcase their geek pride.
You founded Castle Corsetry in 2009. What’s your origin story? Both in fashion and more specifically geek fashion?
Lauren Matesic: I’ve been sewing since I was six years old when my mother taught me. I used to make clothes for my American Girl Dolls then graduated to making Halloween costumes for myself with my awesome mom’s help. I decided at a very young age that I wanted to go into fashion, so when it came time to apply for college, I went straight to looking into fashion schools.
I decided on the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and immediately got accepted. For a graduation present, I asked my parents to cover my expenses to an outside corset making workshop with Linda of Farthingales Corsets based in Canada. I started working for her immediately, doing production sewing for corsets with her. I then thought it would be fun to make one for myself from some Star Wars fabrics I had lying around. I wore it to San Diego Comic Con and the rest is history.
What made you want to move from designing for celebs to designing for geek fandom full time?
Matesic: For two years, I was the designer for Trashy Lingerie, where I had a bevy of celebrity clients. Though my job there was a bit more mainstream, our main focus was Halloween costumes for the stars, where I still got to sneak in my geek influences by designing pieces and collections inspired by my favorite fandoms.
When I left in 2012, I dove into my side project, Castle Corsetry, full time and have attempted to make a career from cosplay, corsets, and costume design. It’s a niche market, but I think I’m doing okay! I may not be designing for Kim Kardashian and Holly Madison anymore, but I love working with the geek celebrities that I’ve gotten to meet over the years like Adrianne Curry and Team Unicorn, as they’re part of my nerd tribe!
Tell us a little bit about your project Le Geek So Chic.
Matesic: I’ve been doing geek fashion shows at conventions for the last three years now, curating geek designers and models across the country. Le Geek So Chic is just our new branding, as we’re trying to spread our wings a little bit further to come out to more conventions and events nation-wide and hopefully internationally!
My partners Chrissy Lynn, Bernadette Bentley, and I have a vision and goal to be able to bring wearable nerd fashion to the public eye. No more cutting up boys’ tee shirts to make cute women’s clothing! Geeks are inheriting the earth, and the fashion movement is starting to get behind that.
We’re also devoted to body positivity in the community. We don’t just use skinny fashion models on our stage, though Adrianne Curry has been seen on our catwalks! Models of all shapes, sizes, and ages walk for us, as we want the clothing to speak to everyone in our audience.
What are your observations on the proliferation of more refined geek fashion options over the last 5 years? A nerd fashion week can’t be far off.
Matesic: Actually, Geek Fashion Week is something that has already been kind of started here in Los Angeles, and I put on the fashion show for it! I definitely think that there’s more on the horizon for geek fashion in general, and hope that Geek Fashion Week is something that can blossom and grow! I think female fans in the nerd community everywhere are hungry for more products geared directly towards them, so supply and demand are only ever going to make this industry grow.
So how do you see yourself expanding Le Geek So Chic in terms of content and programming in the next few years?
Matesic: I am so excited for Le Geek So Chic to grow as a brand. Chrissy, Bernadette, and I are an amazing team who compliment each other incredibly. Bernadette brings her unique skills as an actor and dancer to help us make sure the show looks amazing from the audience’s point of view. She essentially choreographs everything and teaches the models how to strut their stuff on stage to make the best possible show.
Chrissy Lynn has a background as a hair and makeup artist in the industry, so she coordinates our [Makeup And Hair] team and makes sure the models look and feel amazing. With my fashion design history, I curate the designers and looks that get to be shown onstage. We’re an unstoppable trio.
Our ultimate goal is to travel to as many cities around the world as we can. We want the world to know the possibilities for the future of geek fashion, and want to be its leaders.
What was one of the biggest challenges in getting the show up and running in the first place?
Matesic: Every show has its challenges and hurdles. We have more resources available to us at some shows than others, so it’s very different every time. I think the most repetitive struggle is just in wrangling 60+ women in one room! It’s like herding cats!
What led you to design active wear? What things were most important to you when designing that line?
Matesic: I have been making gym pants for myself for over a year now, just because I love comfy, stretchy pants, but only if there are pockets for my phone!! Having pockets is one of the biggest selling points for me in a lot of clothing.
Everyone loved my pants and seeing what contrast fabrics I used, and it really grew organically. When there’s a demand, it would be silly of me not to supply! From there, it was just a matter of developing different complete looks and outfits to coordinate with.
After that, I teamed up with my friends at Nerdstrong Gym to set up a photoshoot and develop the patterns to withstand their workout tests in action. The female trainers there have loved every second of it, and I can’t be more proud.
Our biggest goal is to make women of all sizes feel comfortable and confident whether sweating it out in the gym or just rocking them around town!
Featured photo credit: Greg de Stefano via Castle Corsetry