Friday, February 19, 2010

Interview with Torture Couture's Creator Graciela Martell

Torture Couture was initially conceived by Graciela Martell (aka Miss Torture) as a made-up project for a brand imaging class at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in Los Angeles. The assignment was to create a brand, form a target market and create a collection to present to the world. Graciela’s collection consisted of career-wear staples with gothic or edgy influences. Her partner-in-crime came up with the name “Torture Couture” because it matched the ideal look of the collection (couture with an edge), and because the two words looked like a good match! In this incarnation, Torture Couture’s target market was the strong-willed business woman, who, of course, was a trendsetter.

After graduating in 2004, Graciela decided it wasn’t such a bad idea to follow through with the idea of creating Torture Couture based on the brand she had created at FIDM. In the process of designing the collection, Graciela started to make jewelry and accessories for herself. She discovered that other people loved her creations and she’s been making accessories under the Torture Couture brand ever since! The clothing collection is still in the works, but it will be drastically different than the original career staples she created for her class.

Torture Couture is currently a two-person operation.  Besides founder and owner Graciela, there is fabulous webmaster Ross Brown of One-Track Studios. Torture Couture wouldn’t be what it is today without the beautiful crew of models and photographers as well as fierce contributing artist Callow Lily. Torture Couture has a lot of big things planned this year and is currently available for wholesale!

Fatally Yours: How and when did you fall in love with horror? 

Miss Torture: I was a bookworm as a kid so Stephen King was my first taste of horror. My first treasured book was The Talisman [by Stephen King and Peter Straub].

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you? 

Miss Torture: Horror means never having to let them live. Horror movies mean I can be myself, knowing there’s someone out there a little more twisted in thought than myself. It’s an outlet for me, personally.

Fatally Yours: How do you incorporate “horror” into your designs?

Miss Torture: Still a girlie ghoul at heart, I like to think our horror items are still feminine. Our bleeding roses, villain cameos, or even the Scary Tales Collection, they’re all very girlie regardless of what influenced the items. The artwork is all done by my favorite artist, Callow Lily, (even Torture logos) which we also incorporate into the items. There’s a little horror in every section of the Torture site.

Fatally Yours: What other things influence your designs? 

Miss Torture: As of late, I’m very inspired by my dreams.  I’ve been creating the latest items off of what I dreamt the night before-it’s spooky. Also music, musicals, films, the current state of mind I’m in, Callow Lily, dominant or strong-minded women, my model muses…just every-day life.

Fatally Yours: What inspired you to start your own clothing company and embrace such a dark aesthetic? 

Miss Torture:  I knew as a kid I would be doing this or something similar in fashion.  I haven’t perfected my first clothing collection-but I will.  I’m just partial to black, what can I say…

Fatally Yours: What challenges have you faced and overcome with Torture Couture?

Miss Torture: Catty designers. No one likes the new kid in school, of course. I stay civil with other designers, and I suggest they do the same for business-sake.

Fatally Yours: Your accessories have been worn by some very famous people and models! Do you have a favorite person who has worn your designs? 

Miss Torture: They’re all so talented!  I couldn’t choose just one! I heart them all-Bernie Dexter, Chris Motionless, Masuimi Max, Miss Derringer…They’ve all been wonderful to us and we’re so very grateful for the support.

Fatally Yours: If you could choose anyone, living or dead, to model Torture Couture who would it be and why? 

Miss Torture: Lots of people have said it, but I have to say Bettie Page. She’s the perfect Torture girl. And one who would never say she was sorry for what she said, did, or wore.  My ideal Torture ghoul is her own woman.

Fatally Yours: It seems most of the horror-themed clothing companies only offer clothing in men’s sizes. Why do you think the horror genre has been primarily a male’s domain?

Miss Torture: People assume men are the majority interested in horror, but it’s so untrue these days! A large portion of our customers are horror fans, and most importantly, they are women. Give a gal a little credit, I’m certain some of the most horrifying minds today belong to spooky little girls.

Fatally Yours: What elements can female designers bring to horror-themed clothing that is different than males’ designs?

Miss Torture: I think we bring items to life, as opposed to just plastering horror images onto a t-shirt.

Fatally Yours: How do you feel about people that think women are too “soft” to handle horror themes? 

Miss Torture: Only someone who is afraid of women would say that.

Fatally Yours: What women do you look up to and admire and why?

Miss Torture: I’m not going to name names, but I do admire any woman who is strong-willed, her own person, with the guts to do with her life as she pleases. Like my Mother, I suppose.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to start their own clothing company?

Miss Torture: Don’t let negative advice keep you down. Do what you feel is best for yourself or your business, without losing integrity. Quality over quantity. Be an honest business. Do what you love. And spoil your crew rotten (models and photographers).

Fatally Yours: What’s the last horror movie/book you saw/read?

Miss Torture: The last book I read was Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite. It’s not a new book or anything but it’s one of my favorites. I read it often.

Fatally Yours: What’s one horror movie you think is HIGHLY underrated?

Miss Torture: OTIS. It’s not hardcore, it‘s got comedy, but COME ON! It’s a really good movie.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films, books, etc.?

Miss TortureAudition, Dracula, Suspiria, Tale of Two Sisters, Hellraiser, Hellraiser Bloodline, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Ginger Snaps, High Tension, House of 1000 Corpses, se7en, American Psycho, Feast, Natural Born Killers, Army of Darkness, Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell.

Fatally Yours: Do you have any new designs you’d like to tell us about?

Miss Torture: Our newest collection Wonderland Lolita has commenced and there will be new items from that series put up from now through March!

Fatally Yours: What can we expect from you and Torture Couture in the future?

Miss Torture: An evolution of our style, and broader range of items, including clothing-coming soon!

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you and your designs?

Miss Torture:  You can contact me at this email: or
Links to our MySpace and Facebook pages can be found on our web site: Blingin’ out the Undead:

Stay Torture(d)!

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