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Menswear for the Midnight Rambler

Metropolis / Designing Men: Rocker Androgyny Has Pride of Place in the Designs of Ryan Heffington

September 08, 2002|ANDREW VONTZ

You'd never know it from looking at the members of Linkin Park, but androgyny is a proud tradition in rock 'n' roll. From Mick Jagger to David Bowie, Steven Tyler and Marilyn Manson, rock star charisma often resides in a subversive hint of femininity beneath the swaggering machismo.

It's that dichotomy between hard and soft, masculine and feminine, that inspired L.A. designer Ryan Heffington, 29, to create his Rock 'n' Sissy line three years ago. Heffington's designs are primarily one-of-a-kind, boho-chic T-shirts using pastiche construction techniques, printing and a variety of bold, bright materials. The dramatic Rock 'n' Sissy style stems from the work Heffington has done for the past seven years as a costume designer, choreographer and dancer for the L.A.-based troupes Psycho Dance Sho and Hysterica Dance Company. "Sometimes I'd create outfits using duct tape and material because at the time I didn't know how to sew," Heffington says of the early days. "When the show was over, I'd have to cut them out."

To promote his designs, Heffington wore Rock 'n' Sissy T-shirts when he went clubbing. He also made shirts available when approached by stylists and assistants he knew. Today, Rock 'n' Sissy shirts are available at Aero & Co. in Los Angeles and also at invite-only "shirt social" parties that Heffington throws every few months at clubs around L.A., including Socket, an electro night he promotes with a friend at the Parlour in West Hollywood.

In true androgynous spirit, Rock 'n' Sissy wear works for men or women--hardly a sticking point for rock blades such as Mick Jagger and Dave Navarro, who have worn the shirts. Rock 'n' Sissy's latest musical alliance is with the electro artist Mount Sims on the Emperor Norton and International DeeJay Gigolos labels. In addition to designing the clothes for Mount Sims and his dancers' current tour, Heffington is dancing on the tour. But this time, he'll save the duct tape for leaky pipes.

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