Speak Up! : Jonny Cota of Skingraft Designs
First things first, tell us about yourself & your product!
I am Jonny Cota of Skingraft Designs. I am one of the three designers behind Skingraft. Together, we design our line as a fusion between the ancient and the present, and often times the future. Just a few years ago we were all vaudeville circus performers performing around the country in different troupes. Two of us were stilters while the other was a tribal bellydancer. Somehow we all found our way into the fashon world through an interest in building eccentric costuming.
For the last 3 years we have put every second of our lives into creating our line, Skingraft. Based in downtown Los Angeles, we started our business on one old sewing machine in a small bedroom and are now growing into a vibrant clothing line that produces ready-to-wear collections, couture costuming and even bridal gowns. Our style can be described as a “victorian punk rocker riding a regal horse to her gothic wedding,” or something like that, haha. We design items for men, women and everyone in between.
What makes you Haute Macabre?
Skingraft is obsessed with dead things. However, the obsession doesn’t lie in the “death” of the things but moreso in the challenge to bring them back to life. Whether we are sculpting a taxidermied bird into a new hat or spending hours embellishing fox faces with little bits of metal and jewels, our inspiration is driven by making these dead animals into something that lives forever; a totem of life before and after death. We relish in all sorts of dark imagery and approach such darkness respectfully and humbly. I think this is exactly what makes Skingraft Haute Macabre, the intrinsic honor of death and darkness. With honor comes care and precision, and these are precisely the attributes we strive for in our designs.
Were you a potential serial killer as a child, that instead evolved into a designer?
As a child I was a potential zoo keeper, as a teenager a potential serial killer, and as a young adult I was very close to becoming a drag queen. Somehow all three of those ideas came together to form my contribution to Skingraft, and in a way it all makes perfect sense.
How would you describe your personal style?
Skinny, black and basic. When I first started designing Skingraft a few years ago my style was fully adorned with chunky jewelry, leather accessories, distressed jackets and customized hats. I would just wake up in the morning and pile it all on, head to toe in detail. After a few years designing extremely detailed and embellished designs for Skingraft it was easy to feel the fire of rebellion against all things overly ornate. These days I put more of my vision into the designs and into the art and keep myself dressed very straight-forward. However, I still sew in black boots, its the only way to work.
What would you wear for a moon landing?
When I land on the moon I will be firm in my decision to wear a classic spacesuit just like the astronauts before me. And as soon as I step onto the surface of the moon, I will happily give in to the excitement to treat my spacesuit as a wetset in the ocean and fill it with pee.
Leather or Lace? Why?
Leather, of course. PETA would never throw red paint on lace.
Do you ever notice footwear in your dreams?
I wish I could say that I dreamt of the most amazing footwear ever imagined, but instead the footwear in my dreams is always embarrassingly boring. The garments coupled with the footwear are spectacular but the shoes are straight from the mall. I guess that’s why I design clothes and not footwear.
What style advice to you have to share?
Life is too short to wear tennis shoes. Dress each day as if it were your last, because someday it will be. Your mother’s advice to you when you were in kindergarten is still incredibly accurate, be yourself and everyone will love you.