Black History 365: Sabrina Brokenborough

Why are you dressed like that? A question posed to those who dress with creativity, vision, individuality – from those who just may not totally get it. For Pratt fashion student Sabrina Brokenborough, she’s adopted the phrase to create a visual diary of her looks, a mix of vintage petticoats and bonnets with heavy Japanese street fashion influence, self described as “very girly. I like big skirts with lots of ruffles and lace. I’m really into florals right now and dusty pinks too.”

On style evolution.

I’ve been playing with fashion since middle school, but high school was really when I was able to use the internet to buy clothes that weren’t accessible to me otherwise. I think I saw a Fruits snapshot on Tumblr of some girls wearing Lolita and Gunne sax dresses and it just clicked. I wanted to dress just like them.

I’ve noticed a switch in my fashion style recently. I used to wear a lot of primary colors and short skirts, but now I mostly lean into softer pinks and florals. I wear a lot of long skirts now. I don’t know,  I appreciate the way the fabric moves around my ankles when I walk.

Right now there’s a little bit of a divide between myself as a person and myself as a designer.

I think going into fashion design I like to explore a lot of unusual fabric combinations and textures while in my usual style is pretty predictable – peter pan collar, ruffle, florals, petticoat, big skirt, and plaids for the fall. Maybe in the future my designs will reflect more of my personal style, but for the moment I’m happy to play with fabrics and textures.

The fashion industry can be a little intimidating to break into, especially now since the world has been turned upside down. Best case is to get an assistant design position at a brand I love. I don’t think I’d go head first into creating my own brand.

I think it’s important to remember that life is really really short and you don’t want to waste time being uncomfortable while trying to fit in.

I feel like especially in the age of the internet it’s easy to find a group of people with similar interests experimenting with fashion. Before it was easy to think that no one dressed outside of the norm, but now  the world is really your oyster. Basically, look up alternative fashion tags on instagram and connect with people online with fashion styles you admire. Really focus on buying clothes you feel drawn to. Don’t buy anything that you don’t 100% love.

Inspiration lives everywhere.

I have a collection of old fashion books that I like to flip through. I really liked how frivolous and over the top clothes used to be.I think we lost a bit of that to the practicality of modern life. I like to watch 1950s movies for the costumes especially if they were designed by Edith Head, but sometimes the racism and sexism from those movies make me cringe.

From the shows. 

Gucci Fall/Winter 2020. So many dresses with lace and ruffles and beautiful collars. I like how they paired the ornate skirts with soft sweaters and I appreciate how the dressing room was clear so you could get an idea of the amount of work that goes into making a fashion show. I think it’s important to highlight the work goes into making clothes and these presentations, it makes you appreciate the art.

The fashion decade.

The 1830s! Love the big sleeves and bonnets.

On icons.

From real life it’s Misako Aoki, from fiction literally any “girly girl” character in a movie or TV show.

Elements of an outfit.

A cohesive theme and matching colors and textures. There needs to be a good color balance throughout, really honing in on the core colors and working around that.

To jolt creativity in the city, a visit to the garment district will do.

Just walking around and looking at the different fabrics gets the gears going. I always just walk around and think “Oh wouldn’t it be cool if that fabric was used for this or could be made into that?”.

Always berets.

I have a stack of berets on the top shelf of my closet and I just pick whichever color goes best with the outfit. I love berets. I’m getting pretty close to owning one in every color.

Places to find vintage.

I like to lurk around on eBay and instagram for nice dresses. The best deals are from clueless sellers trying to get rid of their grandma’s old clothes, that’s where you can find gold. In New York I usually scout around the usual places like L Train, Buffalo Exchange, and Goodwill. However, my favorite thrift store is the Philly Aid’s thrift store in Philadelphia. I’ve found the best stuff there and it’s always worth the trip – t’s a really nice place that benefits AIDS/HIV treatment and research programs.

The perfect day.

–Breakfast and tea at Ladurée, they have yummy french toast!

–Walk around the MET (especially if the fashion exhibit is up)

–Drink a bubble tea and walk around the Upper East Side window shopping

–Afternoon tea at Lady Mendl’s

–Buy a bouquet of flowers to bring home 🙂