For W’s annual The Originals portfolio, we asked creatives—pioneers in the fields of art, music, food, dance, fashion, and more—to share their insights on staying true to themselves. See this year’s full class of creatives here.
You started out making comedic, fashion-focused illustrations. Then, a few years ago, you posted videos on TikTok and Instagram, re-creating runway and celebrity looks with everyday items. When you’re at a party and someone asks what you do, what do you say?
Usually, I say I’m an artist. I used to say I’m an illustrator, but in my mind, illustrator implies you are illustrating someone else’s concepts. Now I think the broader term “artist” is fine.
Angelica Hicks wears a Gucci coat, sunglasses, and shoes.
Hicks’s version of the same outfit, made with her own coat, a faux fur pillowcase collar, and leg warmer cuffs; sunglasses cut from a dog cone; shoes with wigs, duct tape, and aluminum foil horse bits.
So the follow-up question is usually: What kind of art do you do?
The best answer is: I engage with fashion in a satirical manner. Initially, I was doing that through illustration, and now I also do that through video. So it’s basically popular culture commentary that has moved beyond my initial interpretation through watercolor or pen.
Could you ever have imagined a career like this when you were growing up?
No. My mom was a textile designer, and my dad worked in furniture. I was dismissive of creative pursuits because they’re not stable. I wanted to be an investment banker, because I thought, Wow, that’s something that no one in my family does, which is obviously crazy. I had no concept of what banking actually meant.
Louis Vuitton dress.
Garment bag dress with HVAC tube sleeves, a paper collar, duct tape accents, and a USB cable strap.
Were you an artistic kid?
I grew up with a confidence with art because it was encouraged at home. When it comes to Christmas and birthday gifts, my parents always say, “Don’t buy us anything”; we have to make them gifts instead. Most people think about Christmas and say, “Oh my god, I’m going to have to spend so much money,” but I think, Oh my god, it’s going to be two weeks of work.
Your videos where you re-create celebrity and runway looks have really struck a chord. Why do you think people love them so much?
I don’t speak in the videos, and that allows me to connect with people in many different places. My illustration captions were in English, which was limiting, though people would often translate them in the comments section. But with the TikTok videos, quite a lot of people watch them, and many comment the same thing, which I believe translates to: “Poverty will not overcome me. I will get the look.”
Any favorite outfit re-creations?
Miley Cyrus’s Prada outfit on the cover of British Vogue that I made out of cabbage. The coolest thing about that was, the day I saw the magazine, I went to pick up my CSA box, and there was cabbage in there. I was like, I need to do this.
Balmain cape, bodysuit, pants, hat, earrings, and shoes.
Bath towel cape; Spanx bodysuit; skirt fashioned from a silk robe; ski pants; frying pan hat wrapped in a T-shirt; shoes made of sheer socks stretched over cardboard boxes.
You often work with brands, but you also poke fun at them. How do you toe the line?
I’m laughing with them, not at them. Plus, isn’t it better to have a rip-off of Prada made out of cabbage than an actual fake? At the end of the day, it gets more eyeballs on the dress.
Are there any brands you would love to work with but haven’t gotten to yet?
Loewe. I’ve always loved Jonathan Anderson and what he does. It feels like we speak the same language.
Hair by Brenton Diallo for Matrix at See Management; makeup by Stevie Huynh for Makeup Forever at Bryant Artists; photo assistant: Cody Ross; digital technician: Justin Pietropaoli; fashion assistant: Tori López; tailor: Lindsay Wright.