Article by Michelle Rose
Photography by Lauren Wade
On a crisp spring day in Los Angeles, garment designer Michelle Rose and photographer Lauren Wade tirelessly traversed a veritable maze of winding roads to meet for a photo shoot with the one and only Sean The Star Emperor, who must have beamed into the nature-preserved pocket known as Franklin Canyon Park from above.
Sean wore Michelle's signature Lightning Leggings in Lavender/Gunmetal Ombré and the newer Cha Cha Chakra Ruffle Bottoms in Fool's Jewels combined with his own pieces to create otherworldly looks that showcase his own animé-inspired personal style.
A post-shoot interview had designer and model sitting down to discuss his mission on Earth, the biggest problem with politics, why New York City might as well be Ohio, and the fashion of Sailor Moon.
Watch the interview on our YouTube channel, or read on & view photos from the shoot below.
Michelle Rose: We’re here with Sean The Star Emperor. Hi.
Sean The Star Emperor: Hello hello.
MR: Hello! Tell us about yourself and your art.
STSE: Well okay, I do dance glam house music. If you research, I have this whole mythos about me and my origins, coming from another galaxy – a hidden, secret galaxy between Sirius A and B, out in the Orion constellation. I’m here on Earth to bring uninhibited fun. That’s what I’m about.
MR: Uninhibited fun.
STSE: Uninhibited fun. If you wanna take your kids to school in the morning, but at night change your gender then so be it, it’s fun. You know?
MR: Awesome, yes! So, what are you wearing today? This is your second look. Why don’t you tell us about my garment, and then also what you paired it with.
STSE: Okay, so I have all of your lighting bolt leggings, because I love things that have to do with the constellations, the sky, the cosmos, space, so lightning comes from above, like me. So that’s what I love about this. And it just really keeps me in, because I’m not – even though I’m not overweight or anything – you know, I got a little jelly. But I feel so powerful with the lighting bolts and the leggings, it’s just a look that anybody can do. Male, female, man, woman, straight, gender fluid. It’s just such a cool, cool look, and I love it and I always get compliments. This is my third color. I love it.
MR: Thank you!
STSE: Yes, of course! I paired it with a mesh top from a vintage thrift shop, and this was a bespoke Star Emperor, I think circa 2014 performance outfit. So yeah, this is versatile and you can use it with everything. So thank you!
MR: Yeah! You’re welcome.
STSE: We’re both rocking the purples, I love that.
MR: And now earlier, you were also wearing our ruffle bottom pants.
STSE: Ruffle bottom, as we call them the –
Both: Cha Cha Chakra!
MR: Yes! And you paired that with another jacket.
STSE: Yeah, I have an iridescent trench coat that I got at a thrift shop that I can’t believe, it was brand new – I can’t believe someone didn’t want to keep it or it wasn’t bought yet, but it was especially for me and I use it for everything. So again, I love getting pieces from here and there and mixing them and fusing them. But it seems like, you know, Miss Jupiter and Spacedust is my go-to for all my foundations. Whether it’s just to get a gift for someone, or for myself to add flair to whatever outfit I have, I always come to you.
MR: Yeah! Do you remember the first time you came to Spacedust?
STSE: Well, the first time I came to Spacedust, I happened to be doing a festival called Echo Park Rising, at your neighboring store, and I walked past your store, I was like – this is actually really cool. And I looked in and I was like – oh my god, it’s Miss Jupiter. Because, I don’t know if everyone knows, but the owner of the store, Michelle, is also an amazing artist in her own right. So I just loved everything about you. Like, what you own your own store too? How much cooler can you get, you know? And you had the things, the pieces I was looking for. I’m looking for cosmic, I’m looking for something that you can’t go to Zara and everyone else is gonna wear. I mean, it’s bespoke things, not just for one individual, but it’s unique to you, so you only can get it there, and I love that. Plus it’s cool to be shopping in Echo Park and adding to the community that is Echo Park. I just feel like Sunset Blvd and Echo Park is just an LA thing, like you have to go there and get some stuff. That’s LA, you know?
MR: What do you think is the biggest – how can you summarize Echo Park with some adjectives?
STSE: For me, I don’t know, Echo Park I always see… something about Sunset. On Sunset Blvd in Echo Park, it’s just like urban bliss. That’s what it is. Especially on your little corner of Mohawk Bend and the boulevard, it’s just like something about Sunset, it’s like this urban gritty flair. So you know you’re in the city, but the sunset with it – it’s like, wow, this is what everyone dreamed about when coming to LA, you know? Something about fun in the sun, cool, the counter-culture that exists in Echo Park is amazing.
MR: Originality, creativity.
STSE: People do whatever they want. They’re very artistic. There’s just something – you can’t beat it. It bleeds into Silverlake, Echo Park, especially right there. It’s like the crossroads between the two, and the very similar identities exist there, however something about the Echo Park side is even cooler. It’s cooler and tougher. Not in a way that we have to be scared but it’s edgy. I love it.
MR: And we love being in Echo Park.
STSE: Yes, you can’t be anywhere else. And the city itself adds to the character of the people in the store.
MR: So, how would you describe your personal aesthetic, your personal style? Do you have any ways to describe that?
STSE: Yeah! Well, I am an emperor, so there’s a regality to my wardrobe, and I’m from another planet, and the cosmos, so there’s a lot of iridescence. So, think about – I don’t know if you remember Flash Gordon? It’s like Flash Gordon meets Jem & The Holograms. Which I think is the perfect fusion between the glam and LA, with intergalactic-ness. That’s it.
MR: And also perfectly encapsulates what I like to do and why we’ve been drawn to each other.
STSE: Exactly! You get it, for sure. We’re like the yin and the yang.
MR: Yes. So for you, where do style and art intersect?
STSE: I mean, they do! They intersect. For me, you know I love to think of myself as a living anime. And I think especially like – I love Sailor Moon, but what people don’t realize about Sailor Moon – when they’re not doing all the cosmic transformation things, which I love – if you pay close attention to – especially the Sailor Moon that existed in the ‘90s – you see their everyday outfits were highly inspired – the original artist of the manga – was highly inspired by couture fashion of the late ‘80s and ‘90s. You can see it, and she even talks about how she went back to watching Dior runway shows and Yves Saint Laurent and Gaultier, and added it into the girls’ fashion. And that’s why they’re all so really svelte with long legs, because it’s paying homage to the models.
MR: And fashion illustration.
STSE: Exactly. So, for me, part of the fiction of the Star Emperor, part of the whole origin story, is kind of harkening back to this whole Sailor Moon mythos, too. And that encapsulated into my fashion. So again, I’m drawing on the ‘80s glam fantasy stuff that existed with Jem, and even Sailor Moon, because they did start out in the ‘80s too. And so it’s all that mixed in with the Misfits, I love the Misfits from Jem as well.
MR: Yeah – the evil version.
STSE: Yeah! It’s all of that, because it’s like music, fashion, rock, and magic. And that’s what the Star Emperor is. I love all that.
MR: Love that, just that phrase. Yes. So – going back a little bit to shopping local. What do you feel is the most important thing about shopping local?
STSE: The most important thing about shopping locally is the fact that you’re doing it, because you have to give back to the community in any way that you can, because we are being overrun but this mass homogenization of stores and big corporate stores. And I have nothing against big corporations, because honestly that’s what America is about, and the big corporations have the power to sustain industries, right? So that’s important, and I have nothing against that. But at the same token, you need individuality, and you can’t get that from a big corporation. And if you squash out the small guys, you’re losing the fundamentals of what America is about, and it’s about being intrepid, and maybe one day the small person becomes a corporation of their own. But if they’re too powerful, that could never happen.
MR: Right, we need to preserve that space.
STSE: We might want to have Spacedust Unlimited, all over, right? And it can’t happen if they’re just way too powerful. But it’s a problem that's I think, more so now than ever before. For instance, I grew up in and out of the New York City area, I’m from New Jersey but I have tons of family in New York, and I went to school in New York, and I was born in New York – so New York was a part of my life, because I spent all of my big major family holidays there. And I remember a time where you’d go to Times Square, and that used to be an insult. Ooh, people used to say, “oh your mother works on 42nd St.” That meant she was a hooker, because of all the XXX places. Now you go there and it’s just like Starbucks, McDonald’s, AMC. Starbucks, McDonald’s, AMC. Starbucks, McDonald’s, AMC. So now it means, you don’t need to be in New York to experience New York. 'Cause the whole part of New York was that it was so unique and different. But now you go there, and you have access to everything you have in Ohio. And that’s the problem with too many corporations. Regardless of what you think about those kinds of industries and businesses, it gave identity. And that’s why you have to support small businesses, because it gives identity to your locale. Sorry for being long-winded!
MR: No, that’s great, I love that. Do you have another favorite place or environment in LA, or around LA, that you like to spend time in, create in, be inspired by?
STSE: Well honestly, I wanted to come here because this is one of my go-to spots, especially during the pandemic, especially through all that.
MR: Yes, you chose this location. So we’re in, um–
Lauren Wade: Where are we?
STSE: We are in Franklin Canyon Park. It’s a reservoir, but it looks just like you’re in – sometimes people think it’s upstate New York. It just looks like – I like to think it’s the place in The Parent Trap that they go to when they’re trying to get rid of the soon-to-be stepmom. This is where we’re at. The wilderness in the middle of Studio City, LA. You don’t know it’s here – the other side’s Beverly Hills, and it’s actually a sneak route into Beverly Hills if you want to go around the local lake. And it’s great, I feel like my childhood, when we used to go on those class trips. Because there’s a little conservation center, a little duck area, a koi area, there’s a little amphitheater. So it’s just cool, I love it. You can do your exercise and really absorb nature. There’s cougars and snakes too. Coyotes.
MR: Maybe nature will absorb us.
STSE: Yeah. There’s little water features and streams throughout. It’s awesome, I love it here. I definitely download, for sure.
MR: Thanks for bringing us here. So beautiful and tranquil. Is there one change that you can name that you would like to see in the world? And how do you think that we can enact this change?
STSE: You know, in recent issues with politics, no matter where you lay on it, I just think the issue going on is we have people who are just way too old to be ruling the masses. I think they’re so much older than the majority of the people that they’re meant to oversee, that they’re so out of touch and it’s really hurting society. I think because of that is why we have problems, because there’s a point when you’re so old, you don’t have a vested interest in what’s going on because you know you’re one foot out the door. You know? And it’s hurting us.
MR: Yeah, and they have outdated ideas.
STSE: Outdated ideas and ideals. Antiquated. And it’s killing us. That’s where I wanna go with that one.
MR: Yeah, they’re not properly serving us.
STSE: I think because people are living longer, because we have better technology to keep us alive longer, that is becoming a detriment to society because nobody is caring to retire and letting the younger people enforce their ideas and ideals and help.
MR: Right, we’re not really growing as a society if that doesn’t happen.
STSE: I don’t think so. At least the American society, not at all. As well as, I feel like those people who have been in power for so long, and even if you see it in just regular industry, they’re not helping to raise up the younger ones. So there’s this stagnation of people who are in their late 20s, early 30s, or even younger, where they get to [that age], and then they’re just halted because there are these people just like, “no no no, I’m here, I have power and I’m still alive.”
MR: Right, we grow up with these dreams we think we can do things that we want to do –
STSE: Yeah, so that’s the issue. That’s the change that we need to happen. I think there needs to be a Renaissance throughout America, and I think it may start with art, but we are definitely in our own form of a modern Dark Ages, to be honest. And that’s also hurting art, too. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, there’s a lot of the same old, same old, fueled by corporate power heads. They’re just, again, kind of ruining things because they already understood how to make money and so they think that’s always going to be the only way, and that’s it, so they’re not trying to find new things, to be honest. When was the last time you were excited to go listen to Top 40 radio?
MR: Right. Yeah - not. Ever.
STSE: I think, no one! No one. There’s nothing inspiring. Even the movies are so turnkey.
MR: It’s not art.
STSE: That’s not art. And so that’s hurting us. And again, it’s the idea of these older people – I have nothing against, you know – what is that, I don’t know what you call it –
MR: I mean, we gotta respect our elders –
STSE: I have nothing against that. I love learning from the older people. But at the same token, we gotta know when to bow.
MR: Well and I think it’s just gotta be – whoever’s in power, whoever’s in charge – needs to be an accurate representation, a sampling of the population. It cannot just be all people of a certain age or older. It’s gotta be some of those – a few of those. But all people represented.
MR: Well. That’s kind of all I had to ask you. Do you have anything that you’d like to say? Or anything that you’d like to ask me?
STSE: I mean, who know fashion was going to get so deep?
MR: It’s very deep with me! I put a lot of concepts into my clothing.
STSE: See? That’s what I’m talking about. We need more art like that. Even with the concepts in the clothing like that. That’s why I love that you’re around. I go to a regular store and it’s just like, “Ugh, blah. I don’t like any of this.” I can’t just shop to shop. I have to be inspired. It’s not a money thing or anything like that. You need to make me feel like, “Oooh.” I don’t get that. But when I’m at Spacedust, I get “Oooh. Yes!”
MR: Yep, so that’s how I did it, that’s how I reached into your heart and grabbed ya.
STSE: Yes, in my soul. Anyways, thank you for having this and joining me up here at the top of my neighborhood.
MR: It’s so beautiful up here.
STSE: Good, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Cool!
MR: Thank you so much!
STSE: Of course, thank you so much!
LW: We end with Stevie Wonder. “You can feel it all over.”
MR: Oh my god it’s “Sir Duke!”