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The story goes like this: a young, relatively unknown pop star named Kesha contacted Kate Thompson after seeing her surrealistic, wildly imaginative designs—which had graced several aerialist stage performances—and boldly stated, "I don't have money now, but I will make it. And when I do, I will repay you ten times. Would you make me one of your headdresses?" Kate agreed, Kesha's single Tik Tok went platinum, and the two developed a friendship and working relationship that resulted in some seriously gorgeous headpieces and jewelry.
Building on the success of her work for Kesha and deciding to branch off on her own from LA line Fauxtale (which she shared at the time with designer Toree Arntz), Kate started Amaroq, a whimsical, vividly constructed, playful collection of headdresses and accessories made from animal bones, feathers, quills, crystals, and other natural elements.
While the pieces are definitely music video-ready, they're also the perfect way to bring mystical energy to any ensemble, and you'll find Amaroq designs paired with woodland wedding gowns and upscale editorial evening looks. We caught up with Kate to ask her a little more about her LA inspirations and to find out what makes her creative mind tick.
How did you get started designing these amazing headpieces?
I started creating headpieces when I was 20 for a Los Angeles based cirque show by the name of Lucent Dossier. I went to school for 3D design and was always creating or building bizarre art installations, and a few of my friends who performed with the troupe connected me with their costumers. They gave me all the tools and let me figure it out for myself. It was there that I realized wearable art was going to be my path.
What goes into selecting the materials that you use?
Sustainability and my current surroundings. Any animal products I use are collected humanely and naturally; the feathers and quills are naturally molted, and a lot of the bones are found and cleaned by myself (gross, I know). Whenever I have time to spare, I try to submerge myself in nature. I collect and dry different flowers and plants, drift wood, feathers, weird stones, anything I can get my hands on. Whenever I have time or am needed, I volunteer at the Wildlife Waystation, one of the oldest animal sanctuaries on the west coast, and collect all sorts of feathers and quills and wonderful things. I guess my materials are directly effected by my surroundings... what is available to me at the time. It makes each piece even more unique.
Any favorite music you put on when creating?
I love Fever Ray and Purity Ring... that kind of dark, wild sorceress vibe. But honestly I am a huge nature documentary nerd. Come into my studio and most likely Planet Earth is on in the background as David Attenborough educates me on the migration patterns of the wildebeest. Or the tribes of Papua New Guinea and their many species of birds of paradise. Those people know how to make headpieces.
Where do you love to go in or around LA to feel inspired?
The Wildlife Waystation is my sanctuary, even though it is supposed to be a sanctuary for animals. It’s the only place where my mind can relax and all the distractions of the busy world turn off. Topanga Canyon is my other escape, especially after a good rain storm. I can get lost on the green, meandering trails and completely forget the city and all of its noise.
How can urbanites stay connected to nature while living in LA?
Hiking! There are so many amazing trails to explore up in the hills, and it's good for your mind and body. I just learned about all the hidden steps in Beachwood Canyon, and found a secret path into Lake Hollywood, and I’ve lived here for a decade! You just have to be willing to take a different path once in awhile. Also, get involved with conservation or rescue programs. Whether it’s Heal the Bay or an animal shelter, there are so many amazing organizations that are fighting to help keep the balance between this ever-growing city and the natural world. It's so important to be aware of the effects that our actions have on the environment. Living in a city, you see the worst of what mankind is doing to nature. That compels me to use my spare time to make a difference through volunteer programs, so I can reconnect with and restore nature simultaneously. And in return, she gives me endless inspiration.