- How did you get in touch with Madonna and her staff ? First did you imagine that it was joke ?
Yes, I was floored by that. I had launched our collection in 2012 and was struggling to get it in stores and get myself out there. I was working two jobs plus running the company and production studio at the same time. One day when I was at my lowest point, someone posted a picture of M wearing our gloves on my Facebook wall. “Is that Madonna in your gloves?” Yes, I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t! It was her looking gorgeous on the red carpet at her new Hard Candy Gym Opening in Berlin. Somehow she had got two pairs of our Armor gloves from “Shop Untitled” in NYC, and that was the beginning of this wild crazy story. She continued to wear our Armor Gloves at various events after. She had two pairs a Black Leather gloves, one with Gold knuckle plates and one with Silver.
Eventually a year later I was contacted by one of her stylists B Akerlund and I inquired how the gloves were holding up, letting her know that I loved M and wanted to make replacements if they were getting too much wear. She invited me to collaborate on custom Birthday gloves for her 56th Birthday that Akerlund would be attending in person. At that time I had two weeks to do a custom project. We RACED around the clock and produced two pairs of BDAY gloves for her, similar to the Armor Gloves she owned. However, we used a custom font created by a dear friend and legendary Graffiti Artist named Pressone. Using the font, we carved out her initials MDNA MDNA in the armor on the knuckles using lasers and then hand carving the letters out. On the side plates we had to select something to write down them. I remember at this point there were a few pics that M had posted to her Instagram wearing our gloves. I had a moment that struck me from one of her posts of a solitary neon sunset and a simple hash tag, #rebelheart. At that point I had no idea her 13th album was in the works or the name of it. I’ve always felt like a rebel at heart, and feel like her and I shared this in common, so I selected this to write down the side plates. One pair was made in Silver and one pair in 18kt white gold with hand selected 56 Black Diamonds to stud on the corners and down the side plates for her 56th birthday. After, we shipped the gloves and watched them fly across the world to the south of France, they were received by B Akerlund who personally hand gifted them to M on her birthday in Cannes. It would be months and months before we would finally see anything of the birthday gifts. We had a major surprise in store when her final album artwork was released for Rebel Heart’s Super Deluxe Version with a photo by Mert & Marcus of M wearing the birthday gloves on the cover.
When we sent the gloves I had no idea the name of the album would be Rebel Heart, nor a song title of the new album. It was a synchronistic moment and I hoped so much that she would feel my love from her gifts we sent. I even wrote a sent a letter that said, “Happy Birthday, Rock on Rebel Heart.” Crazy, huh? I would eventually end up meeting Madonna herself when I was in NYC to drop off the costumes for the Living for Love video, B texted me and told me to get in a car downstairs, I had no idea where I was going. I was taken to a private rehearsal space in Brooklyn and that night I would end up being introduced to Madonna herself via B Akerlund. It was a magic moment for me for sure. I had no idea from the start of Majesty Black and all the struggle that I had this in store for me and our future. I’m blessed and in aww of how things have turned out for me and am very happy to have found a muse in Madonna, I truly adore and always have.
- Did you have a direct contact with Madonna? The legend says that she controls everything. Did she say exactly what she wanted ?
In November, before the album was leaked, we finally had a moment of being contacted by M herself via her personal assistant to inquire about custom gloves. We were working on an order together and going back and forth when that dreadful day happened that the album leaked online. It was a horrible event for everyone involved and we felt so strongly about people mocking M’s crushed moments about this. I’m an artist and I know how difficult it is to put yourself out there for people to critique and judge something that is innately from your heart and intrinsically part of you and your offering to the world. It is not easy to channel this or to hold a light in the world, especially a fucked up one like the one we are living in. She wasn’t ready to release those unfinished tracks yet and to have her unfinished work put out there like that created a storm for everyone… one that would end well. I have so much respect for M and her team with how quickly they reacted and worked overtime with no sleep for months to move the albums release to a 6month early pre-release.
What happens when a track leaks? You must make a music video immediately and put it out there. Look what happened with Beyonce, she shot a video in a hotel room and busted it out. What would M do? In a jiffy she would create the first video for the hit new single track, “Living for Love” alongside the talented stylist and costume designer B Akerlund and us. Not just any video, but a video and song that would be regarded as her best work in the last decade. She is a super human in my book and gracefully rose to this challenge and TURNED IT OUT. She blows me away, really. B Akerlund, knowing that I’m not just a glove designer (I can make anything) contacted us to help with costuming for the video and we created custom matador pant suits, suspenders and gloves for the Video. Those looks would continue to be used again at the Grammy’s.
I’m extremely honored to work with B. I’m so lucky, even though I’m not in touch with M directly at this moment, to create amazing things in hopes of dressing her up with my love as I continue to make new collections. We will be in touch again I’m sure. I just made another huge collection of new glove styles and I’m dying to send her things as the Queen gets first pick. ;)
- For example for the pants that the dancers wear for the BRITS, how long does it take to create this ? What are the raw materials ?
- You should be very proud when you see your creation when you watch the TV no ? What do you feel ?
Well I’m on an island 9000 miles away from America with no real TV so I must wait to see it online. It’s always so hard to wait. I remember going to sleep the night of the British Awards feeling so excited to wake up and see the performance the next day. Waking up to the news that she had been pulled off the stage by the cape was crushing. I watched the show online when it became available and we all ended up clapping and cheering as she got back up showed them how a real queen does it. I loved the show, especially the addition of Aya Bambi dancers. I was upset when people made fun of someone displaying such great showmanship, professionalism & talent. Only a seasoned performer could recover from that “bump” in the show. I think people expect famous people to be superhuman and rarely are they ever… but Madonna is. My heart went out to her for days, I was feeling her but I knew she would get back up and channel that emotion into an even bigger fire for the album and it’s promotion… just as she did. And many Madonna fans that have drifted away came right back front and center after hearing of the fall. The whole moment became a great thing for the album in my opinion, as no one could talk about anything else after the Brit Awards. She will always steal the show.
- Madonna is a big fan of gloves, why your loves are so specials ? What do you think when you design a pair of gloves for Madonna ?
Our gloves have hand-forged metals that resemble armor, and other metal components locking them in to place. There are many people and hands involved with making a pair of gloves. We don’t just glue stuff on our collection, everything has been engineered to stay and be comfortable to wear. It’s taken me years of patterning the human hand, (which is super hard btw) to create what I do.
I like to call my collection ‘Fashion as a Weapon’. When I was a young child I grew up in an emotionally destructive and violent household. I was so obviously abused. I remember that in school in 2nd grade we were asked to all draw ourselves as animals or characters. After we completed the assignment we were asked to stand up and explain to the class why and what we drew. I drew a crazy spiked and studded dinosaur, with metal armor all over it. When asked why I chose this I responded, “So no one could ever hurt me anymore.” I’ve done the work to become a better person and transform myself into the person I am today, and still work on this daily. But a bit of this is still inside me, and has found it’s way into my art form of design. This is the place where I put all of that stuff. What I make is very dear to my heart. This is my artistic expression or one of it. Is there an abused child in my pieces? NO. There is a rock star there who has risen as a phoenix from the ashes and transformed himself through art. When you wear Majesty Black you feel empowered, strong, bold and sexy. Just try something on we make. You will feel super badass, like a sexy superhero, and “you” are. It helps sometimes wearing something that can remind you of this. I think this is why my gloves truly are so special, ahem, besides all the work that goes into making them.
- Did you work with the stakeholders of the project ? For the example the fashion designer for Madonna’s outfit ? To create a sort of homogeneity ?
B worked with many other great artists to create the full look for the Living for Love video, Grammys and Brit Awards. House of Malakai & Majesty Black made the dancers costumes and gloves. The Blonds, who made the beaded corset in the video. Lynn Ban Jewelry was featured. The super talented horn maker, Cecelio designs based out of Spain created the horn head pieces. Also Marina Hurnington who created the crystal masks. And of course Ricardo Tisci, Shady Zeineldin, Armani, and many more. All this was pulled together and executed by B Akerlunds talented hands and creative eye. She is truly amazing.
- You have worked with many other celebrites, is it stressfull ?
Yes, and I hope to work with more directly as time goes on. It’s very stressful, rewarding and challenging. It really gets me inspired and reminds me of why I make what I do. I enjoy every moment of it, despite the intense deadlines.
- What are you next projects ?
Well we just returned from showing our latest AW15 Collection of gloves at Paris Fashion week and next we working on editorials, orders and developing the next Spring Summer collection. Many more surprises in store though…. Lets just say we are very excited about the release of her new Ghosttown Music video shot by Jonas Akerlund and styled by B Akerlund, coming out in April sometime. ;)
- Any word for our readers ?
Be who you are. Accept yourself for your deepest hardships and love yourself for them, find strength in that. Don’t be afraid to be different that’s what makes you special.
Un grand merci à Joshua pour avoir pris le temps de répondre à nos questions. N'hésitez pas à découvrir son univers sur son site : Majesty Black et les réseaux sociaux !