Q&A: Accessories Designer Stevie Boi on His Off-the-Wall Aesthetic

Jenny Rogers

The youngest member of a military family who took college classes at night while still in high school, Stevie Boi never planned for a future in fashion. In fact, the 26-year-old eyewear and accessories designer-who will open Fashion Week Columbus' Finale Show on Oct. 10-originally studied criminal justice. But a rebellious streak led him to a world in which he seemed destined to thrive.

"I skipped school and went to New York City-who does that?" he recalls with a laugh. "That's what changed my life. That's how I met people like Richie Rich, Amanda Lepore and Lady Gaga-before she was famous. I was going through some personal issues-I didn't yet understand my sexuality-and I was trying to figure out what to do."

As he explored New York's nightlife scene, Stevie Boi began designing off-the-wall ensembles to wear to the clubs. And, in 2009, he decided the educational path he was on wasn't for him and began to dabble in fashion more seriously. "I was already making these crazy outfits for the clubs, and people would come up to me and ask, 'Who the hell are you, and why are you dressed this way?' " Stevie's take? Why not?

Why eyewear?

Honestly, I'm lazy as hell [laughing]. I don't have time to sit down and sew, and it's not my forte. The whole point of my brand-and my life-is confidence and fearlessness. That's my attitude and that's the attitude of my business; I want to bring out someone's confidence.

What was your big break-when Lady Gaga wore your work?

She wasn't famous yet; she was just this girl half naked in the club. Of course, she had all these record deals but nobody knew. Eva Pigford, who was on "America's Next Top Model," was the first celebrity to wear my glasses; she wore them on the cover of a fashion magazine, Obvious. That was my big break. That's what made me realize that I had to move forward with all this.

Who's the celeb you'd most like to style?

I've worked with everyone … Elton John, Madonna, Beyoncé, Kesha … but Grace Jones is the No. 1 person I've always wanted to work with.

When designing eyewear, what's most important?

I rarely make the same piece over again; I prefer to make sure everyone feels special, that they have something no one else does.

What can people expect from your Fashion Week Columbus collection?

I have a million and 13 things I'm planning right now. I want to leave it for surprise, but I'll have an all-white collection that'll be a little futuristic.

Your eyewear is pretty out there-in a good way. Any styling advice?

Live vicariously through your eyewear. My glasses are the outfit. Sometimes my designs are too much for some people, but I can only be so basic!