Cities in Dust designer Meghan Lorenz came by her love for fashion honestly. She left Chicago for Los Angeles after high school, where she spent her time working for Fred Segal and aspiring to work as a set designer in L.A.’s film industry. With ideas fueled by the L.A. fashion scene, Meghan returned home to attend Columbia College and pursue a degree in Fashion Business. She added visual merchandising and window display art to her resume and portfolio, and also worked for Chicago designers Kelly Whitesell and Elizabeth Del Castillo of Eskell. These experiences led her to the realization that she wanted to create for herself. Finding it difficult to locate the kind of jewelry she’d want to wear, Meghan set out to fill a sartorial void. In 2010, Cities in Dust was born, and has gained a loyal following both in and outside of Chicago. In addition to maintaining her own online store, Meghan also wholesales to others. Her inventory is constantly being refreshed with new, inspired pieces, and all of her collections are an evolving look at Meghan’s unique, wearable aesthetic.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Meghan Lorenz, I’m the owner and designer of the brand Cities in Dust jewelry. I produce all of my work out of my west loop studio in Chicago. I’m currently a one woman show seeking part time help. I work with about 14 small boutiques across the country, sell online, and occasionally work with larger accounts such as Urban Outfitters. I’ve spent the past couple years doing a lot of weekend events and street festivals, but plan to spend fall focusing more on building new wholesale accounts.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m currently working on two projects with Chicago artists that I really admire! I’m very excited about both of these collaborations. Info on these artists is TBA. I’m also just a little over a month away from releasing my FW14 collection, and shooting my new lookbook. With fashion week, market week, and the change of season, fall is always a very exciting time for fashion!
How did your interest in fashion begin? Honestly, my love for fashion all started with the movie Clueless. I saw it in theaters ten times. It changed the way I dressed, it changed the way I spoke, and even influenced where I wanted to be geographically. I was in sixth grade, my first year of middle school, and extremely impressionable! Art on the other hand was just the way I grew up. I come from a very large family, with a big appreciation for art. Making art, and learning about art was something that was always supported by my family.
#1 fashion don’t? Crocs with socks? I don’t have many feelings on the do’s and don’ts of fashion. I don’t like when Northface jackets are worn as something fashionable, but other than that, I try to keep an open mind, as it’s an important part of individual expression…although a lot of people are not even phased by personal style.
How would you explain your work to a stranger? Explaining my work to a stranger…old world feeling, bronze, cast jewelry, with thoughtful pops of color.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops. My work is mostly cast from bronze or silver. I work with gold for custom orders only. I incorporate color into every collection and love working with onyx, jasper, quartz, turquoise and howlite. My process starts by researching new trends, developing a mood board, dreaming a concept, and playing with waxes.
What designers are you interested in right now? Right now I’m really into fashion designers Celine, Chloe, Marni, Rachel Comey, and Isa Arfen. I’m really inspired by interior and object design by Kelly Wearsteler. Lindsey Adelman is also pretty amazing. Her work constantly inspires me.
What’s your favorite thing about your city? My favorite part about Chicago, aside from the amazing quality of life we can maintain here, is that I can be in a really stimulating place and be close to my family. They live just outside the city. I feel really lucky for that.
What are your thoughts about the fashion scene in Chicago? My thoughts on the Chicago fashion scene…I try and stay positive. My first city was LA and I felt it had such a fun and vibrant and interesting fashion scene. There was a major emphasis on designer fashion, and some of the most amazing vintage I’ve even seen. Moving back to Chicago was a bit of a challenge for me, but I think people are getting more and more into it, and I also feel lucky because I continue to meet really inspiring and interesting people here in the community, which keeps it stimulating.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? I try to always have fuji apples, pumpkin seeds and La Croix…Jimmy John’s is my guilty pleasure. Veggie sandwich with chips. I probably order that for delivery more than I should. I’m not great about keeping snacks in the studio.
If you hadn’t become a designer what do you think you’d be doing? Had I not become a jewelry designer I would likely be working as a visual merchandiser or stylist. These are two positions I was very passionate about and involved with before I started my line.
What are you listening to right now? Right now, as of this second, I’m listening to The Knife radio on Pandora. Easy listening.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? The best reaction I’ve every had about my work was when a group of girls came by my table at Dose Market. They were in middle school and spent their babysitting money on some earrings, which they were very excited about. It was so adorable and heartwarming. I have fond memories of that time in my life, and the women who inspired and influenced me at that age. I was really proud to have been an inspiration to these girls.