Stylist Karen Levitt talks to #Paumé Journal about her Numéro NL cover shoot with Drag Race Superstar Gottmik and the Kellogg's Pride Cereal Advertising Campaign

Posted by Paumé Los Angeles on

Paumé: Do you have 5 minutes?

Karen: Absolutely!

Paumé: Do you have a favorite Paumé Piece at the moment? Your #PauméPick?

Karen: All the Lanvin Jewelry, especially the Lanvin Dedale Art Deco necklaces & chokers, the Boudicca Black “Trash Bag” blouse, and the green Prada turban.


Paumé: How would you describe Paumé in a few words?  

Karen: Rare, chic fashion gems with a twist! 

Paumé: Favorite Ice cream flavor? 

Karen: I love the salted caramel vegan ice cream at Cocobella Creamery in Hollywood. 

Paumé: What’s your song du jour?

Karen: "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" by X-Ray Spex

Paumé: Tell us something unexpected about you!

Karen: I love going through the car wash! I live in LA, but I don’t drive. I plan to start an IG page called 'I Am The Passenger' showing all the photos I take from the front seat.

Paumé: Which 3 people would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?

Karen: Oh wow, three is HARD as I like big dinners. I would say Pam Hog, Michaela Coel, Amy Taylor of Amyl and The Sniffers, Debi Mazar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Jones.

Paumé: What is your current favorite thing to wear that you can’t live without?

Karen: Hands down, the  Norma Kamali Turtle Cargo Jumpsuit. I have several in different fabrics & colors and I need more!  

Paumé: Who is your style icon?

Karen: Elektra Abundance - Evangelista (thank you costume designers Lou Eyrich and Analucia McGorty for your genius work on POSE!)

Paumé: Hippie or Punk?  

Karen: Punk, definitely Punk!

Paumé: What trend or fashion item should have NEVER existed?

Karen: The Scrunchie!

Paumé: Something you can not believe you used to wear?

Karen: I used to cut the crotch and feet off of black fishnets and wear upside down as a shirt! I still use that trick for styling but not on myself anymore. That “shirt” would be accessorized with “jewelry” all from the hardware store, hoop rings and hose clamps….I remember going to meet a photographer on Canal Street in that look to show him my book! I was pretty fearless in my 20’s...

Paumé: One word you use too much? 

Karen: Yes.

Paumé: Favorite model of all time?

Karen: Iman and Kristen McMenamy.

Paumé: What is the last photo you took on your phone?

Karen: It’s a photo I took last night of my cactus thats blooming with these amazing huge white flowers. They only open at night so I have to go out there after 11pm to get pictures of them in full bloom. It’s so cool!  

Paumé: Christmas or Thanksgiving?

Karen: Christmas…I’m Jewish so we didn’t celebrate Christmas as kids, but my boyfriend’s family does, so now i’m really getting into it. We have a skinny black goth tree that I decorate with gold and silver ornaments and big safety pins, but this year I want to get a huge pink tree inspired by a shoot I just did with photographer Jamie Nelson.

Paumé: What fashion piece from your past do you wish you still could wear?

Karen: I used to have all these cute Betsey Johnson dresses in the early 90’s, no idea where they went to! I also had some amazing vintage bathing suits that i would wear with fishnets and gogo boots to The Limelight. 

Paumé: What is something that you have lost and wish you could find?

Karen: My Depeche Mode T-shirt from 9th grade.

Paumé: Coffee or Tea?

Karen: Coffee in the morning and afternoon tea with friends is the best, especially at Paumé HQ. 

Paumé: What actor would play you in a movie?

Karen: I really think it’s a toss up between Gaga and Janeane Garofalo.

Paumé: Who is your favorite drag queen?

Karen: Oh you know i can’t play favorites with those girls! (Gottmik, Violet Chachki, Trixie) 

Paumé: What do wear in bed?

Karen: Band Tees. 

Paumé: Your biggest fashion splurge?

Karen: Going to concerts. I spend a lot on seeing shows but it inspires my work and is always a good fashion show so that's a fashion splurge!

Paumé: What’s your secret accessory weapon? Something that makes you feel good or always looks good on you!

Karen: MAC Lady Danger, lipstick is an accessory, right?

Paumé: Are you a morning person or a night owl? 

Karen: Both, as a result i don’t sleep much...

Paumé: What was the inspiration behind the Gottmik Numéro shoot?

Karen: Jack (Waterlot - the photographer) sent the team a mood board with lots of images of Vintage Issey Miyake ads. It was about dramatic lighting and these very geometric poses. So I went for pieces that could make interesting silhouettes in that lighting and bring drama.

Paumé: Special thanks to? The one thing, designer piece, person that made the shoot?

Karen: Special thanks to Marco Marco who made an amazing custom piece for the shoot.  An incredible exaggerated geometric sheer black jumpsuit that would make Grace Jones and Klaus Nomi wrestle for it! I loved every look on this shoot but a fav was the incredible sheer white trench dress by 'On Aura Tout Vu' and the black Chanel resin breastplate from Paumé! Also Tracy Moyer's wigs were incredible and made each look stunning!

Paumé: What’s your favorite part of a shoot?

Karen: Looking at the monitor on set with your team and seeing everyones hard work, vision and talent come together to make amazing imagery!


Paumé: What was the inspiration behind the Gottmik Kellogg’s Pride cereal shoot?

Karen: Our director Sam Jones had a "Fuck The Patriarchy" vision of a look that was kind of like a reinvented futuristic Lucille Ball. She sent me a bunch of images as direction and I knew right away this would have to be a custom design. I immediately called Marco Marco who has worked on a lot of custom pieces with me and with Gottmik too. I knew he would nail it! Everything about the look had elements of vintage and future and I pulled a lot of inspiration from a vintage Oscar De La Renta piece thats my Mom's and then we twisted it with big futuristic pointed sleeves and a big modern skirt.


Paumé: Any backstage stories to tell? Something funny happened? Unexpected? A lucky coincidence?

Karen: I put these huge safety pins going up the sleeves and everyone really flipped for them. At one point they actually asked the art department to move the cereal box over so they could see the sleeve better in the shot! To move the product over for a clearer view of fashion rarely happens on non-fashion commercials so that was definitely unexpected!

Paumé: Special thanks to? The one thing, designer piece, person that made the shoot?

Karen: Well, Marco Marco of course, plus amazing jewelry from Paumé Los Angeles and The Residency Experience. Gottmik loved all the jewelry so we poured it on! I loved mixing tons of vintage inspired and modern jewelry together. Especially Paumé’s vintage pearl and rhinestone vintage 1960's Christian Dior bracelet and the huge Eddie Borgo exaggerated cone bracelet. I loved a mixed message when it comes to accessories!

Paumé: What made working with Gottmik so special?

Karen: Gottmik is such a talent and a groundbreaking visionary. Every creative choice is meticulously thought out and right on point. 

Paumé: Describe Gottmik in one word.

Karen: Innovator.

Paumé: Who - dead or alive - would you want to work with that you haven’t worked with before?

Karen: Steven Meisel.

Paumé: One word you use on set a lot.


Paumé: If you were not a stylist what would you be?

Karen: Bored.

Paumé: What advice would you give aspiring stylists about the creative process? 

Karen: To look at everything for its potential, not just what it is in front of you, but what it could be. 

Paumé: What’s next for you?

Karen: Film and TV,  hopefully a script with big fashion moments so I can really create something memorable. BY THE WAY, that did not take 5 minutes but you are worth the over time!!

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