Johnny (left) hard at work on one of Katy Perry’s dresses.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
We. Love. Johnny. Wujek. The man behind Katy Perry’s on and off stage ensembles never ceases to wow us with his whimsical sartorial creations-from the spinning peppermint bra to the light up Met Ball gown. With an upcoming television debut as an America’s Next Top Model creative consultant, and a major movie now in theaters (which, as you know, we LOVED), Wujek shows no signs of slowing any part of his career down. Did we mention his “Call Me Maybe” cover alongside his celebrity gal pal? Right. Killin’ it. We all know the Johnny Wujek creation story by now: Katy bounced over to him at a party, asked him which team he was playing for, “mine or his,” indicating a male friend, Wujek said, “his,” and a beautiful partnership was born. She asked to borrow a dress, he clothed a budding pop star, she fought for him when she got famous…the rest is history. So, who is the man behind the glitter and the whipped cream-shooting bra? We already showed you his favorite things, now it’s time to hear a little more from the man himself.
MTV STYLE: How did you get Katy’s costumes to light up?
Johnny Wujek: I know right?! Magic! The light up stuff’s just LED so she has a little power pack and it’s all programmed and she just hits a switch and that’s that.
When you’re designing things that light up or spin, do you have to think differently? Do you have an engineer hat you put on?
What I love about what I do and making costumes for someone like Katy is that I’m always learning. obviously LED’s and electronics and wiring-none of that’s my thing, so, you know, i work with people who are specialists in that department, so yeah, when designing something like that you definitely have to factor in a few extra things. It’s not just a normal little get up.
Is there anything you’ve wanted to do that you haven’t been able to pull off?
Hell No! There’s nothing we’ve tried to do that we haven’t been able to pull off.
What’s your biggest fashion fantasy for Katy?
I’m not giving away any of my ideas, but I love what we call “next level,” like how on tour her peppermints spun or things that are electronic and light up and the magic dress. I’m always looking to see how far we can push things and to do things we haven’t done.
Johnny holds up Katy’s famous spinning peppermints dress in a still from Katy Perry: Part of Me.
Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
When you hear a new song, are you immediately thinking about aesthetic concepts to go along with it?
Absolutely, all the time. When Katy plays a song for me or we listen to things together, and she does the same, like, literally the other day we heard this new song for her next album and I was like, oh my god I see the video, and she was like I see the video too, and we were totally on the same page. It’s always so inspiring. With music in general, even if it’s not her music, I always think of videos and I always think of costumes and I always think of the art direction of it all. Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s overwhelming.
How do you think of just getting dressed in the morning?
Me? I don’t. I don’t think about it, but it’s funny because I’m actually at my wit’s end. I live in this really old 1918 craftsman and my closets are literally the size of a back seat. I have so many frickin’ clothes that it almost turns out like whatever I can just grab and find easily is what I’ll wear. If I’m patient enough to dig I can find something amazing that I haven’t seen in awhile, but usually it turns out to be whatever’s right there. I did make an effort today with my outfit because it’s so hot here [in Los Angeles], though. I cut some new shorts, found a new tank top-I’m very relaxed when it comes to fashion. I always want to dress fancier than I do, but I’m very relaxed. Everyone always sees me and they’re like you’re Katy Perry’s stylist? I’m such a normal random dude, but I always have glitter on me. Everyone’s like “you have glitter on you,” and I’m just like, “if I had a dollar for every time I heard that.”
Do you have any tricks for getting glitter off?
No. Patience. Tape, a lint brush, but no. I just usually deal with it.
Do you have a specific set of concerns that you always have to address when you’re styling Katy?
Oh yeah. There’s definitely a base list of things that have to always be there. As far as comfort, it has to be something that she can move in. For Support, it has to be something that supports her bust because she has a large bust, and there are certain lines, like how much ass is covered, little things. So definitely comfort, movement and support.
Katy doesn’t wear fur, right? Do you feel like making those decisions is important?
To each his own. I would wear fur, but I think it’s a lot harder for people in the spotlight because they get a lot of backlash, and I feel like fur has always been scandalous-people running around throwing paint on you and such. Katy’s always been such an animal lover, though. She’s always believed it, since I met her, and it’s always been a thing. Literally, there will be these amazing dresses with a tiny bit of fur that doesn’t come off, and she wont wear them. Sometimes I’ll try and trick her, be like “no, that’s fake!” But she’ll just say “Gucci does not use fake fur,” and I’ll habe to say “fine.”
Do you feel like you have an aesthetic and a mythology that you’re now creating for yourself in your own right?
Since I moved to LA 13 years ago from Michigan, without any clue what I was going to do, and falling into this and meeting Katy and being part of her explosion and her massive reach, yes definitely. In the beginning I was just like, oh my god, everyone in the world is seeing this dress that I made, or this dress I put on her, I have power, I can get my ideas out there too. People say that I inspire them, and that they want to do what I do, and it’s amazing. Social media makes me much more aware of that. And now with Katy, it’s just exploded. At the premiere, Access Hollywood wanted to interview me, and called me “one of the stars of Katy Perry: Part of Me” and I just thought, that’s silly! Top Model is a whole new adventure for me where I have a trailer and my rider, it’s cool. The last year has been about branding myself. Katy’s so great with that because she’s such a badass business woman. I’m not, I’m more of a creative and she’s just so savvy at business. Her managers and agents and everyone look out for me. I’m pretty lucky.
Do you have any advice that you would give to kids who are looking to do what you’re doing?
Go for it. I think a lot of people just doubt, and you don’t get anywhere unless you just go for it. When I moved to Los Angeles I didn’t even think twice, and I wasn’t sure and I just came out here and just went after what i wanted. From experience I see that it’s possible. Whether it be school, or assisting, or really just getting your foot in any way you can, if you got it, you got it, and if you don’t, try something else.
Do you have plans to do a line of your own?
Oh definitely. I’ve been approached numerous times, and I dabbled in shoes for a minute. It was such a great experience. Absolutely. I’ve always dreamed of doing a line. I don’t know if it would be Johnny Wujek or if it would be for someone or something but i definitely, definitely imagine a collection of stuff that i designed. It could be sunglasses, or tank tops, or a full line.
It’s come up more than once in the MTV Style office.
I always think about it. I’m so passionate about costumes. I could throw away the red carpet stuff, and I could throw away the appearances and blah blah blah. I’m so passionate about the performance stuff. I love making costumes and I love the stage and the sparkle and everything about that. I sometimes think, how could I translate that into something? I dont know if there’s a market for performance costumes. ’Johnny Wujek for Macy’s: Full Performance Costumes’ [laughs].
I dunno, girls are getting braver these days.
Johnny Wujek: The Next Bob Mackie.
That would be sick. For sure.