Rock Steady

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Brooke Atwood calls her own shots. 

Dressed in head-to-toe black, her face framed by blunt-cut bangs and long ombré layers, Brooke Atwood exudes a rock-chick vibe with extraordinary ease, which makes sense when she tells you she’s been honing her look since junior high. At 12 years old and living in Kosciusko, Mississippi, she began to shun color (red was and still is her only exception), wear quirky top hats and listen to The Smithereens. “I never wanted to do what anyone else was doing,” says Atwood. “I was always trying to have my own thing.”

Brooke Atwood the brand is a true reflection of Brooke Atwood the person: unchanging to the whims of fashion, steadfast in ethos, and, well, pretty damn cool. In 2012, two years after receiving her MA in fashion design from Savannah College of Art and Design, she launched her first collection from her Ardsley Park bungalow. Building from the idea of what she wanted to wear, her anchor piece was a black leather tee, cut with a simple crew neck and perforated sleeves.

I’m finally dancing to the beat of my own drum, which makes me feel so much more creative.

Now, eight years later, Atwood works from a studio in that same Ardsley Park house, but at least once a month she hops a JetBlue flight to New York City, where she recently leased a design space in the Garment District. There, she’s within walking distance of the manufacturers who produce all of her pieces— including a version of that original black leather tee, now cut in a V-neck and embellished with patches.

The top is available exclusively on Atwood’s website, where she has just begun selling directly to the consumer. “This whole time I’ve been focusing on wholesale,” Atwood says. “But I’m done with that—no more stores, no more publicists, no more seasons. I’m finally dancing to the beat of my own drum, which makes me feel so much more creative.” Atwood has also trimmed her collection size down to capsules—about eight pieces in each—which she plans to release every three months and market through social media.

The designer in her Ardsley Park home. Photo by Cedric Smith

To celebrate her new direction, Atwood is going back to her roots. While living in Oxford, Mississippi, where she attended Ole Miss and opened a children’s clothing boutique, she became “obsessed” with the blues. Thus her new capsule collection, named Mississippi Blues, is inspired by two of her favorite musicians, R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford. “These guys were rebels in their own era,” says Atwood with a laugh. “I’ve always thought of them as the original punk rockers, so that’s my vibe— blues meets punk.”

The collection features denim jackets embroidered with Burnside and Ford’s names and cotton T-shirts adorned with vintage blues photography. Atwood also made sure to include a leather motorcycle jacket. It comes in two colors: black or red.

“I’m the first to admit that I design for myself,” she says. “What can I say? I know what I like.”