Finding His Fit

Lucas O’Brien ’18 channels his eye for design and love of literature into a fashion career.

By Mary Keister
Date

Lucas O’Brien ’18 fell in love with Kenyon’s theater community at first sight. “When I was touring as a prospective student, I went to see the production of ‘Arabian Nights’ with my dad,” O’Brien said. “I was so enthralled with how tight the cast was, and the intimate nature of Kenyon theater.”

O’Brien, a drama major, “lived and breathed theater” over the next four years, creating costumes for mainstage productions and collaborating with faculty on production design. He spent summers in New York City interning with theater companies; one summer, he worked with Tony Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell on “Hamilton” after being connected by Paul’s brother, Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama Jonathan Tazewell ’84.

After graduation, O’Brien channeled his love of costume design into his current roles as fashion closet manager and stylist assistant at Vogue magazine. He prepares and organizes clothing sent from designers and helps ensure the items are in place for the magazine’s many photo shoots. He frequently goes on set to help curate looks on models and celebrities, and he provides styling support to the magazine’s fashion editors. 

An editor on a recent shoot, in search of inspiration for the set’s scenery, asked O’Brien to examine texts representing different fashion eras. “So I looked at Dickens,” he said, “and other different classics to see how costume and dress were described. That’s a practice I picked up at Kenyon. The literary work is everywhere. Even if it’s a visual picture that we’re creating, we’re not just looking at pictures to pull references from; we’re looking at texts and poetry. The ability to pick up a text, analyze it not only for its literary worth but also for its visual aspects, transcended through my classes and makes my work have more depth.”