FLYER Q&A: Fayetteville designer plans Pride fashion cabaret tribute to Queen

Brandy Lee of Big Sister Studio (Courtesy photo)

Started in 2017 by Brandy Lee, Big Sister Studio is a fashion design and sewing studio that handcrafts one-of-a-kind clothing and home goods. Luckily for us, Brandy now calls Fayetteville home, and is adding to our vibrant fashion community. She’s also started creating one-of-a-kind fashion events to showcase local artists.

This Saturday, June 22 at The Medium in Springdale, Brandy will present Fashion Fit For (A) Queen: A Fashion Cabaret. This Pride event features models and fashion designers from around the region, and Magnifico, Austin’s premier Queen tribute band.

This killer show is set for 7:30 p.m., and general and VIP tickets are available now at

The show is highly recommended if you’re looking to get to know local models and designers in NWA, or if you’re looking to find somebody to love. (sorry, I’ll show myself out)

A portion of the proceeds will benefit NWA Equality.

I talked to Brandy about her studio and the new show, and here it goes…

Hi Brandy. Before we talk about the Fashion Fit For (A) Queen show, can you give us a brief history of Big Sister Studio?

I actually started Big Sister the year before we moved to Arkansas. I had just lost my five-year job at ZACH Theatre in Austin and wanted to see about making my own thing work. I have experience in alterations, weddings, costumes and some upholstery and I was getting more experience building custom clothing. It was mostly one-off projects, but while in Austin I did have the chance to dip my toe into creating a runway collection. When we moved to Fayetteville, I got an opportunity to do more of that.

To an outsider like me, the NWA Fashion scene had a swift rise, but I know that’s not the case. Where do the roots of NWA Fashion start for you?

It actually starts with NWA Fashion Week. About a week after we moved here, my husband Miletus told me about a conversation with Project Runway Designer Korto Momolu and NWA Fashion Week. My husband spent some time here in the 90’s and knew Robin Wallis Atkinson. I was very hesitant at first but I went and was so impressed. After the talk, Robin encouraged me to apply to be a designer for the Spring 2019 showcase. I applied, got accepted, had a great show and really enjoyed the work, so I continued.

Big Sister Studio specializes in new, upcycled and vintage fashion. Is there a design or fashion line that could summarize what you do, especially to someone who doesn’t know a lot about fashion?

It’s far away from my own brand morals, but Urban Outfitters’ Urban Renewal might be the closest comparison to what I do.

Magnifico (Courtesy photo)

Fashion Fit For (A) Queen is coming up soon. Tell us about the show. How long have you been working on it, and what can we expect?

If you can imagine a rock concert, a fashion show and a musical all mashed up together, that’s what we’re doing. We’re bringing a live band in from Austin, and we have designers, models and dancers all contributing to the performance. It’s going to be super campy with a touch of glitter and loads of fun! This is a love letter to Freddie and his legacy. I like to think he would like what I’ve created.

I have been whirling this show around in my head since November of 2023. In September of 2023, I was notified that I received the Platform Grant from the Cache Exchange Fund provided by the Tyson Family Foundation. It has been non-stop since.

How long have you been working with The Medium in Springdale?

This is my second time working with The Medium. I absolutely love the team over at Cache. Their motto is “A place to create” and I feel that every time I go over there. The space over there is so versatile and the staff incredibly supportive of the artist and community that comes through those doors. They are working so hard to provide a great space to create art of all kinds. Only great things to say about working with The Medium.

What’s your favorite Queen song that’s featured in the show? What are your favorites that won’t be included?

Hmm. Man, I have so many favorites, that’s why I created the show. Based on the song alone, it’s a close tie between “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Somebody to Love.” From the fashion perspective, I’m excited for “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” or “Millionaires Waltz.” The one song that I really wish we could have put into the show is “Another One Bites the Dust.” It’s a hit so I was bummed when we couldn’t make it work.

Your show sponsors read like a Fayetteville “Best Of” list. What support did they provide? And what do Maxine’s, Cheap Thrills and Block Street Records mean to you?

They are the heart of the show in some respects. All of our sponsors gave a monetary donation, but more than that these people support me as an artist on a regular basis. They use my services, they share my content, they refer me to others and as a resident of Fayetteville, I do the same for them. From my end, I see these businesses as friends.

Adam Putman at Forge Productions is becoming the go-to for fashion show production. How has it been working with him?

Adam and Justin and the team at Forge are the go-to in production for a reason. They are professional, talented and easy to work with. I am so so grateful to have them doing sound and lighting. When you’re doing Queen, I don’t think you can have just any old sound and light system. You need the best.

What are your Summer plans with Big Sister Studio and personally?

After this I’ll be taking a design hiatus for sure. I do already have alterations and a few commissions lined up and I will always be taking alterations when I’m available. I do have my next project in my sights but it will depend on a few things falling into place. Personally, I can’t wait to celebrate Pride. Get into some river water, relax and clean my shop.

What’s your advice to emerging designers in NWA? How can they become more involved?

I think if you’re brand new, Interform is a great place to start. As a new designer, they do offer support that is helpful for someone just getting started. As a designer that already has some footing and they’re looking to create their own vision, just go for it. Apply for grants, be open to different venues and spaces, tap your friends for help, save up, do whatever you have to make it happen. You hear it all the time, but if I can do it, anyone can.

What can NWA do better to support Fashion designers and show producers?

For fashion designers and makers, the best thing you can do is buy something and wear it. Buy it because you love it. If you can’t afford to buy something, post and share their work. It goes a long way. For show producers, the biggest hurdle is space. So if you’re someone that has a space or control over a space, taking a chance and giving folks a reasonable opportunity would be the best way to see more shows of all kinds here in NWA.