Tap open Instagram and there goes another photo of Chris Brown and Rihanna posting flicks together. Whether it’s snoozing in Bart Simpson paraphernalia or getting baked half-naked, the two lovers who sang “Nobody’s Business” spotlight their own romance better than the paparazzi.
The entire plot of their four year saga plays like a Shawty Lo reality show: too raw and uncut to turn off. Pan to the sideline though and you’ll find the unsuspecting victim: Karrueche Tran. The 5’1” biracial fashionista has become a crucial cast member of the Chrianna soap opera. Yet, she’s actually a private girl caught in a very public situation. But before you peg her as a damsel in distress, the last thing she wants is your pity. In an exclusive interview with VIBE, Karrueche recalls how she and Chris met, how her clothing “The Kill” made him her business partner and how she feels about her love life now.
VIBE: How did you come up with the concepts for your clothing line?
Karrueche Tran: Chris [Brown] wanted to do a female line for his men’s line [“Black Pyramid”]. So he asked me to take over and “The Kill” was gonna be a women’s only line but it’s actually unisex.
How long have you two been planning this?
It’s been a few months. When I first started, I pretty much thought of the name. Then from there, we started making very basic sample t-shirts, hats, beanies and socks. That’s what a lot of people saw online and on Instagram. They saw certain people wearing it, so it created this really big buzz in our very first stages. We got a little bit ahead of ourselves and we wanted to do this really awesome launch on 12/12/12, but we kinda had to slow it down ‘cause things weren’t 100% completely done. That’s why we waited.
How is the name “The Kill” representative of your life?
I was at home one day and this song “In For The Kill” by La Roux was stuck in my head, so “The Kill” stuck out to me.
Christina Milian and Chris have been seen wearing it. What kind of aesthetic are you trying to accomplish with the line?
Honestly, I’m not trying to pinpoint one group. When they see the line, I want people to feel like they can at least relate to it through one piece. It also depends on whether you’re into streetwear or high fashion.
When people first started hearing about you, you were labeled as “an aspiring model.” Are you still doing that now?
I never was an official model. I always tell people I’m not a model but I’ve done modeling. Now I’m signed with a commercial agency, so hopefully that is going to pick up but before I was just doing favors for friends who needed somebody for their lookbook.
When you took over Chris’ women’s line, was that how you guys met?
Definitely not. Him asking me to do the line was recent. We met a couple years ago.
Were you styling him at the time?
I actually happened to do a random styling job out here in L.A. and that’s how we met.
Did you anticipate that your relationship would blow up into what it is now?
I didn’t expect it at all. We were friends for a while before we started dating.
Since Chris has his own lines, what advice has he given you in terms of being the creative director for “The Kill?”
(Laughs) He hasn’t really given me advice. He completely trusts me with this line. He’s seen my designs and he loves everything so far. He definitely has my back and pushes us forward as well.
Like I mentioned before, Christina Milian has also been rocking your line. You guys seem like besties. How did you two become friends?
We crossed paths tons of times and then one time, she was just like, “Hey, how are you? Let’s exchange numbers.” Ever since then, we’ve been the best of friends. We’re just really cool. We don’t even talk about any craziness. We just have fun, have a glass of wine, and watch a movie.
Someone you’ve definitely been seen getting close to is Teyana Taylor.
(Karrueche bursts into laughter.)
Is she going to be potentially modeling “The Kill” as well?
Maybe, who knows? Teyana’s a really good friend of mine and she actually has a shoe coming out as well, so we might put something together.
Sidebar: how the heck did that New Year’s Eve kiss happen?
(Big laughs) Well, we counted down and I turned to her, said “Happy New Year” and gave her a kiss!
Good thing, too, ‘cause it went on Instagram like five times.
Yeah, it posted like five times ’cause it was at midnight and everyone was trying to tweet and Instagram at the same time so it was frozen. For some reason, I can’t delete ‘em. So I just left it there. (Laughs) Oh well. That explains our night.
It seems like you keep a really tight-knit group in your personal life. How has having that support group helped you deal with everything going on in your personal life, especially since Christina has sort of gone through a similar situation as well?
I keep it very small. I don’t really go around and tell my friends my business. I’m very personal. When I hang out with Christina, we don’t get into too much. We just kinda forget about all those negative things or whatever’s going on and just relax and have a good time. I really, really don’t tell my business when it comes to a lot, even though my business is public. The things I personally go through within myself, I tend to keep to myself. It just creates more of a drama.
But still you have thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram. How do you think people view you?
A lot of people are like, “Don’t go on your Twitter, don’t read the blogs.” I do read my Twitter a lot and I get a mixture of the positive people who are like, “I understand, I’ve been there before, stay strong,” and then there’s the negative people who are just always negative for no reason.
How do you feel about it? Are you happy with your love life at the current moment?
I mean at the time, but right now of course not. It’s a lot going on but it could be a lot worse. And that’s how I look at life. I take it for what it is. I move forward, grow from it and at this point, that’s what I’m doing. I’m not gonna sit and dwell and become consumed in that negativity because I could very much be that person, especially when things are so public and so thrown in my face. But like I said, things can be much worse. So I’m good.
Everything just gets misunderstood.
How hard is it to work with Chris with everything that’s going on?
At the end of the day, he will always be a friend. We’ll always care about each other. We won’t allow that to interfere. Our business is business.
Do you think you’ve found the person you could spend the rest of your life with?
I do care about him and I do love him. Family is very important to me, and I’ve always put it in my mind to remember that. For me, I’d love to meet somebody and grow and build a foundation, but I don’t want to even think about marriage right now. I can’t even get a clothing line out. (laughs)
It’s more like, “Let me get my shit together first.”
Yeah, and I want to focus and just work on the line and just…kill it.
I could tell you deal well with a lot of pain because of all your tattoos. Describe all the ones you have and what they mean.
My first tattoo is in Arabic. It goes down my spine and it says ‘an ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship.’ Now on my side, I have a Spanish proverb and it says, ‘A beautiful life does not just happen, it is built daily by prayer, sacrifice, humility and love. May that beautiful life be yours always.’
Wow. Where did you get that from?
I honestly just found it. I came across it and said that’s beautiful. I was going through my little tattoo phase so I got that, and I have the big ol’ zipper going down my leg.
You know there were leggings that were made so girls could have that without going through the needle and ink.
Haha, yeah I’ve seen those.
Chris is a trendsetter himself. Did you guys bond over fashion when you met?
Yeah, his style is him. It’s not other people throwing clothes on him. He definitely wears what he wants to wear and wears what he likes.
So when you style him, it’s the easiest gig in the world.
I haven’t done too many jobs but it’s pretty easy.
Do you think there’s ever gonna come a point where it’s just gonna be too hard to maintain a friendship with him?
I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’ve been on a rollercoaster for the past year so who knows?
If you could sit down with Chris and Rihanna in the same room, what would you want to get off your chest?
For everybody, emotionally, that would just be way too much. I’m a very mature person so if the time ever did come where we would need to sit down and talk, I’d do it. I’m a mature person. I can work it out but that would be a lot. (Pause) Yeah, it would be a lot.
FOR MORE FROM KARRUECHE AND “THE KILL,” SEE VIBE’S FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013 ISSUE HITTING NEWSSTANDS AND iPADS SOON.