You may not know Brooke Worrel’s name, but you’ve probably seen her handiwork. The Los Angeles-based designer and artist behind Hell Bent Leather has spent the better part of the past decade creating one-of-a-kind pieces for musicians, celebrities, and sports figures — not to mention her fellow motorcycle enthusiasts. Worrel’s highest profile job yet steps in front of millions — when Guns N’ Roses hits the Coachella mainstage and the reunion tour .
When she’s just completed and delivered new stage clothes and guitar straps for both Slash and Duff McKagan. “This is my middle school and high school wet dream,” she laughs. “They’re my first rock star clients since going solo, and it doesn’t really get much better than this.”
In some ways, being hired on by the GNR guys seems weirdly fated. Prior to starting her own company, Worrel spent eight years apprenticing for, then assisting the queen of high-profile leather wear, Agatha Blois.
“She taught me everything,” Worrel says. “I took some classes at L.A. Trade Technical College to learn pattern making and how to sew on the big machines, but it was really Agatha. We got close and she just decided she was going to mentor me.”
Over the course of her career, Blois has carved out a name for herself in the fashion world, and created custom pieces for everyone from Iggy Pop, Billy Idol, and Steven Tyler to Jennifer Lopez, Sheryl Crow, Shakira, and Britney Spears. But her first customer, as Worrel tells it, was none other than Axl Rose.
“She was a dancer in New York,” Worrel says, “and she’d go backstage at all these rock shows. She met Axl at one and she was wearing this vest that she had made. He came up to her and told her he liked it and asked her to make him one like it. That was kind of the start of it all.”
Nowadays, Agatha splits her time between designing custom clothes and running Carnival Wax, her essential oil and fragrance company. Worrel still says she’s the best in the biz. While Hell Bent’s aesthetic skews slightly more subdued than Bois’ Custom Leather, Brooke’s attention to detail, fit, and quality is the direct product of her mentor’s teachings. “We’re still close and she’s been amazingly supportive of me,” she says. “But she still calls me if her sewing machine breaks.”
Inside Worrel’s light-filled studio space, classic rock plays through the speakers. The room is tidy but bustling with action. In the back corner there’s a collection of exquisite jackets, corsets, and skirts — a mix of Bois’ pieces and her own — each with hand-sewn zippers, fringe, patches, and intricate grommet details. Closer to her workspace, there are patterns, chaps, a nearly finished leather dress (her first), all awaiting future fittings.
Brooke pulls out a box of leather pants so well-worn they look like they might disintegrate in her hands. “These belong to Jimmy [Webb], who runs Trash and Vaudeville in New York,” she explains, shuffling through a pile of pink leopard, sparkly snakeskin, and American flag patches. “He wanted me to make him new ones, but he gave me the old ones in case I can salvage anything off them.”
It was Webb who initially sparked the GNR job, Worrel says. “He texted me to say he’d given them my number, and Duff called a couple of minutes later.” And it’s Webb who has Worrel especially stoked for her upcoming Vegas trip, where she’ll see Guns N’ Roses — and her pieces in action — for the first time.