In addition to a prolific, impressive, and inspiring styling career, you also launched your own ready-to-wear line in 2019, Aliétte. Clearly, you had been waiting to do something like this. Can you talk about the process? Tell me about how the line came to be.
Fun fact: A lot of people may not know that I actually started off as a designer. When I was in college, I started off as a designer, and I was doing a lot more cut-and-sew T-shirts and hand-embroidered T-shirts. Please don’t Google or try to find them because they’re horrible. That’s how I started off. At the same time, styling started picking up, and it was a way that I really felt like I could express myself and hopefully go back into design one day. Did I think it would be this soon? No, not at all. I’m still busy styling. I’m still on a plane every week, and I’m still juggling and maintaining multiple clients. So I thought it would be when I’m a little calmer, and I’m trying to figure out what my out is.
But for me, I was working with a client, and the client was doing a red carpet. The client was wearing this amazing look and turns to me and says, “Hey, why am I not wearing your clothing line?” And I was like, “I don’t know. I need to work on it. We’re gonna do it in the future.” The next week, the client emails me and says, “What’s going on with your clothing line?” and I responded, “I’m working on it, I’m working on it.” And the next week, the client emails me and says, “Hey. What’s going on with your clothing line?” The following week, the client had a photo shoot, and I went, and the client was like, “Hey, what’s happening? You playing around?” I actually had been working on some stuff, and she was like, “Let’s go to dinner,” and asked, “How I can support?”
Two months later, the client was nominated for a Critics Choice Award and was like, “I’m wearing your dress.” I didn’t even have a sample. I had sketches. And that client is Issa Rae. I remember the day before the Critics Choice Awards, we did a fitting. Of course, I’m a stylist, so I got backup options. She tries on this dress, and she said, “What do you think?” I was like, “It’s cool. I got these other dresses.” She was like, “Are they your dresses?” I was like, “No.” She was like, “I’m not wearing them, then. This is what I’m wearing.” That’s amazing, to have someone who’s that supportive and to help you make that leap of faith. And a month later, I showed at New York Fashion Week.