Karissa the Black Manhattan

Meet Karissa, a stylist with an eclectic vintage style. A few scrolls on her Instagram account will make you want to invade her closet! We picked her brain about her inspirations, projects, and advice. Check it out.

Favorite all time designer?
This is hard! I truthfully don’t have one!

Describe your style in 3 words?
Conscious, Culture, Art

How do you stay up to date on the current trends? Any favorites?
Fashion in some way or another just recycles itself so for that reason I don’t stay too up to date with current trends. I am constantly looking to the past for inspirations and what intrigues me about a specific era. My closet is strictly second hand clothing and vintage pieces so if the piece was interesting enough to make me gravitate and purchase it then that is all I need to consider it worthy to wear. My favorite eras for inspiration would have to be the 60’s and 70’s.

What are some must have items in your closet?
Some of the must have items in my closet would have to be a good vintage leather fur jacket, a good jean jacket, a solid pair of jeans to live life in, a vintage dress, mules and boots both flat and high heel and a sneaker that adds a pop of color to any boring outfit!

Work of a stylist can look different from one person to another. Could you tell us your work?
The composition of my work is based upon a feeling at its most elementary explanation. A more complex explanation of my work would be based upon history, art, nature and politics. Whatever or whoever I feel I want to present to the world to be understood or even just create an awareness about not even necessarily an understanding is the premise for my work and how I help others find their own unique voice when it comes to curating their own closet and sartorialism.

Where do you go or what do you do when you need inspiration for your work?
Inspirations for me can come from anywhere but mainly stem from history and a diverse spectrum of art. I am very much inspired by old photos of my mom when she was my age and was rocking her afro, the Harlem Renaissance, pioneers like Nina Simone, Katherine Dunham, Ebony Fashion Fairs Eunice Johnson and much more. When I need to plug back in to find some inspiration, its the people mentioned and again many more that help me understand how I am feeling. When I ask myself, “Who do I feel like today?” “Am I a black singer from the 60’s or a black dancer from the 40’s trying to push activism for their people through art?” It’s the people mentioned that help me understand what that looks like and I do my best to convey that message in my own way through how I present myself when I get dressed now, especially because I am working to curate a vintage closet. I am constantly looking to the past to understand the future of fashion and life in general, that’s my inspiration and I try to take what was before me and make it look a bit more  modern so that its relatable all the while still carrying the same tone of the past but with a different voice which is my own. The question of “How do I feel?” is always the basis for my inspiration, that’s what works for me, that’s my heart in fashion.

Could you tell us about your favorite client or project to date?
My favorite project I have been working on so far would have to be a collaboration with an up and coming mens fashion company called Zion and Hillside run by Molech J. It has been fun and a bit challenging to work with Molech because his style is different from mine. My approach to fashion is nostalgic and his is current and urban sophisticate but at the end of the day bringing both ideals together create beautiful content. This collaborative for men and women style is going to be awesome when its done, I can’t wait to share!

I am constantly looking to the past to understand the future of fashion and life in general, that’s my inspiration.

What is the hardest thing about the industry?
One of the hardest things that I’ve encountered is getting your uniqueness across in an industry that is over saturated with mediocrity is a battle. Everyone wants to work in this industry. Discipline, determination and perseverance are very important to winning that war;once relevant, fight to stay relevant, push yourself to higher heights.

What advice would you give to that person who is scared to take the leap and pursue their passion?
Confidence in anything is so important especially in art. There’s no such thing as a shy artist. Do it in fear and deal with the rest later!

Study and take notes! This is the age of information, everything is so easily accessible! I research things all day until I understand them to help build my brand and gain more knowledge. Have fun! Take what you do seriously but don’t forget why you started it; you have a passion for it! A wise friend once told me, “You can’t protect the career you don’t have yet, so for now just do it!” Now get out there!

What are your long term goals?
My long term goals are to have more than one vintage boutique, to give back and help the younger generation that aspire to be active in the arts (#BlackArtistsMatter) and last but not least to travel abroad and collect vintage and second hand items. I would love to curate a collection like Vogue magazines Hamish Bowles, he has a huge collection and some of the best pieces in the world!

Lastly, if we want to follow you and your work where can we find you?
Currently you can find me on Instagram @BlackManhattan and Etsy as BlackManhattan!

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