Designing Baltimore: Bishme Cromartie

Bishme in his studio on Saratoga Street in the Maryland Art Place building. “At MAP, everyone is creative. You’re constantly inspired,” he says.
Bishme in his studio on Saratoga Street in the Maryland Art Place building. “At MAP, everyone is creative. You’re constantly inspired,” he says.

At just shy of 25, Baltimore-based designer Bishme Cromartie has seen his ultra-modern gowns and garments appear at award shows on the likes of Jill Scott and former “America’s Next Top Model” Eva Marcille. Cromartie, with whom our editor chatted last fall, means it when he says he’s designing for the “smart and sexy” female character. Cromartie grew up right here in Charm City and is adamant about working out of this city, despite a growing Hollywood fan base. We’re glad to have him and we can’t wait for you to see his latest in our April issue.

We had the chance to catch up with the designer recently.

Baltimore STYLE: What is your favorite piece that you’ve designed?

Bishme Cromartie: So far it would have to be the dress I made for singer/actress Jill Scott. She wore it while performing at the Stevie Wonder Tribute. It was broadcasted on CBS. Not to mention she took a picture with Beyoncé. A garment of mine touched Beyoncé!

STYLE: If you hadn’t become a designer, what do you think you’d be doing?

BC: I think I would have been a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. And I would have somehow convinced her to let me be in charge of the tour costumes.

STYLE: How would you describe your own personal style/how you dress on a day-to-day basis?

BC: My personal style changes. It really depends on if I’m working that day or not. When I’m heading to the studio I usually wear hoodies and jeans or oversized tees. I like to be extremely comfortable when I’m at my studio. When I am heading out to an event or to a party, I like to have a clean look with cohesive colors. I’m really big on statement pieces. Whether it’s a jacket or a shirt, I like to make sure everything flows together.

STYLE: What about Baltimore inspires you?

BC: The majority of my collections have been inspired by Baltimore in some way. I love the people here, I love the buildings we have and I also love meeting other talented people. I’m very proud to have grown up here. Baltimore receives a lot of negativity and it’s very annoying, especially when there are people here who are trying to make a difference.

STYLE: What has your journey as a designer been like?

BC:  My journey as a designer has been a long and difficult one. But it’s a journey that I am still on and that I am very proud of. I’ve met some amazing people from Fern Mallis, the founder of New York Fashion Week, to one of my all-time favorite fashion photographers, Jamie Nelson. I’m constantly learning new things and I think that’s what helps me design the way that I do. There used to be a time that I would show up to sets for scheduled photoshoots and people would assume that I’m the assistant instead of the designer. Situations like that helped me become the designer I am today.

STYLE: Who are some of your favorite designers?

BC: Alexander McQueen is my all-time favorite. I have his logo tattooed on my arm. I’m also a huge fan of Giambattista Valli.


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