At the tender, crows’-feet-free age of 24, fashion designer and Baltimore native Bishme Cromartie has been sketching and making clothes for almost a full decade. We caught up with him at his Saratoga Street studio, a workspace he has called his professional home for one year.
Bishme’s obsessive focus (or call it passion) brings the built, bespectacled, frequently smiling young man more success all the time. Earlier this year, gorgeous singer and actress Jill Scott rocked the Grammys in a black bodyconscious dress he’d designed for her.
“I made the dress she wore while performing during the Stevie Wonder tribute,” Bishme says. “A black cocktail, knee-length dress with sleeves to the floor. It took
her waist in and made a great shape. The U-neck showed just enough cleavage. Whenever Jill’s stylist hits me up, he always asks, ‘What do you have in mind?'”
Lucky for Bishme, he’s got plenty of ideas to spare. His spring 2016 line toured Philly Fashion Week last month. “It’s really girlie-pink and gray-which I don’t usually do,” he says. And will premier his fall 2016 line (“it has a dark, moody vibe”) at an Oct. 24 fashion show benefitting Maryland Art Place, where his studio space is located.
In between sketching and sewing, the designer says he has always made likeminded contacts who support his talent and dreams-despite occasional setbacks. Rejection from the Fashion Institute of Technology years ago only made him work harder.
“My mom said I could either dwell on it or try to make a path,” he says. “From there I just kept working and networking.”
This summer, he flew to L.A. for Black Entertainment Television’s “Experience” party as part of the network’s annual awards show. Not only was Bishme tapped to appear on camera in a BET Spotlight documentary short, he got to outfit former “America’s Next Top Model” Eva Marcille in the purple crop top, which she wore to network owner Deborah Lee’s house party. (His work has also been featured by “Vogue Italia” and on the cover of “Elle Vietnam.”)
At the moment, Bishme finds himself commuting quite a lot between Baltimore and Los Angeles, but he hopes to retain a long-lasting base in his hometown.
“It’s hard to be inspired by someone who’s not working where you’re from,” says the designer, who counts his mom as one of his biggest inspirations.
“My mom dresses like a tomboy-she wears scrubs to work. When I have my first fashion show in New York, she wants me to make her a gown she can walk in. It won’t be hard, I work with different people all the time!”
So what’s the common denominator?
“I love women who are very sure of themselves-that’s who I design for,” Bishme says. “They have confidence through the roof. That’s the sexiest thing a person can have.” .. Up-and-coming fashion designer Bishme Cromartie sketches with a “smart and sexy” female character in mind-and he’s been doing it every single day since he was a kid.
Model: Felecia Flaherty
Photos by: Holly Burnham