Article by Laurise McMillian | Owl Staff

Move over Michael Kors; there’s a new designer making his mark in the fashion industry, and his name is Bishme Cromartie.

The 23-year-old Baltimore native was aware of his passion for fashion at a very young age. From cutting up socks for doll clothes to curating his own fashion show at sixteen, this self-taught designer has been strutting the catwalk to success.

Aside from raw talent, one of Cromartie’s strengths is his unmatched ability to innovate. Unlike most designers who take ideas from things that have already been done, Cromartie makes a contentious effort to try something new with each item of clothing he creates.

“I actually pull a lot of my inspiration from objects or poems” says Cromartie. “My inspiration for my garments never come from other garments. I love to make sure my designs are original and completely true to me.”

Despite the fact that Cromartie does not use other designers to inspire his work, he is nevertheless admirable of Giambatistta Valli, Gareth Pugh, and Iris Van Herpen. His absolute favorite designer is Alexander McQueen; he even has the fashion phenomenon’s logo tattooed on his arm.

Though Cromartie strives to bring creativity and freshness to the fashion world, he admits that he does not dress himself with the same unique flare. “I am not much of a fashionisto,” he chuckles. “I’m pretty much a t-shirt and jeans guy. As far as my designs, I would like to say that it’s the complete opposite of how I dress. My designs are adventurous, bold, sophisticated and very architectural.”

The young craftsman certainly doesn’t let his understated personal style stop him from shining bright. Cromartie landed the gig of a lifetime when he dressed R&B superstar Keyshia Cole for her 2013 concert tour in which she performed her hit single “Woman to Woman.”

“I swear that came completely out of nowhere. I’m friends with her stylist and never thought to make her anything. But once the opportunity was brought to my attention, I figured it would be a great experience” says Cromartie. “I cannot lie; backstage at the concerts was extremely hectic. I will always cherish that experience. I had to construct seven garments in three days. Talk about sleepless nights.”

There’s no doubt that all the hard work paid off. In addition to the tour, Cole also wore a custom Bishme dress in her “I Choose You” music video. It’s clear that the singer is smitten with Cromartie’s daring designs, but she’s not the only one.

Cromartie’s dresses have been seen on a number of celebrity starlets including America’s Next Top Model winner and actress, Eva Marcille. She wore a Cromartie original during the second season of BET’s hit reality show, Real Husbands of Hollywood.

Malaysia Pargo of VH1’s Basketball Wives LA also rocked a dress by Bishme at New York Fashion Week 2012. Danity Kane’s Dawn Richards and The Pussy Cat Doll’s Kaya Jones have been spotted in Bishme mini dresses as well.

“I had to construct seven garments in three days. Talk about sleepless nights.”

Bishmie Cromartie

Aside from celebrity exposure, Cromartie’s work has participated in Emerge! New York Fashion Week, has been featured in ELLE, a prestigious fashion magazine, and on Vogue Italia’s website. A resume like this could easily make one think that Bishme has reached his pinnacle. However, the artist says he’s just getting started. “There’s so much that I want to complete and do.”

Cromartie adds, “I don’t want to limit myself or my brand. I would like to say in five years my line will be in department stores and available all over the world. I can’t see the future, but I feel that there will be great things coming.”

One cannot help but to be inspired by Cromartie’s success story. He is living, breathing proof that even small-town kids can make it big. “I’ve learned so much by just going through it in real life. The best thing I could say [to an aspiring designer] is to never give up, stay original, stay inspired and never compare yourself to anyone.”

With his one-of-a-kind designs and humble personality, Bishme Cromartie is well on his way to the fashion hall of fame.

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