Gabriella Karefa-Johnson has had a very interesting few months for her career. In December, she became the first Black woman to style a Vogue cover for model Paloma Elsesser. The very first black woman. In 2020 and 2021. But I digress.
Additionally, barely a month later, her next assignment just so happened to be the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, for her first Vogue cover. And then one month after that, she styled Gigi Hadid's first solo Vogue cover. Oh, and she also styled the March Vanity Fair cover (featuring Billie Eilish). In the middle of it all, she managed to be tapped to style and star in Converse's spring 2021 look book.
So basically, sis is bookedT and busy, and her resume can go toe-to-toe with any of your faves. She's somehow flown under the radar as a boss of the fashion game, but in one of her most recent projects, her name is ringing bells.
In the cutest campaign you'll see today, Karefa-Johnson takes on the GOAT and GOAT Jr. for Stuart Weitzman's Spring 2021 Collection. The tennis star, who has worked with Karefa-Johnson for Stuart Weitzman before, poses alongside her daughter Alexis "Olympia" Ohanian Jr., age 3, who is shown wearing some of the brand's new styles that have us feenin' off the baby fever. It is the first fashion campaign that the mother-daughter duo has been featured in together.
Of the campaign, Williams says:
"It's a special campaign. I just felt like it was an opportunity because Olympia and I have been spending so much time together. Olympia is trying on my shoes all the time, it's so fun!"
But whether Serena Williams, or Zendaya, or the Vice President of the United States, GKJ (as she refers to herself), says through the whirlwind of her career, and the chaos of all her high-profiled projects, has been something she was ready for. On working with Vogue as the first black stylist, she tells The Cut:
"It really felt like a testament to how hard I've worked to get to where I am. It was an incredible honor, but it wasn't the greatest shock in the world. I'd worked for it, and I deserved it. I hesitate saying that, because I think it can sound hubristic, but it should be interpreted as somebody who set goals and worked really hard and who wasn't sure that they would come true. But when they did, it felt like it was the right time and the right opportunity. And I think that's why that cover was as successful as it was, because I was ready for it."
Her Instagram is filled with colorful, exuberant images of high-fashion nods to the industry, and comedic captions that show off her personality. Erykah Badu, Melina Matsoukas, and Lindsay Peoples Wagner (former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, also a black woman), are all flaunted throughout, as she’s basically screaming, 'I'm not new to any of this shit' as loud as possible.
Her start in the industry began when she realized her dream of "being a Spice Girl wasn't going to work out."
"I realized that maybe I don't have a good singing voice and maybe I don't actually care about music, I just liked the glam of it."
Instead, she learned by watching her grandmother and her aunt (a former model), and religiously reading Style.com and Teen Vogue. It opened her eyes to the world of fashion and clothes. She then took on a slew of internships to kick her way into the door; internships that included Women's Wear Daily and Vogue, telling Fashionista:
"I worked my ass off. I got to go on all of these amazing shoots, and I realized I liked being a fashion editor; it was the best of both worlds. You really have to be analytical, you have to be connecting the clothing to what's happening in the world, there are stories that are told through clothing, but those stories are also reflected in who we are as people, what people want to be buying, and how we translate that to any reader in America — actually, in the world."
And although she is often surrounded by those who may not look like her, she's very aware that, as a plus-size, Black woman, she carries a certain responsibility to be representative of the culture.
"I want people to know that if I'm working, literally anyone else can be working, because there wasn't a Black fashion editor that I'd look to when I was growing up — there was Andre [Leon Talley], who was amazing, but it wasn't a thing. I just want to be working consistently enough and creating pictures that are poignant enough that, to whoever's looking at them who might want to be a fashion editor, knows that it's fully possible."
Well, sis, that's exactly what you're doing.
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Featured image by Jan Zahradka / Shutterstock.com