The Life And Style Of Harlem’s Fatima B

Voque magazine reports that in some ways menswear styling was a natural fit for Fatima B. The fashion powerhouse—who has helped to shape the looks of Wiz Khalifa, The Weeknd, and D.R.A.M.—first fell in love with menswear thanks to her father. “I’ve always been intrigued by men’s fashion since I was a child observing my dad get dressed,” says Fatima. “He wore tailored suits, he believed in always having a good watch and wearing all of those minimal accessories that a man should always have.”

Her father’s influence can be seen in more than Fatima’s predilection for sophisticated suiting; thanks to his job with the United Nations, the Harlem resident spent her early years living in Japan and trotting all over Asia, absorbing culture and developing a cosmopolitan sense of style. “I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world since I was six-months-old,” says Fatima. “When people first see me, they think I’m just some chick from Harlem, but I’ve had experiences in a bunch of different cultures from a young age. I think this perspective has allowed me to style my clients and bring out their individual looks.”

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Thinking outside the box, and resisting stereotypes and classification, were guiding principles that led Fatima throughout her career. “Being boxed in has always been a challenge. You just have to work twice as hard to overcome that.” That desire to forge her own path and develop forward-thinking creative direction is what led her to a watershed moment as a stylist. In 2012, Fatima dressed rapper Wiz Khalifa in a full-on, Jimi Hendrix-inspired get-up—skin-tight striped trousers, and speckled fur coat, topped off with a treasure trove of jewelry. The album cover look went down in infamy in the eyes of rap purists and Twitter critics. But to style savants, it served as a precursor for the free-wheeling future that was imminent in menswear. “That cover is iconic to me, whether people didn’t believe it or not. I feel like it opened the door for people to express themselves.”

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The thread of self-expression is interwoven in Fatima’s career, seen most notably in her current client roster. From the Funkadelic-meets-cozy cool of D.R.A.M., and the bombastic dope-boy fresh of Meek Mill, to the suited swag of marketing guru Steve Stoute, Fatima keeps her creative muscles flexed by meeting the demands of her eclectic portfolio of collaborators. “I think the most challenging part for me has been styling different types of men, and understanding each person’s taste,” says Fatima. “I don’t want everyone to look the same. I want to give people that wide range of my sense of style so it’s hard to put me in a box.”

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When it comes to dressing herself, Fatima cites the Reebok Classic Leather as one of the pieces that allows her to avoid classification. She’s especially adept at mixing luxury labels with her Harlem-bred swag for a truly unclassifiable look. “I’m the person who loves to mix and match brands to create a look that’s new,” says Fatima “You’ll catch me wearing some classic Reeboks, with a Chanel dinner coat, and a pair of Levi’s.” Citing influences that span from Kelis to Dapper Dan, Fatima knows that she owes some of her jiggy style to the city streets that she calls home. “Harlem really shaped my style,” says Fatima. “It was like school or a boot camp in being fly. You always had to have a conversational piece—a dope jacket or some fly sneakers. I could be wearing something simple but my accessories would make it stand out. Statement pieces have carried me a long way.”

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