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Bishme Cromartie takes us in the 'Batrix' for FW24 during NYFW

By Vivian Hendriksz


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People |Interview

Bishme Cromartie at his FW24 Presentation during NYFW Credits: Bishme Cromartie

From the moment he began sketching his original designs and learning the basics of sewing from his aunt at a young age, Bishme Cromartie, a self-taught designer, realized that fashion was much more than a mere hobby to him. After successfully growing his brand over the last few years, the Baltimore-native designer is ready to carve out a name for himself beyond his Project Runway All-Stars Season 20 win. Returning to New York Fashion Week for a second time to showcase his FW24 Collection, he unveiled his latest collection during a presentation on Tuesday afternoon at the Ritz-Carlton.

Bishme Cromartie at his FW24 NYFW Presentation Credits: Bishme Cromartie

Presenting a striking, bold and fluid Fall/Winter 2024 collection which seamlessly blends streetwear with Avant Garde, his NYFW presentation tested new ideas and pushed the boundaries of his designs. Building his brand while remaining true to himself, the collection focused on the Bishme Cromartie woman "who is ready for change, constantly on the go and loves to stand out, no matter where she is​​." First catapulted to fame when he came in fourth place in Season 17 of Project Runway, FashionUnited talked with Cromartie to learn more about the conceptualization behind his presentation, his inspiration for FW24 and his experience showing at NYFW this season.

Could you share a little bit about your journey of becoming a self-taught fashion designer and what inspired you to pursue fashion design?

"Fashion has always been an escape for me. Starting around nine years old I began to understand that garments were a way that I express myself and that fashion design was more than a hobby to me. I developed from there, designing for friends and family, and eventually moving to clients as my confidence grew."

Bishme Cromartie FW24 Presentation at NYFW Credits: Bishme Cromartie

Winning Project Runway Season 20 All-Stars must have been a transformative experience. How do you think this win influenced your growth and approach as a designer?

"Winning Project Runway All-Stars Season 20 was amazing and opened many doors for me. It’s also opened my eyes to the reality that there is a lot more that I still had to do to truly build my brand. I think ultimately, having a positive attitude towards the process and working to see the bigger picture is what Project Runway taught me."

Bishme Cromartie FW24 Presenation at NYFW Credits: Bishme Cromartie

Reflecting on your previous experiences at Los Angeles and New York Fashion Week, how do you think these events shaped your perspective for your upcoming NYFW presentation?

"I’ve done so many shows at this point, which is so crazy to me. During casting this season, I had a model say that she remembered my show from 2017! I’ve literally been doing shows since I was fifteen, which is part of the reason I’m always so calm on show day. I try to stay focused on what’s happening in the moment and be sure to take it all in."

Could you explain to us a little about the creative and logistical process behind your AW24 presentation for NYFW? What does the term ‘Batrix’ mean?

"I was really inspired by the movie The Matrix, and I wanted to take the idea of living within another world and put that into this collection. I feel like I am in a place now where I wanna have fun with my collection. I always wanted to do things because I felt like it was the right thing to do, but now I want to have fun and show that side of myself by bringing people into my world."

Bishme Cromartie Moodboard for FW24 Credits: Bishme Cromartie

"I named the collection ‘Batrix’ because for me, I felt like we always have decisions to make in life. Even if we know what is the right decision, we often go back and forth about what to do. In the film, ‘The Matrix’, the main character is told that you have the freedom to make a choice, but ultimately you know what you must do. Right now, I am in a place where I feel like I know what I must do to bring my collection and my brand to life."

Your FW24 collection embodies strength, sexiness, and a blend of masculine and feminine elements. How do you balance these contrasting themes in your designs?

"For me, it feels easy and natural to do an even 50/50 most of the time. Fifty percent of the outfit, I want to be avant-garde, while on the other side, I want to be strictly masculine or feminine. It is all about the wider and where I want to take the whole idea of the experience. So I think it all depends on how I am feeling when I create the collection to divide up everything."

Bishme Cromartie FW24 Sketches Credits: Bishme Cromartie

Can you elaborate a bit on the conceptualization and design process behind your FW24 collection?

"I’ve always loved streetwear. Growing up in Baltimore, a lot of the brands that I was exposed to were streetwear brands, so you see those influences in my designs. Streetwear is very important for me, but I also just love gowns. So, to be able to put both of them together is the ultimate expression of my design tendencies. In a way, I secretly think it is me designing for myself because I wear my feminine side and my masculine side, but when I design, I like to intertwine them together."

Having designed for high-profile clients like Lizzo, Saweetie, and Jennifer Hudson, how have these experiences influenced the designs you create?

"I really just focus on thinking about where the person is going and how I can merge that with my design language. How can I bring my world to life and also bring people in?"

Bishme Cromartie FW24 Presentation at NYFW Credits: Bishme Cromartie

Showcasing at NYFW is a significant milestone. How do you feel about presenting your work on schedule for a second time?

"I’m really so excited, grateful and love showing in New York. Right now, I am just trying to get myself to play with my designs more than being too serious - I don’t wanna feel stuck in a box."

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring designers who look up to you and want to make their mark in the fashion industry?

"My advice would be to find your authentic voice and stick with it. Do not rush yourself; whatever you feel needs to happen will happen. Be patient, it will all make sense in time."

Cierra Brown and Bishme Cromartie at his FW24 presentation during NYFW Credits: Bishme Cromartie
Bishme Cromartie
Emerging Designer