In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called UNAPOLOGETIC. Every day, we’ll celebrate different aspects of black culture through profiles, interviews, roundtables, reviews, videos, and op-eds. #Blacklivesmatter and we hold that truth to be self-evident.
Asata Maise is a powerhouse on the rise. At just 23 years old, the Wilmington, Delaware, native has already worked for a major fashion house, traveled the world, and started her own bespoke clothing company Asata Maisé. What started as an innocent attempt to navigate away from a problematic teacher has grown into a full-fledged career of creating signature looks for a host of clients that include members of the band Boytoy and Lockhart Embroidery's Marie Lockhart.
While every piece that Maise creates is one of a kind, there is a common thread in that each article is a clear nod to bygone eras. She finds a way to bring the past to the present, using vintage fabrics and drawing inspiration from classic films, and infuse modernity into each of her hand-drawn and hand-crafted designs. On occasion, Maise creates custom pieces from pre-existing vintage garments, by painting or embellishing over them in some way. Influenced by the bespoke tailoring of London's Saville Row, she has opted to bypass mass production, choosing instead to stick to tradition and take each client's measurements and involve herself in every part of the process, from drawing designs and selecting patterns to hand-sewing buttons and hems.
When asked what inspires her most, she says, "I’m still learning, traveling, and growing spiritually, so many things from my own personal growth and experience. Meeting people, especially women… women inspire me so much. Their stories and our struggles, and black people and our culture and what we've had to go through and that we’ve still managed to do it with style and dignity."
A series of life events, including her recent acceptance into London College of Fashion, have encouraged her to accept that she has a gift and a skill set that had before gone unnoticed, and she is now choosing to design and create full time. You can find Maise's custom-made garments on Instagram. If you'd like contact her and to have your own piece made, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below, get to know the designer and see some of the looks she designed.