My earliest encounter with style was growing up in Brooklyn. You notice the imagery around you. My mum had nice style. She would set my clothes out when I’d go to school because I was a latchkey kid.

I never spent a lot of money on clothes, that’s why style is so important and fashion is so unimportant. Bohemians don’t think about what they’re wearing in that way. They are more concerned about where you are in life.

a group of men with their faces swapped

Bethann Hardison, Daniela Morera, and Stephen Burrows at Studio 54 party for Valentino, New York, 1977.

Getty Images

People look at photos of me and say I had a lot of style. But it was just a choice with dressing. I would wear Issey Miyake or Yohji Yamamoto, and I’m still a Comme Des Garçons person. I always related more to the Japan aesthetic. I love Junya Watanabe. When I first discovered him I liked his sensibility; the sense of fun.

I think you start to dress differently as you grow. As you start to age, you become shorter; your body alignment slightly changes so you have to amend your style and find things that really fit well. You can’t go too cheap. But no matter what, I really am a tomboy.

You don’t want to be buying new clothes all the time. Sustainability is a state of mind.

I went through the punk period with Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Mclaren. People like John Galliano were calling my agency. It was a special time: Ray Petri was putting I-D

I was the only Black woman out there among the model-agency owners. I grew up in the garment business, and I was connected, but I was still a Black woman in a business where there were none. It was a nervy time for me to do what I was meant to do. I told my investor I would do it for five years and did it for 13.

a person wearing glasses

Bruce Gilden

I’m a purger. I get rid of so much stuff you should never get rid of: my pieces by Azzedine Alaia and Willi Smith.

If it’s not broke, why fix it? Now repeat wearing is encouraged. You don’t want to be buying new clothes all the time. Sustainability is a state of mind.

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue of ELLE.