If you’ve ever watched Kimora Lee Simmons’ Life in the Fab Lane, you’re probably familiar with designer Jerome Lamaar Fortez:
A brilliantly creative wunkerkind, Jerome started as an intern at Baby Phat at age 15, and began designing collections by 19. Now a trend forecaster for the French company Promostyl, the 23-year-old took a bit of time to tell you young hopefuls how you, too, can Break into the Fashion Industry.
Jerome credits his family for his artistic inclinations. He says, “My grandfather was an arts and crafts teacher and photographer. My grandmother was my source of fashion. She taught me how to sew at age 8. She also introduced me to the world of fashion illustration. Everyone told me I drew pictures before I learned to walk…”
“… Later, I entered a specialized High School for Art and Design. While in school I took art courses at Parsons, and later attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).” Jerome secured his Baby Phat internship due to his talent, drive, and larger than life personality, “In high school I dreamed of working at Baby Phat, and called every day to find out about internships,” he says, “Every time I called, they told me nothing was available.”
He finally wowed the Baby Phat team with an Honors Society project he completed while in high school. “We had to present our portfolios and market research to a group of internship coordinators for houses like Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, ” Jerome explains. His impressive presentation won over his audience. “A lot of designers offered me internships after I presented, but I wanted Baby Phat the most,” he says, “I was so happy when they offered me a position.”
Jerome’s main goal was to design a Baby Phat collection before his 21st birthday, and he reached his objective by age 19. He says, “I wanted it so badly, and thought about it until it manifested itself.” It also didn’t hurt that he impressed his tough-as-nails boss, Kimora, by working hard and staying focused. “I sacrificed a lot! I didn’t go out, and basically went to school, went to work, and went home. I always knew what I wanted.”
He adds, “Kimora is a smart, powerful woman who knows what she wants and how she needs things done in order to achieve success. I watched and learned, did what she did, and stayed humble, always understanding there’s a reason why she’s the boss.”
Now Jerome, who counts Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Tim Hamilton and Brian Wood amongst his favorite designers, works as a trend forecaster and image consultant. ” It’s simply divine,” he says, ” It requires many hours and days of studying and acquiring new information, and that’s the best part about my new career.” In five years he says, “I see myself with my own successful accessories collection. In 10 years, I’d like to host a fashion television show and travel the world.” He definitely has the style and charisma to pull anything off!
In parting, he advises young designers to, “Know what you want and focus your energy. Your goals are very important–It’s very easy to get side tracked. Most of all, always believe in your talent, for it has been given to you for a reason. Simply embrace it.”
Wise words! He’s definitely one to watch.
*We’re working on even more Breaking into Fashion Posts. Have a dream job you’d love to know more about? E-mail us and we’ll do our best to get you the bomb info!
*Read more about Jerome’s style and interests in this interview with hot website Modamouth. All kinds of fierce!