If you were ever wondering who is responsible for Cardi B’s eclectic style, it’s Kollin Carter. The young visionary has dedicated most of his career to working with Cardi, turning the Bronx rapper into a bona fide style maven. From the club to the Met, and even to court, there’s no denying that Cardi serves a look everywhere she goes. And thanks to Carter, she has graced everyone’s best-dressed, rocking showstopping attire that’s apparently now worthy of its own exhibit.
Last year, CJ South kicked off the Creative Jenius Report “Respect the Process” event at Room Service in the Beverly Center. A creative series highlighting today’s most provocative thought leaders, cultural influencers and collaborators. First up was a celebration of Carter’s most iconic fashion moments with the famed rapper. The event doubled as an exhibit showcasing styles that he personally curated for Kulture’s mom, including looks from Cardi’s “Money” music video, standout fashion week looks and head-turning designs by Michael Costello and Christian Cowan.
“The goal is not necessarily to be accepted, but get them to perceive your vision in the way that you’d like them to,” he says.
ESSENCE got a chance to chat with Carter about the exhibit, Cardi’s iconic Mugler moment at the Grammys and how the pair won over fashion’s elite. Read below.
ESSENCE: How does it feel to have your work recognized?
Kollin Carter: It feels great. It’s super surreal. Everything moves so fast. You have those moments where everything stands still. And you’re just like, “Wow, this was a dream.” So the fact that it’s now happening, it’s like, dreams come true.
ESSENCE: When Cardi was just starting out, did you have trouble pulling from certain designers? How has that transition been to now having every label dying to dress her?
Carter: It’s interesting when certain brands decide, “Okay, so this is taking place, so I feel like we can dress her now.” Or like, “This was what drew us to her at this time.” It’s just interesting to see how that whole process goes. It’s all about making people believers, and everybody’s not going to start as a believer, but eventually the goal is not necessarily to be accepted but to get them to perceive your vision in the way that you’d like them to.
ESSENCE: How has it been forming a creative bond with Cardi?
Carter: It’s been amazing because it’s rare. You look at the fashion icons, and you look at Rihanna and Lil Kim and they consistently spend a certain amount of time with their stylists. It was a relationship, it was an aesthetic that was built through chemistry and I don’t think people really realize how important that is. When you jump around from stylist to stylist to stylist, you don’t get to develop a sense of authenticity. I feel like for me and her, it’s just been super rewarding because she stuck with me and I stuck with her.
ESSENCE: What is one of your favorite looks that you’ve put Cardi in?
For me, I would have to say Mugler because it was surreal. I went to Paris to look through the archives and it was just surreal for me. Seeing Mugler references as a teenager to then being in Paris, in the office, going through these pieces that haven’t been worn since I was 5 years old.
This story was originally published June, 2019.