Krystal Phillips is a testament to what can happen when you bet on yourself. The New York-based designer took a leap of faith years back to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her time there allowed her to go after her dreams while receiving an education that would push her to launch her namesake line Kaphill.
Years back when she was getting her start in fashion it was 2008 and Phillips was cutting her teeth as a design intern at Diddy’s Sean John. Immediately following this informative time, she went on to continue interning elsewhere–eventually, she landed at Century 21 as an assistant buyer by 2010, the same year she began attending FIT. Upon graduation in 2014, she co-launched her first brand Marie + Annette NYC. Then, a stint at Macy’s ensued and she would work full-time and juggle running her brand (which shuttered in 2019). She stayed at Macy’s for 7 years and largely perfected her skills as a product development manager there. Next, she landed at Rent The Runway and continued building her product skills. But, then she made a major decision to step away from corporate life.
Krystal’s impressive resume combined with her schooling at FIT is the crux of what made her equipped to take on the large task of finally revealing her own fashion house without business partners: she took the leap officially three years ago. Now, she’s thriving whilst carving out a loyal customer base.
The brand is for the woman who wants to live out loud with her statement pieces that are flattering to every woman’s curves. Filled with vibrant colors and classic silhouettes, Phillips is hopeful that Kaphill will become a go-to brand for powerful women. Sheryl Lee Ralph recently wore Kaphill for the second time for a stunning Backstage magazine cover further proving that Krystal’s goals are already happening.
The upcoming collection will be shown at the Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom and is entitled “We Belong Together.” The new range will center around women supporting one another throughout life’s ebbs and flows. Phillips pulls inspiration from her recent trip to the South of France. “The joy and elegance were what I wanted to capture this season,” she tells ESSENCE.com.
While creating this latest collection Phillips listened to a Duke Ellington song on repeat. That track was a huge source of inspiration for the designer.
ESSENCE.com caught up with Krystal Phillips before the chaos of releasing her latest collection during New York Fashion Week ensues below.
Can you share what distinctive house codes will be in your newest collection?
Krystal Phillips: For our Spring/Summer 24 Collection, “We Belong Together” we are taking you on a journey through our love story of past and present loves that culminates into the perfect matrimony between souls. So we are pulling in our house signatures, with some updates of course, like our staple Puff Sleeve Denim Jacket, worn by Miss Sherly Lee Ralph. Our silk separates continue with our house favorite, the High Waist Silk Inset Pant, and The Silk Wrap Top.
Was the power of women a guiding principle for this collection?
The entire collection is based on the power of women. “We Belong Together” is a tale of lovers who through time and transformation remain constant in each other’s lives. This collection is a visual representation of the love girlfriends pour into us throughout this journey of life, it is about the abounding love your friends bestow upon you during life’s precious moments.
What are your largest sources of inspiration for your forthcoming collection?
The main source of inspiration for this collection was my travels to the south of France. I fell in love with a little town called Menton and I always told myself when I got married I would get married in the south of France. The ease and luxury of the city, and the soft but fiery sunsets were my true inspiration. Along with vintage weddings in the 70’s specifically the bridal party of black women. The joy and elegance were what I wanted to capture this season.
If you could choose an album that reflects how this collection makes you feel, what would it be? And were you listening to anything worthy of noting while you were in your creative process?
I don’t think one album could accurately capture what this collection makes me feel, but I do have a song in mind, “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington. I listened to this song every day while designing the collection and it is one of my favorites. It’s a song that makes everything feel romantic and the We Belong Together is a very romantic collection.
What women or figures are the ideal muses that you see wearing this collection?
I see powerful confident women wearing this collection. Women who are unapologetically themselves, like Candice Brathwaite, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Kelly Rowland. Women who are confident and lift other women up around them. I see fashionable moms and corporate women who are making an impact in their worlds. Powerful women whose love and light precede them.