A BYOB Harlem house party in 2008 set the stage for what would become a groundbreaking partnership for Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald (above, from left). At the time Bannerman was getting schooled on the world of glossy magazines as GQ’s fashion market assistant, while McDonald was working at Marc Jacobs. After meeting through mutual friends, they launched their firm, Wayman + Micah, and set out to make their mark dressing ingenues.

The duo’s work with It girl Tessa Thompson in particular has propelled their artistry to the global stage. Named among The Hollywood Reporter’s “25 Most Powerful Stylists in Hollywood 2019,” the longtime friends are heightening the actress’s aesthetic one appearance at a time—from her chromed-out Rodarte gown on the red carpet to her bondage-inspired attire at the Met Gala. ESSENCE sat down to chat with the creatives about their vision for the in-demand star. Read on to find out.

1. THE VICTORIAN GOWN THAT WOWED

Tessa is an eccentric fashion aficionado. She loves to wear outfits that will leave the press and fans astonished. The terry cloth gown with exaggerated ruching on the skirt and sleeves from the Vaquera Fall/ Winter 2019 collection did just that. It added a fun twist to the standard red-carpet fare we see at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Tessa supports emerging designers, and pairing the number with translucent Brother Vellies boots and a Mateo box bag seemed fitting.

Tessa rocks a Victorian-like Vaquera gown.

2. THAT CHANEL COUTURE STUNNER

We were fortunate to have been able to join Tessa at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2019 couture show. As we viewed the fanciful gowns and elaborate suits, we were drawn to look 44. From the gilded trimming to the delicate ruffles, the dress had us in awe. As the model retreated to the entrance, Tessa turned and gave us a nod over her shoulder—we all agreed it was a top contender. Tessa would go on to wear the gown at this year’s Academy Awards.

She wears Chanel haute couture at the 2019 Academy Awards.

3. TESSA’S KINKY MET GALA GETUP

We were reviewing Chanel’s haute couture archives and pulling inspiration for what she was going to wear at the event. She wanted to stay true to the gala’s camp theme as well as the aesthetic and heritage of Chanel. As it has been explained to us, “camp” is the exaggeration of reality. So we took a dress that embodied conservative design and embraced the idea of exploring one’s inner kinks that, for one night only, get to be shown on the public stage.

Her bondage-inspired Chanel ensemble made a statement.
The team creates Black Girl Magic behind the scenes while she prepares for the Met Gala.

Tessa is an eccentric fashion aficionado. She loves to wear outfits that will leave the press and fans astonished.

4. THE INTERGALACTIC RUFFLED NUMBER

Tessa was the lead of the Men in Black reboot. We wanted a custom red-carpet showstopper that would be as stellar as the iconic franchise. We decided to collaborate with Rodarte on the astral design. The ruffled gown and moon-shaped Judith Leiber clutch mirrored the film’s sci-fi motif while complementing Tessa’s quirky personality.

The star rocks futuristic Rodarte on the red carpet.

5. THE STAR’S AVANT-GARDE SUIT

We wanted Tessa to start off the MIB press tour strong and agreed that this oversize suit with cobalt blue pleated panels would set the tone. Along with our team, she is a huge fan of Robert Wun, the designer. The black suit honors the film while the blue panels make Tessa appear powerful and feminine

The actress stuns in an architectural Robert Wun suit during the Men in Black: International press tour.

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