A Feel for Fashion Gabriella Karefa-Johnson
Among the many reasons why Gabriella Karefa-Johnson stands out among fashion editors today is her genuine joie de vivre and uplifting point of view. When she’s not styling Vogue covers – see Kamala Harris, Paloma Elsesser, Amanda Gorman and Florence Pugh among others – she brings her vibrant yet discerning eye to the runway, most recently styling the Altuzarra and Etro shows. Based in New York, Karefa-Johson first worked at Vogue as an assistant to Hamish Bowles and an associate fashion director to Tonne Goodman before becoming the fashion director of Garage magazine in 2017. As an editor-at-large and through her many outlets, she underscores and advocates for greater diversity and is duly recognised for her efforts to expand representation. Her new collaboration with Target’s Future Collective features inclusive sizing; and in these cool, contemporary looks, she gives the impression of both model and role model.
What creates an emotional response for you in fashion today?
There is always (or hopefully) a moment at a show, after a few exits, where the story the designer hopes to tell codifies, and the looks coalesce into a complete vision. This is always an emotional moment for me because suddenly the six months of work solidify as an entire universe.
Often we see several designers arriving at a similar idea during a season. How do you explain this creative intuition?
The honest answer is this still mystifies me. Aside from trend forecasting, my only explanation is that the best designers really listen to the world we live in; their eyes and ears are open to our current condition; and they dream up their own antidotes to the challenge of existence.
How do you feel about designers expressing or interpreting their worldviews in their collections?
For me, it's a necessity for designers to interrogate the world we live in with a 360-degree lens. Merely existing in 2023 is a political act. Surely designing in 2023 should be the same.
How would you like to see fashion evolving this year?
I don't deign to prescribe how fashion should evolve. But what I hope for and expect is a global embrace of diversity, in all of its forms.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity