The Fabric of Change: Carlton Jones & Maison Black’s Role in Shaping Fashion’s Future

In the bustling heart of New York City, where dreams are as vivid as the neon lights, Carlton Jones has emerged as a beacon of innovation and inspiration in the fashion industry. His journey from a curious newcomer, fascinated by the world of wardrobe styling, to a revered designer and mentor, encapsulates a story of relentless passion, creativity, and the desire to make a significant impact.

Carlton’s narrative begins in Wilmington, North Carolina, a place far removed from the glitzy runways of New York Fashion Week. Yet, it was here, amidst the serene backdrop of the coast, that Carlton’s aesthetic sensibilities began to take shape. “I grew up on the beach. I’m from the coast of North Carolina. So I liked that sort of aesthetic and that relaxed attitude,” Carlton reflects, his voice tinged with nostalgia. This early exposure to the coast’s laid-back lifestyle would later become the cornerstone of his design philosophy.

Upon moving to New York at the tender age of 21, Carlton’s foray into the fashion world was anything but planned. Working in retail, he stumbled upon the realm of wardrobe styling, a discovery that would alter the course of his life. “That’s where I first encountered stylists actually shopping on jobs. And that’s what gave me the first idea to enter the world of wardrobe styling,” he recalls. This epiphany led him to leave Barneys New York, embarking on a journey to carve out his niche in the styling world.

Carlton’s big break came when he styled Queen Latifah, transitioning her image from rapper to songstress. This pivotal moment not only catapulted his career but also showcased his ability to reimagine and redefine personal style. “I was the first stylist to put her in a dress,” he says, a hint of pride in his voice. His work caught the industry’s eye, leading to collaborations with hip-hop royalty and establishing him as a sought-after stylist.

However, Carlton’s aspirations extended beyond styling. Inspired by his experiences in the Caribbean and his desire to create inclusive, resort-inspired clothing, he launched his own brand. “Resort isn’t a destination, it’s a feeling,” he states, encapsulating his brand’s ethos. His designs, characterized by their relaxed silhouettes and inclusivity, reflect his journey from the beaches of North Carolina to the fashion capitals of the world.

Carlton Jones not only stands out as a visionary designer but also as a guiding light for the next generation. His collaboration with Maison Black and Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan to mentor Zyana, a young Black designer from Detroit, Michigan, underscores a profound commitment to fostering talent and breaking barriers in the fashion industry. This partnership is more than a mentorship; it’s a bridge connecting dreams to reality, especially for those who have been historically underrepresented in fashion.

Industry Club Fashion Mentors and Mentee’s; Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan Diehl Club; #DONWeekend2023; Photographer: Darren Clark for Redfoot Vegas

Maison Black, a platform dedicated to amplifying the voices and work of Black designers, has been instrumental in this journey. Their mission is to create a space where Black creativity and craftsmanship are celebrated and supported, providing a launchpad for emerging talent to shine on global stages such as New York Fashion Week. By partnering with established designers like Carlton, Maison Black not only champions diversity but also ensures that the next wave of fashion innovators receives the guidance, exposure, and opportunities they deserve.

For Carlton, working with Maison Black and mentoring Diana was a natural extension of his own journey and values. “I’ve always believed in the power of mentorship,” Carlton shares. “In this industry, having someone to guide you, to share their knowledge and experiences, can make all the difference. It’s about passing on the torch and ensuring that the path is a little brighter for the ones following.” His commitment to mentoring is a testament to his belief in giving back and fostering a more inclusive and diverse fashion industry.

On August 27, 2023: Industry Club Fashion Mentors and Mentee’s; Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan Diehl Club; #DONWeekend2023; Photographer: Darren Clark for Redfoot Vegas

Zyana opportunity to showcase her work at New York Fashion Week, under Carlton’s mentorship, was a pivotal moment not only for her career but also for the visibility of Black designers in the industry. This platform allowed her to present her unique vision and creativity to a global audience, challenging the norms and pushing the boundaries of fashion. Carlton guided Zyana through the intricate process of refining her ideas, focusing on creating designs that were not only innovative but also commercially viable. “It’s about finding that balance between creativity and marketability,” Carlton explains. “Zyana has incredible ideas, and it was my role to help her channel those ideas into something that resonates with the audience and the industry.”

The mentorship culminated in a presentation at New York Fashion Week that was both a celebration of Zyana’s talent and a reflection of Carlton’s guidance. The collection, characterized by its functional fashion and transformative silhouettes, was a testament to their collaborative effort and shared vision. “Seeing Zyana’s work come to life on the runway was an incredibly proud moment for me,” Carlton recalls. “It was a reminder of why we do what we do – to bring new voices to the forefront and to show that fashion is enriched by diversity.”

Maison Black’s role in this journey was crucial. By creating opportunities for Black designers to showcase their work at prestigious events like New York Fashion Week, they are not just opening doors; they are tearing down walls. Their commitment to nurturing talent and providing a platform for underrepresented voices is reshaping the fashion landscape, making it more inclusive and diverse.

Photo James Johnson, Courtesy of BGCSM

Carlton Jones’s partnership with Maison Black and his mentorship of Zyana is a powerful narrative of inspiration, empowerment, and change. It highlights the importance of mentorship in the fashion industry, the impact of platforms like Maison Black, and the transformative power of giving emerging designers the opportunity to shine. As Carlton continues to inspire and pave the way for future generations, his legacy will undoubtedly be marked by his contributions to a more inclusive, diverse, and vibrant fashion world.

Learn more about Maison Black at https://maisonblack.shop/ and Carlton Jones at https://carltonjonescollection.com

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