In the collapse of Alexis Phifer's engagement to one of the hottest rappers of our time, Kanye West, the fashion designer submersed her focus into her clothing line, Ghita. VIBE's own @trayhova got the scoop on Alexis' thoughts on Amber Rose and life post 'Ye, but also chatted with the fashionista about rekindling her love for fashion in the wake of a market crash, gaining respect as a black women among designer giants and elevating your style on a budget. -Niki McGloster (@missjournalism)
Update us on your fashion line? How's it been going over the years?
For the past couple of years after Kanye and I did break up, the market crashed as far as retail sales, so I think I skipped about one season. It is my passion and it is my love and I did find that it really is important, as a designer, to, at least, show that you're willing to do work, so I would post different seasons on my website just to have that to show "Yes I'm still here and you can order from me." I left my showroom, and I was making dresses out of silk. People didn't really want to buy a $400, $500 dress that wasn't necessarily designer like a Cavalli or something like that, so I took time to reassess what I wanted to do, and I started making pieces out of a rayon blend and things you can wear every day like tank tops, tee shirts. It's a full-on line now; it's not just a dress line. Now it's a little more for everybody, and it's basically a re-launch of the line. It's going to be sold in Kitson starting at the end of June for fall, and it'll be in other stores, but Kitson is the first.
How do you pronounce the name? Is it Gee-da?
It's Gee-ta (Ghita). I just like to make sure people pronounce the T as a T instead of a D.
Where did you get the idea for the name?
It has multicultural different meanings, but I take from the Middle Eastern one and it means "A special jewel." I wanted the line to be named after a girl, so I went through all these different names and all the different meanings and that one just stuck with me. I thought the meaning behind was great so I rolled with it.
Style is a physical representation of us, and as people grow older, their style changes. Has your personal style evolved in any way?
The only thing I ever wanted to do was to be a designer, so I'm always evolving and changing in my style –always. That would make me feel stagnant if I wasn't switching it up. I'm on Style.com every day and all kind of different blog sites just to see what's going on. That is genuinely is what I'm interested in. That's my world. Those are the things that make me happen.
It doesn't feel like work?
Um, I mean it definitely is a labor of love, but I wouldn't chose to do anything else.
What are some ways for young girls who don't have a lot of money to explore their style? Do you have some do-it-yourself advice for anyone that wants to take their style to the next level?
I don't think it's about how much money you have; I just think it's about your personal style. Good places to go are vintage stores, resale shops or thrift stores. You can get a good fur coat in there for $40, a leather skirt for $10. You can mix up those things and stylize it; maybe you can find a sweatshirt and cut the sleeves off, don't be afraid to go get rhinestones and sew them on the tops of your sweaters or don't be afraid to add shoulder pads. There are always ways to customize on a budget, and I'm not mad at Forever21 and H&M and Zara. All those stores knock-off stuff quicker than designers can get them out.
Is the industry better now compared to the industry five years or seven years ago for black women to gain respect?
I never say "I'm black so it's going to be hard for me." If anything I think it's better because I feel like I have more opportunities, like I've been approached by Essence and on my Twitter [account] a whole bunch a black girls follow me. When I'm around Tom Ford or Marc Jacobs, they're always so complimenting, you know it's a game recognize game type of thing. I see you for who you are, and you see me for who I am. If you're on that level with yourself, then other people will have to come at you that way. I just think it's a bonus to be a black girl in this business because not only are you a role model for yourself and your people but other people as well.
Have you had any struggles?
My parents never said to me, "You have to work harder because you're black, because you're a girl." I just think of me as just me. That's just what it is. Even raising my son, I don't put that stigma on him either. Whatever it is that he loves and is passionate about, work hard and do that, but "You're black and this and that" –he's God's child like everybody else.
Where do you want to go from here? What are your ultimate goals in the next five years?
I definitely want a family, [and] I want four kids. I would like to be a successful businesswoman having a line that is accepted by women all over.