When the temperature heads south, put those fluorescent polos away and switch to suits and bags. Bronx fashion hero Corey Baptiste shows you how to stand out in any room. Crowded subway cars included
Corey Baptiste defaults to an Italian accent subconsciously in casual conversation. It’s particularly well-pronounced when he says “Ar-maaani” or “Dol-ce and Gab-a-na”. The twang is attributed to time spent racking up runway miles for the aforementioned couture brands while slaying print campaigns for Kenzo and Ralph Lauren.
Baptiste, a 23-year-old Bronx bomber (his Yankee fitted stays close) had no clue this could be life. He wanted to model himself after his mom, Gail Noel, a hard-working social worker and law school graduate with Grenadian roots. He loved Law and Order and The First 48 marathons so he enrolled in John Jay College and majored in criminal justice. But a thin college kid has to eat too. Corey met his eventual manger Brandon Wilson trying to get a job at Abercrombie & Fitch. Wilson, who worked as a recruiter at Abercrombie at the time, gasped at Corey’s runway package. He had Tyson Beckford’s chiseled face but with less bulk. His small size build was his biggest asset. Soon he was collecting his first modeling check after giving face for a DKNY campaign on the Atlantic Ocean. He’d come a long way from that cream first communion suit that he adored as a preteen.
While killing time at New York’s Hillstone restaurant waiting to catch a yellow cab to the airport for his next campaign, Corey discusses career growth. Not much of our conversation has to do with fashion outside a bold goal of wanting to be the face of Armani (“He’s the king of all kings…the Jay-Z of fashion.”). Instead he talks about Pookie, Chris Rock’s character from New Jack City, and how much Wesley Snipes did for dark-skinned actors. He insists that Al Pacino’s Scarface role would suit him. And says matter of factly that Michael Bay should keep an eye on him. Big talk for a guy who hasn’t sat down with his acting coach yet. But he’s a big thing in a small package.