Feb 11th, 2018, 03:18 AM

Chris Cross: From Singing to Styling

By Janice Louis
Stylist Chris Banks interviews with talk show host Donna Drake
Stylist Chris Banks interviews with talk show host Donna Drake
In March 2015, Chris Banks emerged with his greatest venture yet – becoming a stylist.

Chris is a man of abundant creative talent. Coming from Long Beach, Long Island, he tried his hand in singing, prior to becoming a stylist. Standing tall at 5’7’’ with a tapered haircut and his signature ripped-jeans, Chris Banks could be the next phenomenon to hit the fashion industry. He works closely with journalist Joanne Phillips and recently interviewed with the Live It Up talk show host Donna Drake. There is Chris Banks – the depression-ridden young man managing the day to day business of styling – and there’s the Chris Banks who finds inspiration in being black, gay and authentic.

Image Credit: Chris Banks

When did styling first come about for you?

March 2016, in the shower, I was going through something and trying to figure out my next steps. I knew I liked clothing and my parents kept me pretty fly when I was younger. I thought to myself, maybe I can be a stylist? I started doing showcases at the Long Beach Public Library because I knew the people there.

Who inspired you to become a stylist?

I was my own inspiration. For me, being a creative person, it wasn't hard to find the art of it all.

Do you have a mentor? Life mentor?

Yes, since last year I met Joanne Phillips. She is a journalist I met at the Algeria Hotel rooftop for the Women’s Empowerment Award where I did a 10-minute showcase. She’s done the Emmy academy and NYFW. My actual styling mentor is Erica Matthews from the UK. She does YouTube tutorials on styling like “10 Steps to Being a Stylist” and explains the breakdown of a budget for a look. I love her

When asked how to describe his brand 3 words came to mind: empowering, loving and real. Chris believes confidence is key. Own it – if people can see that you are unapologetically you, they love it. It becomes something you can relate to.

How do envision your looks before you style someone? Is there a vision board? Do you go by their requests?

I try to tap into where they are, research on who they are. For those who don't have a style, I ask them to bring their own clothing. I don’t really a vision until they bring the clothes. I also try to use the same format for when I style people, I know it isn’t ideal, but it helps.

Image Credit: Kai Chen

How do you add a bit of Chris Banks to your looks?

By making my clients try different things they want to try, that's the key. I challenge myself and challenge others to try something they never wanted to initially. It’s all connected. That's my stamp. I remember I was styling this one guy who hated the Chelsea boot trend. I told him to just put them on and if he didn’t like it, we’d change it. After taking a couple of shots he became a fan of the look. That makes me happy.

Image Credit: Chris Banks

Describe being black in the fashion industry? What are some things you have seen or been through?

Um, I haven’t been in the industry too long to speak too much on it, but I still see a lot of plus size men and women being body-shamed. Unisex clothing is also looked down upon.

Do you feel there is enough diversity in fashion?

Yes, I see it a lot more. There is always more work to be done but it has become more frequent which is always great to see.

What kind of trends are you digging this season?

A bold red lip, women’s suits, turtlenecks, funky shades and a ripped jean...with the kneecap out of course. If it’s an urban look, your knee WILL be out with Styles by Chris.

What are some things about styling most people don’t know about?

It's a business. It will kill you if you don't have a business mindset, it's not just about the clothing. A lot of people don't give stylists that chance. Stay inspired daily.

This year Chris Banks hopes to start promotional looks for his clients, “If I want to make any kind of money doing what I love people need to start recognizing my creative work as a service. Everything I do comes at a cost but it will be worth it”. On the other hand, Chris is currently loving good hats, a peacoat and a pair of chelsea boots. The all black and all white outfit trends as well as converse sneakers will never get old. He also credits NBA player, Russell Westbrook as one of the best-dressed celebrities in addition to Luke James from New Edition.

What did you think of the 2018 Grammy looks?

I loved Rita Ora’s velvet black dress, Eve’s embellished suit, Bebe and Childish Gambino.

Who would you love to style in the future (alive or deceased)?

Alive, it would have to be Brandy because she’s my favorite singer. I can help Jacob Latimore because he looks confused and New edition’s Ryan Kelly and Keith Power- I love their energy. Deceased, Tupac. I love a bandana look.

3 styling tips for anyone looking to upgrade their wardrobe:

Have an idea of where you want to go, sometimes when we have ideas we get scared – try it. Once you envision it, just try it. Have the confidence to wear it and most importantly be real with yourself in anything you do, you don't want it to come off forced.

You can follow Chris' journey through the world of styling on his Instagram account: @stylesbychrisb