In 2009, Jeffrey Williams blew us away by dressing like a 21-century pasha in shiny red berets, green drop-crotch pants, and custom-made wedges fit for a dessert pilgrimage. Though he won Bravo's the Fashion Show, Jeffrey is no disposable reality show designer. The next chapter of Jeffrey's style and story continues to be grounded in his Muslim roots and his dedication to connecting time periods, cultures, and people.
Get the latest on the henna-obsessed, lover-of-layers below:
"The evolution of my personal style isn't propelled by the flavor of the month or the newest trend -- it's a slow and beautiful journey. Rich, luxurious fabrics, like furs and silks, will always be a part of my life. I still love to show off my arms, legs, and chest. But I don't like to feel weighed down. There are some pieces that I wore during my Closet that I probably won't anymore, because they're too restricting. Although, next month, I could be wearing a skin-tight latex bodysuit."
"When I was on the Fashion Show, I had to abide by so many rules. I couldn't change my hair -- and I was known for always changing my hair -- so now that contract is up, I'm growing it out. Sometimes, I'll play with wigs and extensions, but mostly I'm just enjoying my natural hair. The inspiration is Kurt Cobain. I love his tussled, relaxed hair."
"There were lots of mental minds games on the Fashion Show. But they brought out my strength and made me remember how serious I am about designing clothes. I'm a unisex clothing designer, but on the show all I could make were dresses. Lately, however, I've been stripping the word 'unisex' from my clothes. It's just another label that puts you in another box. I'd rather create beautiful things and connect people through a thread of fabric. The people can choose where they want to place them."
A trip to India reminded Jeffrey of his love for androgyny and the silhouette -- elements that are a part of his most recent bag. While in India, Jeffrey says, "I would stain my nails with henna. I love the way the amber bleeds of the nails. At home, I'll stain my nails, check emails, and watch an inspirational video as way to relax and meditate."
"It's difficult for me to find shoes that I like. I wear a higher heel than most males so I have to scurry over to the women's section. But even if I find the right one, I'll cut them up or paint over them."
"I dye my eyebrows blond in order to make my eyes pop. I also darken my moles. It's nice to exaggerate things here and there. From five in the morning, I'm always ready to go. What I wear to the grocery might be the same thing that I wear to a gala. I even walk around my house in heels. To turn the corner and see myself in the mirror looking put-together gives me joy."
"Gold goes with my skin tone -- it's warm and regal. Both my arms and fingers are long and thin, so I like to break them up with bracelets and rings."
"I learned from my mother to always beat the drum of love. I would not dress the way that I do if I didn't come from a pure and natural home, where my mom praised me for turning my collar upside down or for wearing her jacket. As a little boy, I would watch my mom in her full Muslim garb, and the unity and the silhouette of that kaftan tunic shape has changed my life."
Photographed and interviewed by Elisa Goodkind
In the first photo, Jeffrey's pants, top, and bag are from his clothing & handbag collection; the coat is from a vintage store in New Rochelle; the shoes are from Amsterdam; and the sunglasses are from an LA street fair.