There are many designers that inspire me with their work and artistry, but this designer not only inspires me, but we have a lot in common. We both grew up in rough neighborhoods, we both share a love for Yves Saint Laurent (although, he got to intern for him when he was studying in Paris), we share the same attitude about life and our work, and we both have a lot of ambition and endless amounts of faith in ourselves. His name is Anthony Mark Hankins.
Anthony is one of those designers that is just as amazing as Yves Saint Laurent, yet is always on the pulse of today like Karl Lagerfeld, although he is not as well known as they are. He is mostly known for his work being sold on HSN and now QVC, one of the biggest home shopping channels. All of their shows are shown all over the world and they are usually on 24/7. These shows reach millions of people at any given time and place.
Anthony was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is the youngest of 7 children and has a twin sister. He studied at the Pratt Institute School of Design in Brooklyn, NY and continued his education at the Ecole De La Chambre Syndicale De La Couture Parisienne in Paris, France. Coco Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, his rival and friend, Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Dior have also studied there.
Although the course load was heavy, he managed to secure an internship, then a job with Yves Saint Laurent. He also was an apprentice for Adrienne Vittadini, Willi Smith, Michael Paris and Homer Layne (who worked and preserved the legacy of the most famous couturier, Charles James). While a student, an interview with Bob Mackie (the ultimate showman of glamour and glitz, who designed show stopping pieces for Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Tina Turner and his most famous client, who would wear anything he created and caused a sensation, Cher), pointed him towards the ready to wear mass market.
When he returned to the States in 1992, he took on a job at JC Penney Corporation as a Quality Assurance Manager, then as the in house designer in the Minority Supplier Development Division in Dallas, Texas. This was the company’s effort into getting more African Americans to shop in their stores. He would come out with a line of clothes to fit the lifestyle of the active woman at affordable prices.
He founded Ramone Moya Ltd., which was the umbrella company for the AMH Group and Anthony Mark Hankins Inc. JC Penney carried his initial line for a couple of years and as business picked up, he then marketed to Target, Kmart, Sears and Nordstrom, which were all of the kinds of stores that families with not a lot of money went to for all of their needs. In the midst of all of this, he was approached by BET (Black Entertainment Television) to do a home shopping program called “BET Shop”, which had a direct connection to the Home Shopping Network or HSN. To this day, he continues to create ready to wear designs with a combination of American sensibility and sportiness, European fine fabrics and Parisian couture detail. He sells them on HSN in the United States and on QVC outside of America.
Most of his pieces are made of jersey and are very flattering for every size and body type as well as affordable in every price point.
As much as I would love to be like my idols, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, etc, I can also see that being like Anthony Mark Hankins is also an American success story. With success, you have to give back and I love that he has a foundation that helps inner city children realize their dreams. The foundation is, like the title of his book “Fabric Of Dreams”. This is a man that has designed his own success and he wants you to as well!!!! This to me, is a successful man. To come from a place where you made a way out of no way and come out on top, is simply amazing!!!
Anthony Mark Hankins, your charm, your personality, your drive and your passion has made me a fan for life!!!!!
Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!