Marrisa Wilson is a fashion visionary. Known for her unique blend of classic elegance and modern trends, the designer’s signature hand-drawn and painted prints draw attention and speak directly to the soul.
Seemingly with the distant purpose of stopping onlookers in their tracks, each piece from her MARRISA WILSON New York collection is crafted with simple lines and attractive silhouettes that feature an explosion of color. In short, her clothing is a wearable masterpiece that women from around the world cannot wait to get their hands on.
Wilson knew that she was destined to be a fashion designer at a young age. “One day after school, I came home and saw my mom making new curtains and reupholstering the chairs in our house. It was in preparation for my First Communion,” Wilson tells BrownStyle Magazine exclusively. “She made fabric-covered buttons for the seat cushions with leftover scraps. I took a few of those scraps and started making dresses for my Barbies.”
Wilson says her mom happily supported her design dreams by teaching her how to hand-sew. She even gifted her with a mini sewing machine. “From that day on, I knew that I wanted to create my own brand— even though at that time, I didn’t know of any other designers that looked like me.”
To fulfill her aspirations of becoming a successful fashion designer, Wilson enrolled in classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York City. During this time, the young adult honed her sewing skills and soon discovered that she also had a passion for drawing fashion illustrations. As they say, the rest is HERstory.
Since launching her brand in 2016, Wilson’s stylish collections have caused quite a buzz. Her designs have even caught the eyes of several celebrities including Tamron Hall, Stephanie Beatriz, and Rachel Lindsay, all of which have been spotted in looks from her collection.
Marrisa Wilson Has S.O.U.L
Self-Care: “[I love] to put on some of my favorite old tracks and dance around my apartment, at least for a few minutes.”
Opulence: “My business partner/fiancé and I enjoy going out to a nice restaurant in the city for dinner every once in a while.”
Unity: “I make it a point to ensure that Black models’ hair is treated with love and care.”
Love: “It’s a mid-afternoon or a nighttime tea for me!”
When asked about the inspiration behind her pieces, Wilson explains that instead of focusing on the trends like some designers, she makes it a priority to use her designs to story tell and make a genuine connection with those who shop her collections.
“I try not to look too closely at what’s trending. I rather explore history and culture,” she shares about the thought process that comes with designing her timeless garments. “It allows me to tell stories that resonate with people in a timely way. I take those stories and translate them into details and silhouettes.”
Wilson explains that her designs are also highly inspired by self-reflection and her Caribbean heritage.
“As a first-generation Guyanese-American, I realized that to understand where I am today as a human, a daughter, a designer, and artist, required a deeper exploration of my heritage and the generations that came before me,” she shares candidly, noting the importance of looking to the past to help understand the future.
She continues, “I ruminate on childhood memories and trips to the house my family still kept in Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana. I thought about how serene and placid it always was, the melodic chirps of birds outside my window. I remembered the vibrance of the country and its rich culture, always on display at the bustling Stabroek Market, so full of bright colors and bright energy. I reflected on the natural beauty of the land, how I could step out on the veranda, lean over the railing, and pluck a mango right off the tree.”
The talented artist debuted her Spring/Summer 2024 collection during New York Fashion Week. She described the collection as a harmonic blend of disparate Caribbean cultures and presents a globalized view of the classic Americana aesthetic.
“In MW SS24, two distinct cultures and aesthetics are merged, creating one beautiful, soulful Calypso sound. I used markers and dry brush paint to give the textile a more rustic feel, like sandy terrain,” she tells us about the design process of her latest collection. “And while I painted and built my playlist, I explored aspects of my concept to translate into silhouettes, prints, trims, as well as poses, attitude, graphic design style, etc. Finally, I incorporated all of that research into fashion illustrations that brought the entire story together.”
Marissa has been dancing since the age of three. Her MARRISA WILSON New York FW23 collection was inspired by the life and work of Katherine Dunham.
Wilson is living her ancestor’s wildest dreams, and she hopes to inspire other creators to do the same.
“My true mission is to create a Black, female-owned fashion brand that has a real place in this industry. A brand that can grow and scale and help to foster and nourish other underserved talents,” she reveals. “I want to prove that female designers and all designers of color can and should have a seat at the fashion table. We need fashion houses that will seek out, employ, and advance the next generation of underrepresented talent in our industry.”
She adds, “I’d love to do more partnerships and explore how my prints could be expressed on different canvases — whether that’s with interior, footwear, or eyewear. My dream collaboration would be to design Guyana’s Olympic uniform. I think this is my first time saying that publicly, so here’s to manifesting it!”
After seeing firsthand how fiercely competitive the fashion industry can be, Wilson advises budding fashion designers to reflect on two crucial questions before designing: “why” and “why now.”
“I’ve found that these questions are a great guiding light whenever I find myself hitting a wall or feeling uninspired,” she explains. “It helps to develop work that feels special to you versus anyone else.”
When Wilson is not designing, she is dancing. “Tap was always my favorite style — I was absolutely mesmerized by Savion Glover’s footwork,” she tells us. “Self-care is putting on some of my old favorite tracks on the speakers and dancing around my apartment, at least for a few minutes.”
To learn more about Marrisa Wilson and her collection, visit her website.