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Elly Karamoh Styles the House of Harvey

Elly Karamoh Styles the House of Harvey Image
  • Posted on 18th Aug, 2022 13:47 PM
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The stylist to both Lori and Steve Harvey talks creation, inspiration, and innovation with the fashionable family.

“People are like, 'Who the fuck is dressing Steve Harvey?!'” Elly Karamoh isn’t wrong. Everyone from fans on social media to other stars and celebrities have been lusting over the host, comedian, and media mogul’s refreshed look. GQ has called Harvey a style icon, and a 2021 Paris trip including a monochromatic green look nearly broke the Internet. “It always means so much to see other fashion icons celebrating us. Lenny Kravitz gave us our flowers and complimented Mr. Harvey’s style. Lionel Richie did as well when we saw him in Dubai,” Karamoh says. Almost magically, Harvey has managed to look current and classic, simple and ornate, bossed up and accessible. I say almost because Harvey’s style revival was no accident: Karamoh is who we can thank for the recent looks Harvey has donned. Harvey himself has publicly credited his stylist with teaching him range. And that’s just Karamoh’s first trick.

In early July, Karamoh announced his latest client: ultimate It girl Lori Harvey. The two had been friends for years so their collaboration was a long time coming. Zendaya has Law Roach. Rihanna has Jahleel Weaver. “She told me I was her guy,” Karamoh says of Lori Harvey matter-of-factly. “Removing the layers and showing the human beneath the clothes—that to me is style. I enjoy being seen as a little unapproachable. Style should be intimidating when you’re at the top.”

With Karamoh now styling this iconic father-daughter duo, he’s certainly at the top and climbing higher and higher. Harper’s BAZAAR sits down with him to learn more about his upbringing in Paris, move to the United States, as well as his introduction to and ascent within the fashion industry.

As a young Black boy in the fashion capital of the world, Karamoh was surrounded by luxury and aspiration. But it was his mother who first made him fall in love with what clothes could do for a person. “Mom would identify a pair of shoes and bags with a first and last name," he says. "Not just, ‘Go get my shoes,’ but, ‘Go get my Karl Lagerfeld shoes,’ or, ‘Have you seen my Celine bag?’ Clothes and accessories were respected objects.”

In the eighth grade, when Karamoh moved with his family to the United States, the isolation caused him to gravitate even more toward television and online research. “I didn’t speak English initially, so I was in ESL (English as a Second Language), which made it harder to socialize with others,” Karamoh recalls. From lime green pants on the first day of school to mall trips with his mom, Karamoh stood out. “I was getting so much judgment as a Black teenage boy who put effort into my appearance," he says. "I learned to walk through a crowd of NOs. Not just in the U.S. but also in Paris. Everyone else’s perception of me made me more rebellious. I didn’t want to be anything that society demanded of me.”

The ridicule quickly turned into admiration, and by Karamoh’s senior year of high school, he developed a reputation for curating jaw-dropping looks. “People were asking me to design their prom dresses and whatnot," he shares. "Eventually, I started a hustle where people would drop off their jeans and $20 in my locker, and I’d bleach and distress them. When I realized that people trusted me with their image, it made me want to take things more seriously.” Before long, Karamoh was sketching imaginary collections and trying to figure out how to make those fashion dreams a reality.

Steve Harvey at Paris Fashion Week, July 2022
Christian VierigGetty Images

Karamoh attended the Art Institute of Atlanta, where he was finally surrounded by other like-minded creatives. But after just a year, he traded in the tuition for on-the-job instruction. Initially working as a seller at Gregory’s, Karamoh learned the craft of glamorizing a product. Soon, selling clothes turned into wardrobe styling, and Karamoh built a name for himself locally. “Womenswear was easier, because women understood the romanticizing nature of it all," Karamoh says. "But it was menswear that required more of a craft from me. I learned about fabric thread count, recording proper measurement, and designing a garment. It required me to be determined and excited about it every day. I couldn’t bullshit a wealthy man making million-dollar deals who knows what a quality suit is.”

The stylist started feeling himself. “I once introduced myself to a celebrity comedian by saying, ‘Hi, I’m Elly Karamoh, and I’m famous,’” he laughs, reminiscing about this time in his life while also standing 10 toes on the fact that his confidence opened doors that talent alone couldn’t. At just 23 years old, Karamoh styled professional basketball players Cameron Payne, Bobby Portis, and Satnam Singh Bhamara for the 2015 NBA draft. That same year, he was also styling then starter for the Indiana Pacers Monta Ellis and his wife. “One Paris Fashion Week, I saw Mr. Harvey while shopping for a client," he says. "I had already known him through Lori who I was friends with for years by this point, but now I wasn’t just Elly, one of his daughter’s friends. I was Elly, the working professional.”

Five years into working with athletes and entertainers, Karamoh received a 5 a.m. call from Marjorie Harvey. “We’ve always been friendly through my relationship with Lori, but this was out of our norm, so I thought something was wrong,” Karamoh tells us. Mrs. Harvey asked Karamoh two questions: “First, she wanted to know whether I’d style her husband if given the opportunity. I said yes but that I had a job, and Mrs. Harvey said, ‘Don’t worry about that and just answer my questions, baby,’ so I did. Then, she asked if I had a passport.” Within a few hours, Karamoh told his old boss he’d be on vacation, and by that evening, he was in South Africa, working for his new boss, Steve Harvey.

It was supposed to be a test run, but Karamoh has been working with the Harveys ever since (he never did return from that “vacation”). “When I arrived to look at the wardrobe, Marjorie told me, ‘You’ve got the key now. Watch what that boy is gonna do.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do yet, but her validation allowed me to see Mr. Harvey as a muse and a client,” Karamoh says. From monochromatic looks to turtlenecks to more texture, Karamoh didn’t hold back from leaving his print on Mr. Harvey. “I felt confident pushing him outside of his comfort zone, because he had a wardrobe that made him a star," he says, "and I was coming in to remove some of those layers like pocket squares and tie bars in favor of European cuts and silhouettes.”

After a while, the executive producers at Family Feud noticed and requested Karamoh to style Steve Harvey for the show as well. Now that he’s styling longtime friend Lori Harvey, I wondered if it was strange at all working so intimately with members of the same family. Karamoh insists working with the Harveys is natural and that there’s no awkwardness at all. “Marjorie and Steve Harvey believed in me and my vision before many," he says, "and I am forever in debt to them. Besides Mr. Harvey being my client, he is also my mentor and a great example of a father figure.”

Lori Harvey at the 2022 Essence Fest
Paras GriffinGetty Images

Lori Harvey and Elly Karamoh made their sartorial debut at this year's Essence Fest, where Ms. Harvey wore a Y2K look complete with a Christian Dior bandana, baggy Saint Laurent jeans, and a coordinating Saint Laurent men’s jacket, which Karamoh cut to be a midriff-baring cropped piece. The look was an ode to trendsetting Black girlhood at one of the premier events in the country for Black girl joy. “I’ve known Lori's style for a while and enjoyed past stylist work with her, but have always had opinions on what I’d do differently,” he says. How does Karamoh approach dressing someone who’s already at the top of everyone’s wish list? “It's like coming in as an architect. You study what worked before and the opportunity for something new. I want all of my clients to look back 10 years from now and say we killed it without feeling like they were wearing a costume.”

So what’s next for Karamoh? He’ll be ripping and running with Lori Harvey, as well as traveling back to Paris this September for Fashion Week with Steve Harvey. “I’m just letting God take me on this journey," he says. "It’s the only dream I’ve ever had!”

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