Ayo Edebiri is not afraid of taking a risk on the red carpet. In the two years she’s been regularly walking them, she’s worn a Loewe dress decorated with 3D balloons, a Rosie Assoulin blue crop top and pannier skirt with tan gloves, and a 1920s-esque mint-and-lavender Giambattista Valli couture ensemble. No matter the occasion, she brings a playful attitude and an artistic sensibility. “As somebody who started as a writer and comedian, I didn’t expect this kind of career, and it’s been really amazing to play and transform with clothes and hair and makeup,” Edebiri says over the phone before the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards on Monday night in New York.
She was attending the CFDA’s annual ceremony to present the accessories designer of the year award (which The Row’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen won). For the occasion, she and stylist Danielle Goldberg picked out a slinky, black, backless Loewe halter dress. “I like the idea that every look can do something a bit different, and we can have this sleek, expensive, chic, sexy moment,” Edebiri says. She paired it with accessories from three Black designers: shoes from Brother Vellies, a Brandon Blackwood bag, and Mateo jewelry.
Though she didn’t expect to be a fashion darling, Edebiri has always had an appreciation for style. Growing up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, as a Pentecostal Christian, she had to develop her taste while adhering to certain dress codes. “You have to wear a skirt that’s below your calf and some kind of hat,” she says. “I was interested in ways that I could find personal style in the confines that I had to exist in. It wasn’t much at the time.” At her local Barnes & Noble, she devoured Japanese magazines like Fruits and found ways to re-create outfits she admired on what she describes as “a JCPenney budget.”
“They used to have this section that would lay out 30 days of outfits just based on a few clothes,” she remembers. “I loved stuff like that. It really helped me to see people who have a strong sense of style and how you could mix and match and still have an identity through the clothes.”
Gossip Girl, of course, was another inspiration for the 28-year-old. (See the red blazer and miniskirt Edebiri wore with red tights to South by Southwest earlier this year.) Asked whether she’s a Serena or a Blair with her style, she says, “I was neither. I was whatever side character was in the background who had to go to church and play the oboe. It’s Dan vibes, honestly.”
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