Growing up in Paris, Elly Karamoh remembers always being infatuated with fashion. The epicenter of all things couture and French style left a lasting impact on him, one that still influences him to this day as a stylist now based in Atlanta.
But moving to the US in 2005 was the turning point in bridging his two aesthetics: France's timeless glamour and the American celebrity phenomenon. "I've always known the power of watching pop culture," he says. "Stars like Rihanna and David Beckham were names that utilized the art of fashion to increase their fame and popularity."
Perhaps that's why his current role as stylist to Steve Harvey, one of the OG personalities in television history, has worked out so well for him. The TV host's new look — bright monochromatic suits and statement outerwear from brands like Balmain, Bottega Veneta and Tom Ford — caught nearly everyone by surprise last year.
"When I started styling Steve Harvey, it was a big assignment," he says. "People had their own opinions and a full picture of what Steve Harvey should look like or does look like, full of expectation. And I just wanted to take that off. My goal was to always make him a fashion icon in my own right."
Here, the breakout stylist talks his journey from Paris to Atlanta, finding his way in fashion and putting Steve Harvey on the style map.
You just styled your first cover shoot! How did it go?
It was so smooth and Mr. Harvey was so content with the entire production. He sat everyone down in the morning and just kind of introduced himself like he's never introduced himself because what he wanted from the shoot was a reintroduction for himself. He wanted to use the cover as a reintroduction because he feels that everyone knows him as Steve Harvey, only connected to one thing — The Steve Harvey Show, Family Feud — or anything that he's ever done publicly, he feels like he never got to tell people or express himself however he wanted to. So he sat down and talked to them and walked them through this visual journey.
What's the story behind the custom Balenciaga stole?
I was invited to the Balenciaga couture salon during my time at Paris Men's Fashion week. It was my biggest appointment that day , the team was so kind to clear the entire salon for me and present each look from their couture collection. I was very honored to be there, the team had already been notified that we landed the cover of PAPER. They presented some of their most amazing options. The moment I tried on the red stole everyone in the salon said, "Wow this is the cover !" It felt and looked so regal I immediately thought that if I could get this piece shipped in time I could create a look honoring the late Andre Leon Talley.
How did you get started in fashion?
I grew up in Paris, France and eventually went to high school in the States. I've always been infatuated with fashion, not only menswear, but just the applied art of fashion, the expression. And I've always known the power of watching pop culture. And I always was a fan of the marriage between the celebrity and fashion and what it really does. I'd sit on my Dell computer at home and isolate myself a lot and just read up on John Galliano at Dior and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton.
I tried college at a fashion school. I didn't finish it because I just felt like you can't really learn fashion, or the applied art from just books. I went back home and set my mind on what I wanted. And with a connection I was introduced to this little atelier of menswear where I started, and I was educated on creating custom suiting, measurements and proportions and understanding the men's silhouette. And from that point of view, a lot of older men wanted my young aesthetic. And I said, well, let me give styling a chance.
How did you first connect with Steve?
I initially met Mr. Harvey when I was about 20 years old because I was very close with his family, actually best friends with Lori and Wynton. And within these years I knew Mr. Harvey, but he just knew me as a kid. And eventually he'd see me grow up in the world of fashion. I started styling different entertainers and athletes, and that's when he really validated my skills.
In 2019, he bought the rights for Family Feud and started Family Feud Africa — South Africa, specifically — and his wife contacted me and asked me two questions. The first was, If you were offered the job to style my husband, would you take it? I said, yes, of course. And then the second proposal was, Would you be able to come to Africa tonight? I have a job, I have obligations, but I have one choice to make right now on the phone. And I took the choice. It was a leap of faith and it opened a lot of doors for me.
You've been working with Steve since 2019 but last year is when people seemed to really take notice of his new look. How did that process come together?
I think last year was kind of the year where we've already went through our visual disagreements about his style aesthetic. When I started styling Steve Harvey, it was a full assignment because a lot of people had their own opinions and a full picture of what Steve Harvey should look like or does look like. And I just wanted to take that off. My goal was to always make him a fashion icon in my own right. Last year we already went through removing the pocket squares, wearing sneakers with suits, wearing turtlenecks, kind of stepping away from just one suit on every production that he owns and showing diversity.
I wanted to recondition society's mindset on what style should be at a certain age, like should you be modest as you age, or should you just be disruptive and become ageless? I feel like the recognition of last year was because people felt the look, they felt the interaction between two visions. I put the looks together, but I love for him to edit so it still looks like him and he can still carry the swag. I put a lot of dedication and a French aesthetic. And I feel like he adds a little sprinkle of gangster on top of my sophistication, you know?
How would you describe your journey in fashion up until this point?
I feel like after three years of styling Mr. Harvey, the doors are finally opening for me. I'm finally getting, not only recognition, but respect from fashion houses. We are very close with the Dolce family, the Fendi family, we just established a new relationship with Balenciaga couture. We're very, very, very close with Berluti, Tom Ford, just the guys that I have always aspired to being in conversation with. It's the validation that I needed for myself as a fashion stylist.
Photos via Instagram/ @elly30
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