Meet Rachel Johnson, Rachel makes a living dressing all of your favorite athletes:
When Rachel Johnson speaks, the world’s tallest millionaires listen—even if the 37-year-old stylist is telling them something they don’t want to hear.
“Absolutely without question, I put them in their place,” says Johnson of her clients, who include NBA superstars LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and Chris Paul. Last September, as New Yorkers were tripping over themselves to welcome Stoudemire when he signed a $100 million contract with the Knicks, Johnson was working on another acquisition: Stoudemire’s ensemble for Fashion Week.
After all, he was to be the guest of Vogue editrix Anna Wintour at the Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For his designer debut, Johnson dressed him in a dashing baby blue slim-fit Tom Ford suit. She recalls the moment while sipping a flute of rosé at the bar of the Four Seasons in Midtown. “He did not want to wear this suit. It was a departure from anything he had worn before, but he was invited by Anna Wintour to sit front row at Fashion Week after only being [in New York] six weeks. He needed to make a splash!” Johnson says, extending her arms enthusiastically.
But it was her father’s love of sports that inspired her to connect the fluidity of clothing with the movement on courts and fields.
“I was always a tomboy in that way. You see how tall I am,” exclaims Johnson as she stretches her 6-foot frame, revealing an impressive wingspan and sinewy arms.
“I played street football and could jump higher than the boys. As long as I could catch that ball, I was good,” she says. Ironically, the limber beauty never played basketball—or any organized sports, for that matter.
Johnson graduated from Florida A&M with a teaching degree, but entered the working world with an admin gig at Essence, where she fell into a social crowd of stylists who worked with musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Usher. For eight months she tirelessly pitched sports agents, trying to convince them she was a necessary component in the life and style of a ball player. It wasn’t until 2005, when Johnson strolled past Jay-Z’s office at Def Jam that the two worlds finally connected. Jay-Z was meeting with LeBron James’ manager, Maverick Carter, to discuss a stylist for the hoops prodigy and called Johnson in.
“[Jay-Z] was like, ‘I want to introduce you to someone,’” Johnson recalls. “He’s like, ‘This is the stylist you need.’ It’s all who you know—and he was that stamp of approval.”
A few months after James brought Johnson into his coterie, NBA commissioner David Stern enforced a business-casual dress code for all league players—giving her business plan an unexpected boost.
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