Nina Ricci

Baltimore's Bishme Cromartie is runway-ready

Baltimore's Bishme Cromartie is runway-ready

Two years ago, a dejected Bishme Cromartie almost gave up sewing altogether. He had just received a rejection letter from the famed Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

"I just sat there and cried. You would have thought that someone died in my arms," the 21-year-old recalled. "I stopped sketching and sewing. ... I started questioning myself."

Cromartie had done everything right. A creative type, he earned A's and B's at Reginald F. Lewis High School in Hamilton. He had been designing since age 7, when his aunt showed him the basics. He would look at a design in a library book and, with no instruction, re-create it himself. He thought he had aced...