Issa Rae is one of Hollywood’s most powerful multi-hyphenates. The actor, comedian, writer and producer is a Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actor for Insecurethe HBO series she created, which ran from 2016 to 2021.
She’s graced the cover of Vanity Fair, made this year’s Time 100 as one of the world’s most influential people, and starred in BJ Novak’s recent comedy thriller. Revenge. His last series Rap shit! recently debuted on HBO MAX.
Now she’s collaborating with Delta Air Lines for a collaboration that debuted as part of Los Angeles Fashion Week last week. She hosted a parade of six up-and-coming fashion designers who showcased their latest wares at Hawthorne Municipal Airport (a small VIP airport in Los Angeles known for its fleet of private jets).
Rae, 37, chose these indie brands to feature in the hangar runway for their fashion-forward attitudes, practicality and stylish accents. It includes Oyster, clothing suitable for travel, and Ponto Footwear, which makes lightweight dress sneakers. Rae calls this limited edition collection Track Trackand all items are available through an online store hosted by Delta.
Rae tells penta why Paris is one of her favorite cities, staying comfortable on planes and supporting female fashion designers.
SLOPE : Whenever I travel, I just want to wear sweatpants and be comfortable. How to make travel fashion elegant? Issa Rae:
Ha. I rely on designers to do that. I’m not a designer myself, so for me it’s really a matter of comfort to express it. I really understand it. I’m physical in an airport, no matter how dressed I want to be, say, like in pajamas, I can’t do that. I try to dress how I feel, and how I want to feel, that makes me excited for the trip. So, with this current group of designers, they are on a mission to make travel essentials and accessories.
You did video interviews with every designer for Delta. I felt your passion come out when I interviewed the eyewear designers behind Ember Niche Eyewear. Why do you like them?
Yeah. They were fun. I love glasses. I really try to find small businesses in all areas that need exposure to take them to the next level. Their story was so interesting to me, and it was entirely a collaboration with Delta that helped me find designers to curate and figure out what I want to wear. What excites me? With Ember Niche Eyewear, they wanted to talk about their history, eyewear manufacturing, the whim trip to China, and the trips that impacted their innovation. Have glasses inspired by the countries they have visited. The story of each designer is really interesting.
Which city inspires your style the most?
Oh my god, I love traveling to Paris a lot, because of the café culture, and because the best writers have created some of the best novels and worked there, I always feel like it inspires me when I’m there. I thought about the Dark Renaissance of literature, and how badly that happened in Paris. There is so much history in Paris that I feel capable. I also love any place with a beach, so anything near water inspires me – any place where I can hear the waves. It makes me feel comfortable and at ease. I just went to St. Kitts and Nevis, and it was like, “I have to be back.”
Why did you want to host this Delta fashion show in an airport hangar?
I love the revival that LA Fashion Week is having, and being a part of it, having this in South LA is such a treat for us. By just collaborating with Delta and having them provide the travel element, and hosting it in an airport hangar, I think traditionally we think of certain places in Los Angeles, we consider it the entertainment capital , film and TV, and fashion and Hollywood and downtown LA, so being in South LA makes me feel good.
How important is it for you to support female fashion designers?
As a woman myself, I feel an air of comfort telling our stories. and I get a lot of joy to see us win. Seeing us on these kinds of platforms, both for our creators, and having women speaking for women, and design for women, is important, because no one knows us like we do. Oddly enough, the fashion industry is mostly centered around us, and there aren’t many top female designers getting the credit they deserve.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.