Month: July, 2011
When I initially started blogging, I saw it as a vehicle to share my work, love of PORK bacon and all things red velvet. However, over the past year, I’ve witnessed the power of social media and giving my readers insight to my creative journey. When people believe in your work and see your passion, opportunities arise. So, when the director of the Washington, D.C., Mayor’s Office on African Affairs contacted me to create a fashion presentation for the 2nd Annual D.C. Africa Festival, I wasn’t surprised the referral came from one of my Twitter friends, @Lavender_Chic.
The festival’s goal is to educate people on issues pertinent to the African community, disseminate vital outreach materials and emphasize social entrepreneurship as a betterment tool for the African Diaspora. Additionally, the festival promotes the community’s positive legacy by highlighting Africa’s talent, resources and capability to compete in the global marketplace.
Increasingly, industry professionals have made efforts to merge authentic African techniques with high fashion. For the past few seasons, the tribal trend has been “en vogue” with inspirations from Africa leading the way. Designers such as Diane von Furstenburg, Ralph Lauren and Dries van Norten have all incorporated African fabrics or techniques into their lines.
As a Nigerian (Igbo Man*pounds fist to chest*) living in the DMV, I saw this as a vehicle to visually educate the community on the versatility of African and African-inspired fashion. Don’t worry; I made sure to leave the bamboo shoots and loin cloths at home. LOL iKID. iKID. The presentation was a voyage from traditional to contemporary and combined eastern and western culture. I pulled from Parfait Designs, Côté Minou and Zagodi Fashion with jewelry from Art Aya, Nanichi and LolaRo. Each of these designers helped me convey a fashion story through each look. Based on the feedback from the show, I know a few people will be adding a little bit of Africa to their wardrobes. #missionaccomplished
I always enjoy styling my family and friends for events and photo shoots. It’s a testament to my skill, and speaks volumes of my craft when the people that knew me as an industrial engineer want to hire me as a fashion stylist. So, when I received the call about a photo shoot last August from Sterling, my good friend/fraternity brother, I was more than ready to make this brother FLY-ER!
Sterling works for the government, or as we say in D.C., “gubment,” and is a fitness model/bodybuilder on the side. He wanted some updates to his portfolio, so he flew to Miami Labor Day weekend for a small vacation and lifestyle photo shoot. During the offseason, Sterling is at his leanest maintained by a very strict workout and diet regimen.
After a long day of shopping and fittings, I thought we would indulge in some fattening grub, however I was sadly mistaken. Sterling whipped out this Ziploc bag of yams and an UNSEASONED, UN-FRIED chicken breast, then proceeded to have “dinner.” *deep, bacon-filled sigh* While my mind respected his regimen, my stomach politely walked to Five Guys and scarfed down a real meal.
The shoot was photographed by Creative Hostel co-inhabitant, Cendino Teme. I picked locations throughout South Beach and Miami to reflect Sterling’s personality and diverse looks. We had a great time working together, and I know it will not be our last. This shoot demonstrated the difference in lifting weights vs. lifting strips of bacon. I may have picked up some tips on physical fitness, but Sterling learned a thing or two about fashion.” Enjoy!
P.S.: The cigar was only for effect; no judgment.
It is always a pleasure working with emerging recording artists. Not only are they purpose-driven and humble, but hungry. Often, that hunger and passion resonates throughout their sound and personality. The same can be said and much, much more about Nigerian/Sierra Leonean/Lebanese singer-songwriter, Di’Ja.
Last August, Di’Ja, born Hadiza Blell, reached out to me about styling and creative directing her next photo shoot. After listening to her hit single, Rock Steady, and reading her bio, I was excited to get to work with my first Nigerian-born starlet. *waves green & white flag* Di’Ja’s cultural background radiates through her unique sound as her music effortlessly merges pop, R&B and a hint of reggae. Like most Nigerians, Di’Ja is also degreed UP! She earned dual bachelor’s degrees with majors in psychology and biology, before pursuing what she knew to be her destiny: entertainment.
Her energy is infectious. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Di’Ja, you’ll know what I mean; people gravitate toward her as if they already know she’s a superstar. Once Di’Ja and I had our initial consultation, I knew I had to bring my ‘A’ game. The looks had to match her diversity in sound and culture without losing her as an artist. Di’Ja’s unique personality simply had to emanate through every look. I immediately enlisted the help of some amazing designers to bring my vision to life:
Dominique Auxilly: Look (1 &3), coral dress, and look (7), pewter dress.
Parfait Designs by Esosa: Look (4), unity skirt.
Delilah Johnson: Look (5), babydoll dress.
Artistic Aya: Look (5), paper earrings & bracelet and printed purse.
After pulling from designers, I went shopping to complete each look, and found great pieces from Betsey Johnson, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Steve Madden and ALDO. The mix of custom designs and off-the-rack pieces were the perfect fusion for the shoot.
As a fashion stylist, it is not only important to listen with your ears, but also with your eyes. Clients speak to you in many different forms and it’s your job to pick up on the minute details. Where possible, I infuse elements of my clients’ personal style. It provides them a fresh perspective on how to wear pieces in their current wardrobe. Using some of Di’Ja’s jewelry and shoes for this shoot ultimately helped her own each look.
The story below is what happens when an amazing team works with an even more amazing artist.
- Like Di’Ja’s Facebook Fan Page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/DiJa/184440925984
- Listen to her music on MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/musicdija
- Follow Di’Ja on Twitter - @aphroDIJA
- Download Di’Ja’s new single, Private Room on iTunes – http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/private-show-single/id435835147
“Well, well, well … fancy seeing you. I was beginning to think a creative professional no longer lived here.” This is what I imagined my blog would say if it could talk. Many moons ago, I asked you to join me on my creative journey. However, it’s difficult to be a passenger when I’m not walking, when access has been denied, or when I’m holding my talent hostage.
While in NYC a few weeks ago, enjoying fish, grits and my signature bacon, the topic of my blog came up. *bbm can’t watch face* As I devoured the last bit of @ellegee47′s grits and body rolled with @jovizi the conversation got real. *cues opening from MTV’s series, Diary* “You think you know … but you have no idea.”
My issue was two-fold. For months, I’d been working on some amazing projects with great teams. (Judging by the October date of my last post, you wouldn’t know.) I felt growth with every shoot and saw the depth and range of my portfolio increasing. As a fashion stylist, I was elated! Then I thought, “I’m going to wait until after this next shoot before I update my site and blog. No, no, wait … after I get THESE images back from THIS shoot, I’m going to post.” By the time I got a handle on everything, it was May. All I could do was shake my head. I had become paralyzed by perfection. #Shoutout to Tia Smith.
Secondly, the more I hustled to build a stronger portfolio, the more I compared my work to other fashion stylists who’d been in the industry for YEARS. I started to think my portfolio was not on par with those I admired. It had reached the point where I actually could not stand looking at my work. It was a vicious cycle.
After completely revamping my website (coming soon), I had to take step back and have a few conversations with my family from the Creative Hostel. They helped me put my artistry in perspective. You can never measure your success by that of others. Everyone has a different journey and ordered steps; you just have to be prepared to walk. Suddenly in the background, I heard a voice. Is that you Kirk Franklin?!?! Is the storm over now??? You sure, because I’m putting away my trench coat, umbrella and galoshes. I’m finally ready to release my talent from bondage.
In an earlier post, I discussed the goal of getting my work published and the pitfalls of chasing tear sheets. Well, a lot has happened since that post. My work has been featured in a several publications, with more on the way. *bbm party face* I want to share my very first tear sheet from the December issue of T&M Magazine. Shot by Joao Carlos in a penthouse on Miami’s South Beach, Perdida De Amor (Lost Love) delves into the soul of a woman whose husband has gone astray. I hope you enjoy viewing the images as much as I did styling them.
Special thanks to @lmoney21, @L10_MIA, @ellegee47, @HewbieMac, @carmtasticc, @Dino_Teme, @jovizi, @EUmphery & @ELLEvation.