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
*bbm whew face* so I’ve finally finished reading Barack Obama’s, Dreams from My Father after about 2 years. Don’t judge me, lol. It was my travel book, so I only read it in the airport or the plane, when I wasn’t sleep. It surprised me, how much our experiences with our fathers paralleled. No my mother is not white and no my father does not have 4 wives (not that there’s anything wrong with that…iKID). I’m speaking more so from our interactions, their influence and our struggle to find acceptance and answers.
Visiting Nigeria for the first time was both humbling and amazing. It’s difficult to fully express what the experience meant to me and how it changed my outlook on family, tradition, and culture. I was able to spend a few days in the capital, Abuja and my remaining weeks in Port Harcourt mixed with a day trip to Aba.
Now, I speak very little of my native tongue, Igbo, but thanks to friends and family I managed not to get ripped off too bad or get kidnapped. That coupled with my $1 haircut, and brief bout with the runs *thanks Imodium A-D* I’d say it was a great trip. Unfortunately, I did NOT see my father (this makes year 22 ) but I know his lessons and principles help guide my path, and the culture of Nigeria heavily influences my perspective on fashion.
Nigerians might be some of the flyest people I know…and I can say that speaking from first hand experience. *pops dashiki* As a stylist I’m not afraid to mix different patterns, colors, and textures. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Spending over two weeks in Nigeria only confirmed where I draw this inspiration. It’s from the children walking to primary school in their uniforms, from the older lady at the market selling stock fish in her traditional, from the young boys playing football, from the bride preparing for her nuptials searching intensely for her husband amongst the crowd and from the father walking with his family to church.
Check out the images below to get a glimpse into my journey and to understand how Nigeria planted the seeds of style in me. Enjoy.