Styling Q&A with Kemi Olaofe: Part II
In the second part of this spotlight interview on fashion and styling, Londoner Kemi Olaofe of Monsieur Man describes what a stylist does and why you should never get your girlfriend (or mum!) to pick your clothes!
So, Kemi, what does a stylist do?
Well, a fashion stylist spends most of his or her time planning and coordinating outfits for their client. At Monsieur Man, we pride ourselves on providing a truly bespoke personal service. The aim is to holistically harmonise your image to your personal or professional goals. We don't just look at one aspect of your life, we look at everything.
My clients tend to be ultra busy guys who are pressed for time, have a fear of shopping or have no idea on how to get out of their style rut. So once we have established where they need help, we undergo services such as image consulting, grooming, wardrobe detox, personal shopping experiences and, if necessary, etiquette workshops.
But can't I get my girlfriend/wife/sister/mum to choose my clothes and accessories?
If only it were that simple! On a serious note, someone who is that close to you is only going to style you in the way they want you to look, which won’t necessarily be the best thing for you. On the other hand a professional stylist has no emotional ties with you and sees things from a different objective.
The objective is to make their client achieve a style that is congruent to their goals and makes them look and feel the best they can. I styled a guy back in London who had just been appointed managing director for his company. As employees are seen to be an extension of a corporate brand, he had reached a point in his career where he had to re-affirm the trust and confidence of his co-workers.
His attitude and image had to be re-evaluated to fit his new role. So we underwent an image over-haul to match his current stage in life. The feedback he received was really positive and truly overwhelming. Needless to say, he gained a new found reputation in the company.
How do I know what style is right for me?
It's all about developing a 'style personality' or brand, which you should stay true to. Whether you guys realise it or not, your personality and your attitude towards your lifestyle, hobbies, cars and even the holidays you take all have an impact upon the clothing that you chose.
Basically your style personalities differentiate you from the next man, based on how you accessorise, use colours and your trend level. I break it down to four styles - classic, natural, romantic and dramatic.
Knowing your style personality helps you make more informed choices for different occasions and at the same time you can build an effective, versatile wardrobe that matches your goals. This is something I go into depth with my clients!
Fascinating! So how did you get into men's styling?
Oh, it was actually thanks to my placement year at university. We all had to find a company to work for and I was fortunate enough to land a job on London’s Jermyn Street at a bespoke shirting company owned by a lovely lady called Emma. She is actually still the only female in her specific field and a wonderful inspiration!
This is where I also learnt that when it comes to men’s styling, it’s us women who wear the trousers! [let’s out a mischievous laugh] So after university, where I studied fashion and textile management, I trained at a leading image consultancy firm for men and obtained my own private clients.
Thereafter I started working for Mr Porter. Being at Mr Porter for the launch was a great advantage as the team was relatively small allowing us to put our own stamp on things. I feel I have now found my niche within the men’s realm and I don’t really see myself going down the women’s wear route. Plus I shop for myself all the time, so it’s a nice change!
Who are your fashion influences?
I dress for myself. I do obviously follow trends and the hottest new designers. Although trends come and go every season and even though I am considered a ‘fashionista’, I’m not likely to follow each and every fashion ‘must have’. It might be anti-fashionista of me to say that, but I value my style personality more than I value a fly-by-night trend that may not even be suitable for my body type, personality or lifestyle. I tend to take my influences from everywhere, people who show great inspiration and natural stylish flair.
I guess my earliest memory like many girls, was playing dress up as a child in my mums wardrobe. My father’s sense of style was also something I remember vividly. His freshly pressed shirts and polished shoes were his way of presenting himself to the world in the best way possible. Having a sense of style then became extremely apparent to me.
Are there any hot fashion designers that we should look out for (in Hong Kong or from overseas)?
I recently discovered a really cool menswear designer from New York called Bespoken*. They are part Savile Row, part Rock n Roll. The two sets of brothers who founded the brand aim to create clothing for today’s modern man. They use the same level of fit and craftsmanship as the largely bygone bespoke era. You guys should defiantly check out their site, for some classic styles with a rock n roll twist.
Thank you so much, Kemi, for this fascinating insight into the world of styling! Before we wrap things up, if you have one message for us guys in Hong Kong to adhere to when it comes to fashion, what would it be?
Umm well, let me think! I’d say keep doing what you’re doing. Play around with colours, fabrics, accessories and styles. If they match your personality and are congruent to the image you want to portray - I’d say you pretty much have it covered…just make sure they are a great fit!