International stylist, Veronica Ebie-Odeka, CEO of Vane-style, is anything but vain, despite her intimidating role call of celebrity clients. The social image consultant/personal shopper/andex model speaks with MILLICENT AREBUN ONUOHA about her passion for styling, celebrity fashion disasters and other matters
I was born in the United States and modelled for 10 years doing runway shows/catwalks in Los Angeles and New York. I was always into fashion, styling my dad and sisters. During the summers, I would act as a personal shopper for friends and family, collect money from them and help them pick out their wardrobe and key pieces. That’s how I knew, I definitely, wanted to become a stylist.
Helping my friends and family to pick out key fashion pieces to wear. The sense of satisfaction I feel when people call me and ask me questions on what to wear when they have a super date/event/travelling/meet-the-family-visit or photo shoot inspired me to become a stylist. I’m a fashion enthusiast and lover by nature and instinct. I have every copy of Vogue, Haper Bazaar, and online surfing fashion websites and blogs, trying to find out, what the latest trends are or what are the seasonal pieces. I found out that regardless of the money, this is definitely what I love and want to do.
What is styling to you?
Styling is something that gives me life. It is what I truly enjoy. Looking at the way the collections are made, how to pair the pieces together, how to make people feel beautiful and actually look immaculate as well. In a nutshell, styling is my passion.
With your flair for styling, why not designing?
With designing, it’s a whole different process. My creativity comes from being inspired, by seeing pieces(ready-made cloths), and visualizing how I would want them to look on people, as opposed to designing a proper collection. With designing, one has to have tailors, deal with fabric choice, and a whole host of other vast and varied process, while with styling, you are dealing with cloths that are already made. I feel my stronger point is in styling.
What made you decide to relocate from the US and set up shop in Nigeria?
I got married and my husband got a job here, so I decided since he was coming back to Nigeria, naturally I would too. Our Nigerian fashion industry is very young and fast growing and I realised that, if I wanted to do my part and carve a niche for myself, it would be best that if I started and grew alongside the industry. There is no other place to build your brand that in your country.
Being in Nigeria, there are a lot challenges, for instance, our fashion industry is quite young and still growing, so you have both new and established designers, having difficulty in giving out their cloths for a shoot, red carpet event or magazine spread. Most often, you need to establish good relationships with the designers before they are comfortable enough to lend out their cloths. There is also the unpredictable traffic challenge, which can eat into time and mess up shoot schedules, as you can have about 10 different designers locations to pick up cloths for a shoot.
Celebrity clients styled by you, both home and abroad?
I have styled and done lots of personal shopping for, Farrah Franklin who was part of Destiny child, Genevieve Nnaji, Mo Abudu, Tiwa Savage, Adora Oleh, Davido, Uti Nwachukwu, Waje, Yvonne Nelson, Dolapo Oni, Dakore, Ibinabo, the everyday woman and lots of others. My styling services are only for celebrities but for the everyday regular woman who need help with her wardrobe.
How much would it cost the everyday woman to hire your services?
Every price is based on consultation, so it depends on the budget of who is hiring my services. There is no specific fixed amount for my services.
How financially lucrative is styling industry in Nigeria?
Personally, it has been very favourable. At the same time, you have to be really hard working in order to make it in the industry. You have to live, breathe, and think fashion and styling day in and day out. Aligning yourself with key players and proper stylists, learning the industry/business properly, would ensure, you can have a good income from styling and find it very rewarding.
What’s your advice for the increasing fashion disasters trailing our fashionistas/celebrities on themed/red carpet events?
If you notice, a lot of the socialites and celebrities aboard have stylists that ensure they don’t go wrong in their fashion sense and /or let down their fans, friends or family in front of the fashion lenses. From Kim Kardashian everyday looks to Jennifer Lopez, they all have stylists. So it’s highly advisable to hire a stylist/image consultant/personal shopper for special events or for your everyday looks if your social status demands it.
Is it fair to always blame the stylist, for a celebrity style failures?
I think it is best to blame the person/celebrity because at the end of the day, I can’t force you to wear what I think looks best for the event or occasion. So you can’t blame the stylist but the person. There are several times, we tell a client, “don’t wear, these earrings or that shoe” but the client feels strongly about it and insists on wearing it. If the client is one who listens to his/her stylist and still get criticized all the time on their style, then it is the stylist’s fault.
Word of advice to emerging stylists
Never take no for an answer when it comes to making your dreams a reality. Determination, perseverance and diligence will get you there.
Fave fashion item?
I love accessories because I feel, it is a stylist best weapon. You can use accessories to completely change your outfits. You can make any ensemble go from drab to glam or feminine to boyish with the right accessories. I just love accessories be it costume, real or jewelled.
How many pieces of accessories do you have?
I don’t know exactly. I guess I have over 50 to 60 pieces of accessories. Earrings, cuffs, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and so on
What’s fashion to you?
Fashion to me is clothing, living, style, culture. It’s an art form, and a movement. It is something that never stops. It’s always evolving and I live and breathe it 24/7 everyday of my life, so fashion to me is a lifestyle.
What is the repeat fashion staple you can’t get enough off ?
The little black dress (LBD) because it is classic, timeless and ever evolving. It is something you can dress up, or down and basically make the most out of it. It’s a fashion lover wardrobe must-have staple.
Fave makeup brand?
Mac. It just works for me because I like my makeup to have a dark quality base and Mac beauty products does.