Oluwatosin Ogundadegbe is an award winning Lagos-based fashion consultant, fashion editor, stylist and creative architect behind one of the fast rising brands, TheStyleInfidel Studios. In this interview with Yemisi Okunlola, he shares his journey into styling and other achievements.
What does fashion and style mean to you?
Fashion is what everyone has access to; style is more innately possessed. For me, style is a form of self-expressive activism that allows you freedom to tell stories from within visually. It’s like wearing your heart out for the world to see.
Take us through your background?
I had my formative years in the ancient city of Ibadan where I grew up in a very close and conservative but contemporary environment at the same time. My Dad worked as a civil servant with Customs, my Mum worked as a Nurse at the University College Hospital, both as a civil servant. I Got into the university, but didn’t get the course of my choice. I was given philosophy instead of law. I was already done with school as at year one. I was totally done; I didn’t know what I was doing in school. You know we grew up in the age of when your parents told you what to do, when they told you you had to go to school, school is important but as at that first year I wasn’t aligning with purpose. But I still went ahead to do it. I was thinking after my first year I would probably cross over to law but I think my CGPA was maybe 1point (laughs) and my mates graduated in 2008, but I didn’t graduate until 2011 ‘cause I kept having extra years till I finally finished. I finished with a third class. Then I came to Lagos to do a couple of internship programmes until NYSC called. I served at Nigerian breweries in Ibadan and then when I was done, I think it was at that moment I knew I wasn’t cut out for the whole 9-5 thing. I knew I had to hustle for myself.
How was your growing up like?
Growing up was so much fun. I would not have asked for anything better. Yes, I didn’t get to have summer holidays in London, New York, Paris. But it was just the fact that I had an amazing time with siblings and friends living together. I mean we used to have our squabbles and all of that. To be honest I still watch cartoons till date, there are certain music and movies I still watch till date because it reminds me of growing up with my family. And it was everything I wanted. I don’t think I would have changed anything. My mum was the disciplinarian, and my dad was the one who spoilt us silly. But as we grew older, I don’t know if they planned it; there was a certain change in the roles. My Dad became a really strict person and my Mum became our meanest G. Even though she remained our meanest G, if you screwed up, you get that beating. But growing up was so much fun. I won’t even deny it. Probably one of the best times of my life was growing up- growing up with my siblings who I call my friends.
How did you dabble into styling?
I wasn’t a fashion person. I was that person who liked to look good, even if I was wearing my T-shirt, shorts and slippers; just like my signature style. My Dad was always telling us that we had to look good, dress nice and smell nice. So, I liked to look good, but it wasn’t a necessity for me; I just wanted to be comfortable, so my go to style was shirts, shorts and slippers. It was during my first extra year, during the holiday. I didn’t want to go home because people would start asking ‘what are you doing now? Are you not done?’ So, I just stayed back in school. I went to visit a friend of mine at Fajuyi hall at Obafemi Awolowo University. He is now a doctor- Dr Demilade Osoba. On getting to his room I saw them watching sex and the city, and I was like Oh my God! Porn! Something just said, sit down and watch because I had nothing to do. A lot of people had left school and I wasn’t really doing anything. So, I stayed back, watched 3 episodes, I was totally blown away. Patricia Field killed it. And I loved how she brought out the character of Carrie Bradshaw who is my ultimate style icon and one of my greatest inspiration, and that was played by Sarah Jessica Parker. I tried doing a style shoot. I got a couple of younger friends in school; I had to work with their wardrobe. Full House photography was the person who shot it. Then there was no Instagram, it was just Facebook. So, once the images came out, I started posting up on Facebook and I was getting good responses. it sort of encouraged me to get into it. But I didn’t always start out as a stylist. A friend of mine recommended me to Latasha Ngwube of Thisday style back then to be part of the intern for Arise Fashion Week in Lagos. So, I started out as a writer not as a stylist. Even though I knew a couple of things about styling, I started out as a writer. I was writing fashion. I was interning. I interned, I became an assistant, then I got a full time job for Olisa.tv for about 3-4 years and styling came along the line.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by everything, anything and anyone. I obviously love Carrie Bradshaw, I love Yohji Yamamoto, I love Vivienne Westwood, I love Celine, I love Alexander McQueen, I love John Galliano. I basically just take my inspirations from different places but those are the key people that really inspire me a lot.
What do you love about being a stylist?
Being a stylist allows you freedom of expression. The type of freedom the society doesn’t give you. You get to express yourself in the most ardent way. Sometimes you like a challenge; you like to interpret; you like to go deeper. So it also allows you think. It’s not just putting clothes together because there is a certain mood you are trying to create. You are a creator. Let me tell you one of the nicest things I love being a stylist: you are a creator and it allows you freedom.
What is your biggest challenge being a stylist?
The biggest challenge about being a stylist is putting good work out there and making people see reasons why they need your services, while also evolving with time. You need to learn how to evolve. One of the reasons why it’s a challenge is because you have created your style, you have created how you execute your work, but the same way fashion actually moves is the same way you should also move and morph and trying different things. So, it’s being able to make yourself very flexible to try other things or create other things and tell your story in another style. Sometimes you are always too rigid to say this is how it has to be done. Yes, every stylist has their esthetic but also they say “job of a stylist is to know I should be able to morph, I should be able to evolve”. It is very important. At the beginning it’s a struggle because you are just starting out, you need to make people understand what you can do and why they need your services. Also, while negotiating deals with clients generally, some people would say, ‘Oh, is it just not to wear clothes?’ And to be honest, it’s a lot more than wearing clothes. So, how do you convince these people that it’s a lot more than putting clothes together. So, these are the key challenges.
In your opinion, which celebrity has a flawless style locally and internationally?
We can’t really say someone has a flawless style. I mean some days you get it, some days you don’t get it. Let’s be very honest; there are different aspects of styling. You could have the ones that are good for music videos, you have stylists that are good for commercials, and you have stylists that are good for movie sets or television. You have stylists that are good with editorials at the same time. So they are all different things. At home here, for videos I love Angelic Touch. He has already carved a niche and a name for himself in such a way that he owns that space. For Television I love Yolanda Okereke. Yolanda is very popular with Nollywood. She has done most of the big movies, she has done King Of Boys, Wedding Planner 1&2. She has major movies to her belt. For red carpets, there are two names I like, and I will tell you why. I like Yumi; I think Yumi has mastered the art of red carpet styling and she is really good at it. And there is also a new name I feel people should really get to know. His name is Seun Olopade with the name Styled by Seun. I was having a conversation with some friends of mine, I was telling them how much I love his work and how much I have seen him grown. For Editorials generally, I love Daniel Obasi. I love how he tries to do his activism with styling which I feel is very genius. On the international scene, obviously I have my phase. I love Luxury Law; I think he has been able to do a lot with Celine Dion, Zendaya, Ariana Grande; he’s been able to do flawless with them and he is one person I know that has been very consistent, I doubt if there are off days. I love Luxury Law a lot. I don’t really know much about Tv, but if we are to look at Tv, I think I like Patricia Field who styled Sex And The City. For editorials and all of that, I love Carline Cerf, I love Grace Corddington, Carrine Roitfield, and love Edward Enninful.
What are your fashion trends for the season?
Trends, just like Anna Wintour would say, is such a dirty word. To be honest, I’m not a fan of trends. Yes, I know Nigerians actually like the idea of trends, what’s new and all that but also at the same time I think the bulk of Nigerians just want to look good, just want to wear nice clothes, just want to look really presentable, just want to stand out. So, I’m not really a trend person. I really don’t look out for it. Yes, maybe with colours and all of that I think I can say okay, I am really into colours. But when it comes to trend generally, just wear you, do you at and the end of the day fashion would be alright.
What are your fashion don’ts?
I really don’t have any fashion don’ts. The most important thing is, I don’t think I have fashion don’ts. For me, it’s important that you look good and smell good. It’s total distaste if you don’t look good and you smell bad. Comfort is important. Be comfortable in what you wear and please don’t forget to smell nice.
What makes you stand out?
My approach to telling my stories and my personal style makes me stand out. The way I reach and tell my personal stories and interpret verse given to me is totally anti-known. So, I think how I tell my stories and how I dress and present myself to people is basically what stands me out.
Who are the celebrities you have worked for?
I have worked with quite a number of high fliers like Rita Dominic, Bolanle Olukanni, Adesua Etomi Wellington, Kate Henshaw, Joseph Benjamin, Tope Otedola, Linda Ejiofor, Jennifer Obayunwana, Love from Julez, Joseph Benjamin, Falz, Waje, Timini Egbuson, Tobi Bakare, Wande Coal for his Ballers Video and The Royal family of Ile-Ife.
What advice do you have to aspiring stylists?
My advice to aspiring stylists is that they be themselves. They should trust their own journey, trust their own story and try as much as possible to think outside of the box.
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