The recently concluded maiden edition of Nigerian Idol was a major TV show! Everything about the TV talent show which was won by Yeka Onka was major” as Victoria Beckham and Rachel Zoe will say…everything, from the budget to the contestants. Stylist/Image & Wardrobe Consultant/ThisDay Style contributor, Veronica Ebie-Odeka of Vane Style was given the challenge of styling this show.
Based on reviews from viewers, Veronica and the Vane Style team excelled. Here on BN, Veronica shares her experience. For aspiring stylists or anyone who is simply curious, read and discover what happens behind the scenes.
Working as the wardrobe stylist on Nigerian Idol was an experience I will never forget. I have been a stylist for a few years but not for TV, which I soon came to realize is completely different from styling red-carpet appearances, and print work. I came aboard the show during the auditions in September as Yemisi “Misi Molu” Fajimolu‘s (the female host) stylist. Tapings for the show were twice a week; Thursdays for the live eviction and Fridays for the competition to air on Sundays.
Once a week I would bring several clothing options for her ranging from dresses to skirts and blouses as well as accessories and shoes. The outfits had to be very trendy yet not over the top or boring. I was also the stylist for the final thirteen contestants when the show broadcast started in January. Therefore, for three months, every week until the finale ended March 27th 2011, I would drive up to the Dream Studios in Ojodu where the show was being taped. I would discuss with each contestant their song of choice for the week, as well as the weekly theme. I would also go through a round of first fittings and then come back two days later to do a final fitting. After all the prep work, I would style them on the day of the show, this goes beyond clothing – shoes, accessories and generally creating the entire look. Even though two contestants were voted off weekly, I would still be required to style them because the evictees were not announced until the very last minute.
Styling in Nigeria is challenging as a whole because you don’t have the proper places to pull clothes from like department stores abroad, you have to rely on boutiques and designers who may or not be willing to lend their clothes to you. Also styling for TV presents another set of challenges because of the restrictions. When a client has a day event or red carpet and I can put them in a beautiful flowing gown; for TV it may not come across well on camera due to the lighting, like white can’t be worn against dark skin on TV – it often looks too plain or it strobes on camera. I had to work with colors that would complement them and still be dazzling on TV.
In addition, most of the female contestants clothes had to be almost knee length, basically “not too revealing” yet remain trendy and theme-based for that week. Weekly, I would pull about 35 to 40 pieces of clothing for all thirteen contestants (4 Male and 9 Female) whom all have different body shapes and proportions from being 5’2 and very petite to being 6’3 and muscular as well as their own ideas of what they wanted to wear!
I remember week two’s theme was ABBA (The iconic Swedish pop group) and the contestants were not happy with the clothing. Since Abba is from the 70/80s, the clothing had represent that and I had gone through first round of fittings. Option and option, nothing fit well for six out of the eleven contestants. I had to start all over again! Calling and sourcing clothes from anywhere I could including friends, designers and boutiques. All through this, I had to make sure every look was well coordinated and stayed true to the week’s theme. Meanwhile, I would have only 1 day to get back for the second round of fittings. On many days I was pulling out hair, crying and praying that it would work well for that week.
Another week, Misi’s choices which I had selected just weren’t working and I was out of options. I got the call that one of the contestants had been eliminated on Thursday, so I quickly made the decision to take her outfit apart and have it sewn to fit Misi at the last minute for taping the next day and it worked! When it came to shoes I borrowed, purchased and did whatever I could. Thankfully, most of time the shoes fit, but every once in a while, though the shoes would complement the outfit well and then the contestant would practice and complain they couldn’t dance or move in it, so I would have to look for alternatives.
There were many times I would put together a complete look which I and the contestant would totally love, then he/she would get to in front of the camera and the zip would break, outfit would look too loose or too tight, or they had choreography and the outfit didn’t allow much movement. So we would have to start all over again by taking it apart, making alterations, taping them or sewing them into the outfit all within a day and sometimes a few hours before the show taping.
Other times, during the first fitting for the week, I would be told what the song would be, get outfits for it, only to come back for the second fitting and be told they had changed the song! For example, the original song might have been a slow jam such as Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and this could change to a high tempo song like the Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling”. As you can imagine, the perfect floor-length beaded gown that fit perfectly had to be scraped to find a shorter sassier piece that still gave off the same effect for the chosen song. Of course, the dry-cleaning had to be done and the clothing had to be returned to the various boutiques and designer shops. Every time they wore an outfit I would pray it wouldn’t rip, tear, have holes, or have food/drink stains. Then the cycle started all over again! I would begin sourcing for clothing for the forthcoming week.
My favourite week was the “Nigerian Week” because this allowed me to be more creative in putting their looks together. Coincidentally, ARISE Magazine Fashion Week was also that week and many designers did not want to release clothes to me. Therefore, I had to have several of the outfits for the contestants made. For the first time in weeks it went together perfectly!
Overall, the show was a huge hit, and I am thankful for the broad experience it offered which allowed me to really dig deep each week and work under immense pressure but pull off wonderful looks that brought out the best in each contestant. Kudos to the remarkable Nigerian Idol production team, designers, boutiques, backstage glam squad and the talented contestants. My advice to aspiring stylists is to keep your cool under pressure. This makes all the difference in the world. Think on your feet and always have a Plan B!
Veronica’s blog – http://www.vane-style.blogspot.com/ for lots of styling tips and inspiration