He is one of Nigeria’s top celebrity stylists and the Editor in Chief of Mania Magazine. Dimeji Alara gives Bellanaija.com an insight on what it means to be a stylist and his opinion on Nigeria’s fashion industry.
Zainab Alhassan: So how does one become a stylist?
Dimeji Alara: There is more than one way to become a stylist. Whatever you decide to do in life is always a matter of choice and passion. You should also be ready to sacrifice a lot.
ZA: What did you study in university?
DA: I studied fashion, The Business of Fashion.
ZA: How was it like growing up and being a guy interested in fashion?
DA: I grew up in the city of fashion, Paris. My mum studied fashion, my dad loved fashion too, so I guess I was not in a strange environment to grow up loving fashion. I would have looked strange to others if I did not like fashion, it is the other way round here.
ZA: Have you ever been stereotyped for being in the fashion industry?
DA: I get stereotyped everyday by people I do not even know. People judge you without even meeting you, but it is ok, it is just the way the world works, and I am not complaining. People have the right to have opinions on you. The public has a right to dissect you once you give yourself to them and when you are a public figure, you have given them the right to do whatever they want with you…they own you, or so they think.
ZA: How would you describe your style?
DA: I dress for comfort, and my style is very simple, though I try to go over the edge when I feel like, and I also get knocked down for that a lot but that is also ok.
ZA: What inspires your style?
DA: A lot of things determine what I wear, like the environment, the weather or how I feel.
ZA: What are the wardrobe must haves for this season?
DA: White shirts, white pants, comfy slippers and leather belts.
ZA: Is there something in your wardrobe that has passed through the test of time?
DA: A belt I have owned for over ten years, I still wear it.
ZA: What is your favorite stylish TV show?
DA: I love Absolutely Fabulous
ZA: What is your take on non-conformist style expression?
DA: I do not believe in conforming, whatever it is you do in life, being yourself will always work for you whether people like you or not.
ZA: What is the name of your styling company?
DA: It is called Styling Concept.
ZA: What sets you apart from other stylists? When I see one of your clients, how do I know that he/she has been styled by Dimeji Alara?
DA: Everyone is unique, and I think we are all different in terms of the way we style. My style is different and so is theirs.
ZA: Is there a profitable market for Stylists in Nigeria?
DA: I do not know about other stylists but for me, yes, there is a profitable market.
ZA: What is your take on Nigerian designers and their position in the global fashion industry?
DA: I think we are still yet to get to the core of what the industry is all about. I am waiting for the time when designers will get the business side of this industry. Fashion is serious business, not some form of entertainment. The global position of things determines what we wear and buy, so it is all connected.
ZA: How do you think the media; especially social networks have revolutionized Africa’s fashion industry?
DA: I think it has put us out there to the world, and now it is time for us to take full advantage that.
ZA: You are the Editor in Chief of Mania Magazine, what do you hope to achieve through this magazine?
DA: There are a lot of things I hope to achieve with Mania Magazine, one of which is to make people see fashion in a totally different way and make it a commercial avenue for designers and everyone involved in fashion. Everything has its challenges and of course there are people waiting for me to fail, but it is totally normal. Too bad, they will be disappointed.
ZA: Is it strictly a fashion magazine or a life style magazine?
DA: It has everything a woman needs; a woman’s life is beyond fashion.
ZA: You have worked at GQ, Elle and Glamour, are there any Nigerian fashion magazines that have the potential to be on the same level with these magazines, in the next 2 years?
DA: I think yes. Magazines are improving and the industry is changing.
ZA: What is your mantra?
DA: Nothing is impossible!