Haute Swank! - Interview with Olori "SWANK"
I've always thought that most Nigerians embodied a unique flair for fashion and clearly there's a pattern here... with the growing number of talented Nigerian fashion stylists and designers. Don't take my word for it, get to know Olori "SWANK"
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?
Olori SWANK: I have been in the industry only 1 year and 7 months. (…but I took a hiatus for 6 months in between that time.)
BEAUTYSCHOLLED! Wow, you’ve done quite a bit in that short period of time. When did you know you wanted to become a Stylist?
Olori SWANK: I actually started off with aspirations to model. I did a couple small jobs here and there; a national advertising campaign and some music videos (don't ask me which ones...LOL). Every time I would do a test shoot for my portfolio, the photographers would ask me to refer them to my stylist. When they would learn I styled myself they would always tell me to consider styling as a career. I was still in college (studying Psychology/Pre-Med) and I really knew nothing about the field of styling, so I never truly took them seriously. Then one day Mickey “MeMpHiTz” Wright, Jr. (V.P of A&R for Jive Records) told me he loved my personal style and wanted me to develop an image for a new artist he signed to Jive, Asia Cruise. It was all uphill from there. I kind of learned the business as I went along. So I guess, I never aspired to be a stylist. I was born a stylist and it just took a little while for me to realize it.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Other than your college degree, did you receive any formal education prior to launching your career?
Olori SWANK: Everything I know about being a fashion stylist (from the creative end to the business end) is self-taught through observation, research, and trial-and-error. I kind of like to think of it as an independent study course at your choice University.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Would you say that you have a niche, or is there anything particular that your clients or industry peers would say you're known for?
Olori SWANK: They know me as the edgy rebellious chick with the blue hair. I hate all things ‘appropriate’ and ‘predictable.’ For example, I don’t do ‘matching’ and I stray away for symmetry (ex. I may do 20 bangles on one arm and just a ring on the other hand). I also like to mix patterns, textures & feelings (ex. Shorts and a Sweater, Polka Dots & Plaid, Leather & Lace).
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What’s a typical working day like for you, if there is such thing as typical for you?
Olori SWANK: No two days in my entire career have ever been the same!!! It’s exciting but stressful at the same time. But that’s what makes it so great. I’ve pretty much broken it down into 4 major categories: prep days, shopping days, office days and travel days. Prep days involve production meetings with the director/photographer/producer/talent/etc, creative meetings, & garment edits. Shopping days entail pulling garments and shopping for the shoot or production. Office days consist of the business side of things. Planning for new shoots and new events, expense reports, etc. And travel days are pretty much what they are - - travel days. And most of y’all read my tweets from 30,000 feet in the air. J
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Can you share with our readers what a day is like on the set of a photo shoot?
Olori SWANK: uhhm. …upon arrival, the first thing I like to do is have a small chat with the photographer & the talent. Then my assistants and I unload the garments & set up our workspace. For me, it’s very important for things to be organized; so we set up the pieces (including shoes, accessories, etc) in a particular order. Then, I dress the talent in the first look. As the photog is shooting, I make small adjustments based on the angles. I am always looking in the camera (or monitor) to see how the look photographs. Even though it looks one way in the flesh, it might look totally different on film.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and stylists specifically?
Olori Swank: I'd say the biggest misconception about being a stylist is that it's an easy job & you just put a bunch of clothes together. It's actually more complex than that. Being a stylist requires a whole lot of research. You must not only be "in the know" on current trends, but you must follow the designers to predict what trends are upcoming. You attend shows to preview upcoming collections and you study magazines as if they are your school books. You must also build solid relationships with these designers and brands to elevate your status as a stylist. The more designers you can pull from, the better you are as a stylist. Also, being a stylist can be quite stressful. Trust me!
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! It seems that every up and coming stylist wants to work with celebrities. What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?
Olori SWANK: My greatest piece of advice would be to find someone doing it already & work under them as an assistant (or intern). …& network, network, network!
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! So what’s next for you? Any projects in the works that you can
share with the readers?
Olori SWANK: Hmmm. What’s next for Miss SWANK? …Well, I have a reality show launching in 2010. It’s called “The Adventures of Princess SWANK.” It’s going to give viewers an insight into the life of Princess Ivory (DTP Records Executive) and myself. I like to think of it as a visual diary of what it is like to work behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. I also have my lip gloss line that will be making its debut in 2010. I’ve decided to keep the name top secret for now. Furthermore, I have several fashion events that I will be launching beginning the first week in January. In addition to the aforementioned things, I plan on styling, styling, styling, staying ahead of the curve and growing my “SWANKdom.” Stay tuned…..
Olori, thanks for that insightful interview. For more information on Olori be sure to check out her website and her twitter.
Ciao for now... Class is dismissed!