Allure Interview: 10 Mins With Ola- Oluwa Ebiti
Ola-Oluwa Ebiti is a Nigerian menswear stylist based in London. He holds a First Class in Fashion Communication from Northumbria University, United Kingdom.
His styling experience cuts across celebrities, magazines as well as commercials. He has styled the likes of star boy WizKid, Davido and Mr Ezei, Stormzy, Martin Garriex, Rejjie Snow etc.
His commercial Clients include: Selfridges, Mr. Porter, Harrods, Cerrutti, Orange Culture, Turnball & Assaer on Saville row.
He has also shot for international titles like the Sunday Times in London, The Telegraph weekend style magazine. ID, Nataal and Cactus in Milan.
Ola-Oluwa, boss of Ola’s Visuals Limited, was home recently and spoke to Allure on his exploits in fashion and style.
Styling belongs to one of those professions not highly regarded by Nigerian parents.
How did you find yourself in it and how did your parents react?
I have always enjoyed consuming fashion and culture from a young age. I would always ask my parents and my aunt to buy magazines for me whenever they travelled out of Nigeria. I still have all those stacks of magazine in my parents house today. But, it wasn’t until I was doing A-levels and after a year of studying Economic and Business, that I had the courage to tell my parents I wanted to pursue a fashion course for my university degree. My mother has always been very supportive of my interest in art and fashion. I think it was more of a surprise for my dad. But they were both receptive to the idea and came round quickly.
Has this always been your dream or you stumbled into it?
Well, it was really a dream to work for a magazine. Then that flourished into fashion, and eventually, through interning and assisting, it allowed me to forge my path. I started out interning like most people. My first internship was in the London office of the Nigerian magazine, FAB back then. I think I only lasted a few weeks before I moved on to Marie Claire Magazine, The Times London Newspaper (Fashion Desk), The Guardian Newspaper (Fashion Desk) before I worked at Wallpaper Magazine for about a year. After that, I went freelance-assisting other bigger stylists, and then, moved on to styling on my own.
What clothing line or designer readily provide the kind of outfits you like dressing your clients in?
I have numerous clients with vast range in style, particularly in Nigeria; Orange Culture and Kenneth Ize are my first choice. It also doesn’t hurt that they are good friends of mine. For womenswear, Iamisgo and Maki Oh always have really great contemporary pieces.
Having been home for a while and seen some of our local magazines, how would you rate the styling here?
I think the styling here has really great potentials; really strong ones as a matter of fact. But, I think it really needs someone with a fresh perspective on things, to help shake up the way we see things.
However, there are some really good stylists in Lagos. That said, I also think it’s important for Lagos as fashion capital, to consider what it wants to sell: as very creative hub for talent, or as a commercial fashion hub for sales and cheaper price appeal from the other cities.
We have many men here who belong to the A class, who can afford luxury but lacks sense of style. How would you introduce them to style?
Well, I would start by asking them who they would like to emulate clothing-wise, or what they like. This will help me gauge their taste level. Then, from there, I’ll start work adequately. If the client has a sick sense of style, we’ll start with basics he can wear often, that are can easily mix into his closet. From there I’ll start pushing him, and little by little, introduce few special pieces here and there. Ultimately, it depends on if the person really cares about how he looks, or if it’s just a means to an end for him.
Can you make a comparison between the Nigerian fashion scene and the rest of the world?
I think we have a lot of strong talents in Nigeria. I also think considering the struggles associated with being creative in Nigeria and challenges thrown at you, it is really remarkable that creatives find ways to prevail, and be equal contenders to other fashion cities which don’t have those struggles. I also believe there is so much untapped potential with our textile, craft and even the vision of narrative that can come out of Nigeria. We just need to do a good job of encouraging the Nigerian creatives to go out and seek these heights.
Celebrities can be fussy about how they look. What has your experience been like with them?
I think I have been really lucky to have worked with the best celebrities. I have never had any drama on my set or issues with a client. Most of the celebrities I work with, are usually very professional and polite on set. However, I think it is usually always in the context in which you meet them. For me, it’s usually very formal and professional.
How did you fare styling Wizkid and Davido?
I worked with Wizkid on a shoot for the cover of a British Magazine. I believe that was his first UK print Cover. I worked with Davido on his new music video which isn’t out as of the time of this interview. They were both great to work with. Both are calm, hard- working individuals. I must say I did enjoy working with Davido more only because we had a lot more in common, and he had a funny sense of humour.
Between a magazine shoot and a commercial, which do you enjoy working with more?
I enjoy working on magazine shoots because I love creating imagery. I am more of a creative bug, so I like all the research and prep that goes into building a character for the story of the shoot. Some commercials can be really exciting especially, when it with a brand that embraces freedom in vision like Orange culture and even Gucci who really pushes creative campaign ideas.
As an image consultant, style is everything. Between trend and classic, what brings on the swag for you?
I think I’m more drawn to the individual spirit when it comes to style because style is really how you see the world. So the way one person might wear a scarf is not the way another person might. So I really like those who bring a sense of their personality to their style.
Which one celebrity would you like to style and why?
Donald Glover because I think he really embodies my creative aesthetic. Plus, he is a very talented individual who is working on different creative medium, and doing it well. If I could go into the past, it would be Fela. He always had the best trousers, and both he and his dancers always looked terrific in their attires.
Have you incorporated the outfits of Nigerian designers in your work? Who are your favorites?
Yes, I incorporate a lot of Nigerian designers into my work. Not only Nigerian designers, but I often find modern ways to wear our traditional pieces.
By Jemi Ekunkunbor