Decked out in her signature bold prints, fluoro lipstick, headwear, and, yes, a shot of electro pink, Marian Kihogo, the awe-inspiring fashion star, turned countless heads as she modeled four looks in the gritty streets in and around Brick Lane. "I have to wear what I'm feeling," she says, explaining that her emotions dictate her dress, even if that means changing outfits three times in a day (don't get her started on packing for a trip or planning her Fashion Week wardrobe). These days, the celebrity stylist and creative consultant is going through a "pink phase" that she can't quite explain — not that anyone's complaining.
Thanks to her killer bone structure and tall, statuesque frame, Kihogo calls to mind Grace Jones, though her fearless style is all her own. Throw in the fact that she's one of the kindest, most gracious people we've ever encountered, and it's safe to say that we left with quite the style crush.
Ready to be smitten? Click through to see Kihogo's electrifying style for yourself and delve into her encyclopaedic insight into the fashion industry.
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Photographed by Phill Taylor
Tell us a little about the work you do.
"I work as a celebrity personal stylist and creative consultant. As a stylist I dress celebrities for all their engagements, including the red carpet. There are the scheduled events, press calls, tours, etc. that require options. Then there are the last-minute engagements and events that come up that need to be catered to as well. It is good fun, a fine balancing act. I also consult with brands and digital media to help with cohesive branding by developing editorial content, cutting-edge imagery, effective social media, and so much more!"
Bespoke turban, PPQ dress and coat, Baum und Pferdgarten trousers, Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem heels, and necklaces from Genevieve Jones and Maria Francesca Pepe.
What does an average workday involve?
"There are no average days; each is an event in itself. Everything from a mix of styling appointments, PR showroom appointments, brand consultations, personal shopping for and with celebrity clients, business lunches, brunches, dinners, research, fitting appointments, etc."
What is a typical “Marian” outfit?
"A bold printed dress over a skirt or worn over a pair of printed pants, topped off with a sculptural jacket, architectural heels, and a headpiece of some sort — a turban or headwrap fashioned out of a printed scarf or a wide-brimmed hat), layered stacked pieces of strong jewellery, and some texture thrown into that mix!"
Any tips for mixing and matching prints?
"Yes! A great way to wear multiple prints is to approach it with a clever little knack. For example, always start with a hero print (the print that you are going to make the star of the outfit) and let the others (the supporting cast) complement the star lead.
One way of doing this easily is making sure the supporting prints are in a similar colour or complementary colour to the hero print. This is the print mix-and-match 101 class. When the palette is similar or complementary, the prints seem to instinctively seem less scary when placed alongside each other. The more one wears prints, the more one develops a knack for throwing them together. Confidence can breed intuition, and wearing clashing prints takes a certain amount of instinct. So experiment, experiment, and experiment to build confidence."
What’s your favourite piece of style advice?
"That there are no rules. Today’s fashion faux pas is tomorrow’s next big trend, so have fun with your clothes. It is only with experimentation that we can find out who we are style-wise. So don’t be afraid of making mistakes, see each one as that step taking you closer to an understanding of what DOES works for you."
How would you describe your personal style?
"An emotive-inspired experience and a reflection of a current headspace! A road crash of '70s inspiration, masculine tailoring, multi-layers, jolts of exuberant colour, texture, print, and a dash of rock 'n' roll and structure."
Helen Steele headscarf and leggings, Baum und Pferdgarten skirt and top, and Nicholas Kirkwood for Peter Pilotto heels.
What would you never, ever wear?
"Anything that did not feel like me. For me, it is impossible to wear anything that does not feel like an extension of me."
What 5 items can you not live without?
"1. My wrist wear! It is this amalgamation of cuffs, bangles, and bracelets that I’ve picked up along the way on my travels and throughout my work. Add my stacked mix of rings to that mix and that is my daily armour. I feel naked without it.
2. My Momo scarf. The extra large scarf was in a goodie bag at a Momo by Fati Asibeula show at LFW many seasons ago. It makes the perfect-sized head wrap!
3. A bold lip! I have quite a few great hues in rotation as worn dependent on mood.
4. A vintage Céline bag. In the style of a male briefcase, the leather is beautiful and weathered just right. It is great for running from appointment to appointment. It has become Marian’s IT bag!
5. Faux leather pants. I picked multiple pairs up at Topshop. They are the perfect cut and make for a great foundation base to my constant stream of layered outfits."
What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
"Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby! The Prada costumes, that soundtrack, the lead cast, the exciting era it is set in, and the novel it's based on by F. Scott Fitzgerald all are makings of a great film."
Where do you see yourself in five years?
"Still running around doing crazy stuff in five-inch heels! Trying to spend more time doing charity work whilst continuing to diversify my brand. Still suffering from wanderlust. Still enthusiastic about style and digital media."
Helen Steele dress and headscarf, Baum und Pferdgarten trousers, Jena Theo black dress, and Nicholas Kirkwood for Peter Pilotto heels.
You’re known for wearing a shock of lipstick. Any favourites?
"I adore Tom Ford for his lip colour (he happens to make my favourite perfume too — Black Orchid)! My favourites are Violet Fatale and Cherry Lush. The latter is the perfect pink-red. I’m a sucker for an orange pout and MAC, too. It is like wearing the equivalent of a bottle of Fanta on your lips. I have become addicted to Wanted by Ck One Color ever since Hung Vanngo (an official Ck One Color makeup artist) introduced me to it. He gave me a makeover at the launch of the makeup line and told me there was this lip colour that he knew would be perfect for me. Lo and behold, it was, and ever since, I’ve been consistently wanting Wanted!"
Any other beauty obsessions?
"Nail colour! Nail colour, like lip colour, is brilliant in that a new colour can feel like a mini makeover! For that, my go-to brand is usually Mavala, which is toxin-, paraben-, and chemical-free. They come in these adorable little bottles (women don’t always get to the bottom of the bottle of nail colour before it dries up, so this is clever!) and in a great range of colours. Their current summer collection, Chilli & Spice
, is named after all these fabulous destinations. I'm currently obsessing over Bali (the pink shade I’m wearing in the photos) amongst others!"
What designers do you love?
"The ones that tread the line of balance seamlessly. I am drawn to the work of designers who have a constant juxtaposition of strength and fragility, the sensual but structural, the feminine but masculine, odd but fantastically just right. It is always about a dual story, one that is so fine-tuned that it becomes a mono voice. I am an enthusiast of the work of Cristobal Balenciaga, the Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga era, Rei Kawakubo, and Duro Olowu for a wonderful '70s sensibility that is so exuberant and current but timeless. Olowu has a special knack for prints, cut, and texture. He is like the modern day Ossie Clarke. He knows what women want and he crafts truly beautiful clothes. Dries van Noten could be a painter. He is a master colourist.
I love Maria Francesca Pepe for jewellery as she does that strong and soft, feminine meets masculine juxtaposition incredibly well. I love the strength but feminine beauty of Wendy Brandes, who does fine jewellery. Also Halston by Roy Halston, he was just wonderful, absolutely wonderful. He knew how to make the pared-back and fuss-free still sensual. Tom Ford is the modern-day Halston. He can do no wrong in my eyes."
What style sites do you have bookmarked?
"Refinery29, of course! Nowness (incredible content), StyleLikeU.com, which celebrates and documents the makings and psychology behind innate style, Style.com, Tommy Ton’s Jak & Jil. Also iseeadifferentyou.tumblr.com
, which, as the name suggests, lends a new perspective to shooting in South Africa. IntoTheGloss is fantastic beauty-wise and I think style goes hand-in-hand with beauty. They need each other to get by. ShowStudio, Garagemag.com, and The Coveteur are addictive, Sea of Shoes is a wonderful blog in that Jane has a strong point of view, Net-A-Porter’s The Edit magazine is very good, JustOneEye.com is visually wonderful, and Shala Monroque’s blog, Shalasrabbithole.com, is magical for her way of pairing words and images."
Where do you tend to shop in London?
"Everywhere, nowhere, and anywhere. I never plan to shop; it is almost always on inspired impulse. I love everything from the high-end department stores to charity shops, boutiques, markets, the stores with mad hatter charm in the middle of no-man’s land, concept stores, vintage stores, etc. For me it's about stumbling upon a piece (I’ve been known to jump out of a car when I spot a piece in a window) I have chemistry with. That piece that is not only 'so me' but is also something I can see myself wearing in more than one way. It's the piece that fits right into my closet and I can repurpose over and over.
Baum und Pferdgarten headscarf and dress, pink PPQ dress, Theory trousers, and Preen for Aldo Rise heels.
How has coming from Ghana shaped your style?
"Through and through. My love of colour, print, and texture definitely is born from my heritage. Look closely at the psychology of my style and you see the saturated hues, rich culture, and the sights that make up my experience. The way I wear my headwear and my approach to how I put my clothes together are all heavily informed by where I have been and my story. I think our style can only be true if it is a reflection of who we are as people, where we have been, and the moments we have lived. So my style is an encapsulation of my West African heritage meets my assimilated Western experience."
What’s your earliest fashion memory?
"Watching my mother work wonders with accessories. She would do incredible things with scarves. She unconsciously taught me early on the power of accessories and how the right ones could take an outfit from blah to memorable."
What is your most prized possession?
"A vintage scarf that belonged to my mother. There is something so elegant but unapologetically joyful about it all at once."
What trend are you loving for Summer 2013?
"Too many to name! The bold stripes; the '60s mod dresses (so great for my layered aesthetic!); the electric bold colour (done fantastically by the likes of Chado Ralph Rucci, Oscar de la Renta, and Rag & Bone); the neo punk (really liked Vivienne Tam’s interpretation of it as paired with military referencing and masculine structure); and monochrome for adding interesting depth to print, colour, and texture."
What’s your take on diversity in fashion? Is it improving, or still behind the times?
"It is most definitely behind the times. I think sometimes it's scary that what should already be the norm is even an issue. I think when it gets to a point when it is no longer a discussion and there are as many models of asian, black, hispanic, middle eastern, etc. heritage as there is supply, then I think we will be where we need to be. Fashion tends to box everything into neat categories and trends; the varying waves of diversity more often than not is more gimmick, like a fickle trend that comes and goes to suit an era. That to me is
worrisome. Diversity, like style, is always current. It should not be a gimmick based on season."