Why celebs need a little help
● Joan Rivers may be long gone but the celebrity fashion police in SA are on the beat and trolling hard. And it seems South African Music Award-winning singer Lady Zamar is firmly in their crosshairs.
First it was the peach jumpsuit with lace details that she wore to the live Miss SA finale, followed by the lacy blue jumpsuit she donned when she returned to Idols SA.
But when she teamed blue metallic heels with red knee-length socks over spandexlike tights and a tracksuit top, her critics were outraged, comparing her to a homeless person and calling for her stylist to be axed.
The Charlotte hitmaker, however, was having none of it. A defiant Lady Zamar, who styles herself, said she would continue to dress the way she wanted to and refused to compromise comfort for style.
But what separates a well-styled celeb from a style delinquent?
Stylist Kwanele Khonjelwayo, 31, who has worked on both seasons of The Voice SA, several of DStv’s award shows and is now styling fashionista TV host Lalla Hirayama for her show, Lalla Land, said not everyone saw value in paying a stylist.
“It’s very important to have a stylist; they are your link to the fashion industry. Many celebs don’t understand that it’s all in the finer details; it’s in the alterations that an outfit is a hit or a miss.
“Sadly, a lot of celebs don’t want to pay for a stylist, they expect it to be free. They say ‘I’ll tag you’, as if that pays the bills,” Khonjelwayo said.
Authenticity and understanding your body are essential, but self-expression doesn’t always work, she said. It only works for public figures such as radio and TV personality Somizi Mhlongo, who expresses his personality through his outfits.
Khonjelwayo said no matter how “crazy” Somizi’s clothing, it would always make sense because his larger-than-life personality meant he could get away with anything.
“As South Africans, we’re very judgmental; if something is different and we don’t see other people doing it then we don’t like it. At red-carpet events, everyone is in the same [type of] dress but internationally they try different things. South Africans don’t understand fashion,” Khonjelwayo said.
Another stylist, Lesego Kgosimolao, who has worked with Bonang Matheba, Lorna Maseko and Pearl Thusi, believes that in the age of social media, having a stylist curate a celebrity's brand and look is crucial.
“If you’re a singer or an actor, an outfit is the last thing you need to worry about … some of our celebs take their fashion very seriously, others are not concerned and only care about their talent — and that’s where their managers need to step in and handle that side of their brand,” Kgosimolao said.
Actress Nomzamo Mbatha told the Sunday Times she often relies on celebrity stylist Francois Louw for local and international events. She loves shopping online, Mbatha said, and found that physically going to a mall was a nightmare.
She believes having a stylist opened up a “wardrobe of possibilities” because it wasn’t practical for her to have a relationship with every designer — but a stylist could.
Mbatha is open to faux fur, feathers, lace and prints and said her only proviso is that she doesn’t want to look older than she is.
“The outfit is in the attitude, it’s about the feeling. If I own it I could be in a paper bag but, with the right attitude, it will work. I never want to look older than I am,” Mbatha said.
While Mbatha is happy to have fun with fashion, Umlazi-born singer Babes Wodumo wants to be a trendsetter.
The gqom singer has a stylist but puts most of her looks together herself.
“It’s important because the stylist gets to get you out of your comfort zone. He or she doesn't change you, but makes you look even more great so people can be able to see you in different styles and colours that embrace your personality,” said Wodumo.
When coming up with a look, she usually thought of what she hadn’t worn before and described what she envisioned during brainstorming sessions with her stylist, she said.
Never without a colourful weave and a brightly coloured lip, Wodumo is inspired by anyone she likes, never follows trends, sees herself as a trendsetter and has never felt she committed a fashion faux pas.
“As you’ve noticed, I love colours — which is why I have different kinds of coloured weaves ... and I have noticed now that women ain’t scared to express themselves with colours, which makes me happy. So, yes, I see myself as a woman who is setting the trend,” Wodumo said.
Another singer who is unapologetic about her style is Shekhinah, who said she used many different stylists for events because she was conscious about her overall package and unique brand.
“I’m still a work in progress, I’m still trying to figure out what works. But I don’t focus on my fashion, I focus on being clothed. I don’t mind that people comment that I’m always wearing stockings. When I’m ready I’ll let it go. I’m not opposed to negative feedback,” Shekhinah said.
It’s very important to have a stylist; they are your link to the fashion industry