One on one with Annabel Onyango

Saturday December 17 2016

Fashion stylist Annabel Onyango opens up about

Fashion stylist Annabel Onyango opens up about her life and career. PHOTO| FILE 

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Q: Tell us more about yourself?

I am a fashion stylist, media personality, and store ( owner.

As a stylist you must be in love with fashion. What about it do you love most?

I love fashion and style for the same reason everyone else does – because it’s an expression of self.  As you evolve as a person, so does your sense of how to dress.

What are some basic things you try to achieve with every person you style?

I’m not a personal stylist so I rarely dress individuals any more. But my general rule of thumb is to keep things simple. There’s nothing I hate more than when people over- accessorise or wear too many disjointed elements and look like they’re trying too hard. My styling mantra is very much LESS IS MORE.

Your biggest career moment?

I’m lucky to say that I’ve had a lot of career highs. I can never do the same thing for too long, so my work has taken me many places. I recently received a double nomination for Best Fashion Stylist and Best Dressed Couple at the Abraynz Fashion & Style Awards held in Kampala this month, and I won the latter, which is my most recent achievement.

What item of clothing do you wear most often?

Because I don’t wear jeans, my leather pants are my everyday comfort wear.  I also wear a lot of black. The monotone quality of head-to-toe black makes you look dressed up even when you’re in casual clothes.

What’s your favourite label?

I’m not much into brand labels, I’m excited about looks that I collaborate on with Kenyan designers and tailors.

Clothes, bags, accessories or shoes, which do you have most of?

Aside from my wedding ring I don’t really wear jewellery. I don’t even wear earrings.  I also carry the same bags over and over. People might be surprised to know that I also don’t own a lot of clothes because my style is always evolving and I tend to throw out things that I think are out of style.  My ultimate sartorial goal is to only wear Kenyan-made one day.

What do you love wearing to work?

I wear leather pants most days with sneakers. I love Nike Airmax and Adidas Yeezy’s in neutral colours that you can match with anything including dresses and skirts.

Most treasured item in your closet is?

I have a fur coat (rabbit) that I bought last year that I love but obviously don’t get to wear very often in Nairobi. I’m also addicted to my sheer turtle necks (black of course).

Your beauty essentials?

I’m more of a fashion girl than a beauty girl, but I can’t live without my Neutrogena facial products, Vaseline, mattifying primer, and MAC lipsticks.

What would you not be caught wearing?

A weave/wig.

The up-and-coming designers you are most excited about are?

Locally I’m really into bridal designer Ogake Mosomi. Because I’m obsessed with neutral tones bridalwear is very attractive to me. Internationally I’m really into Rosie Assoulin, a New York-based fashion designer whose aesthetic is all about clean and simple lines that make a bold statement.

What can’t you travel without?

My pony hide carry-on (made in Kenya) and small container of Vaseline.

If your days had one extra hour what would you do?

I would sleep, or spend more time looking through interior design websites, which I love.

Who do you love styling, men or women?

Definitely men! Menswear is so undervalued.

Describe your style in three words.

Simple. Monochrome. Considered.

What are the biggest fashion mistakes you have witnessed?

There are so many - not wearing proper underwear, bad shoes, tacky fabrics, clothes that are too tight, showing too much skin… The list is endless. But generally it’s more productive to focus on what people are doing right over what they’re doing wrong. No one is perfect.

How does working in TV production differ from personal styling?

Oh, it’s night and day! Production styling has nothing to do with your personal opinion about how people should dress; it’s about executing a director’s vision for a project. Sometimes in production what you initially believe a look will turn out is an entirely different thing by the end.

Three people whose style you admire

It changes from day to day, but right now my choices are: Lapo Elkan (European menswear tailoring), Adele Déjak (Kenyan accessory designer and visual artist), Solange Knowles (US).

The fashion in Nairobi is…

Conservative… but growing.

Future plans?

I hope to keep working hard at what I do and inspiring people to do the same. I hope to continue to play a small part in making the Kenyan fashion industry viable. I hope to grow my family and still be able to work in this business that’s so much about image and appearance.