Style Consultant, Madame Modish Is Seeking To Empower Individuals Through Styling Knowledge
The Nigerian fashion industry has blossomed immensely over the years. Our art, culture and fashion are celebrated, the world over, with events like the Lagos Fashion Week becoming one of the most revered spectacles to behold. This growth has contributed to the increasing demand for not just designers but other professionals in the wide field of fashion, style consultants included.
With her inborn love for style and her desire to shine a spotlight on the importance of fashion, Damilola Oke, popularly known as Madame Modish, has gladly taken on the mantle of style consultant and forged a seven year (and counting) long path to becoming one of the most sought after professionals in her field. Now, she’s taken her role to boost the Nigerian fashion scene, a step further by creating “Modish Maxims”, a book that “serves as the rule book for general style knowledge” and gives individuals the “power to be stylish and establish the foundation [they] need to develop and hone [their] personal style”.
Madame Modish was always bound to find her place in the centre of the styling world. “I think that I was sort of born into fashion and style because my parents are very, very stylish” she says to me over a Zoom call. “They would combine intricate fabric and interesting colours and I grew up seeing that so I’ve never not known fashion. I just always saw the most beautiful combinations on my parents so that fed the kind of fashion that I grew into.”
She however didn’t realise that styling was something she wanted to do as a career until she got a job working at a fashion store in Scotland while studying for her masters degree in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. “Professionally, I think I knew that I wanted to do something fashion [related] during my masters… I was working at a fashion store and they moved me to the menswear section and I was upset because I was used to womenswear, being a woman, but I got there and fell in love with men’s fashion and I just thought [to myself] that I could actually be a style consultant and get paid for it.”
From that moment on, she never looked back as she forged her path in the world of styling, which led to the founding of her currently seven year old, style consulting, personal branding and image management firm, “Fierce and Modish.” As the head of her company, she’s created brand identities and styled clients in various industries including fashion, film, media and telecommunications and worked with companies such as British American Tobacco, Oriflame Sweden and GT Bank’s Ndani TV, just to name a few.
Her journey so far has definitely been a rewarding one but it certainly hasn’t been easy or smooth sailing. “It’s been very tough but it’s been one of growth” says Modish. “We’ve been growing in leaps and bounds and it’s also one that I’m proud of because seven years is not a joke, especially in Nigeria… In seven years, I’ve styled over 200 clients in various industries so I’m happy about where we are.”
One of the reasons she’s been able to establish such a successful career so far and differentiate her brand from her competition, is the level of importance she places on the role of strategy, which is undoubtedly the backbone of any business and its trajectory, regardless of the industry it operates in. “My Communications and PR background has hugely influenced my direction and my ways of executing my work in terms of fashion… I have been able to marry strategy with my work and I think it’s helped to differentiate me from other style consultants because I’m known for art” she says. “I feel like a lot of people who came before me were passionate but not strategic, they were not known for anything in particular and that’s a lack of strategy.”
“I wrote a book that has the basic, essential and advanced stages of style to help everyone.”
This bottleneck within the industry, coupled with her desire to help the younger generation of stylists, led Modish to start an annual seminar called “The Art and Business of Styling”. She’s convened the seminar every year, since its inception in 2017, with the goal to provide stylists with the industry insights and knowledge they need to not only create successful careers in the industry but also to maintain high standards of professionalism in the execution of their work. And she’s achieved good results with the seminar so far, “the people who attend these seminars have gone on to become major stylists in the industry” she says.
The progress Madame Modish has made with her work, considering all the highs and lows she’s encountered and the sweat and tears she’s put into perfecting her craft, is more than commendable but for the past few years, she’s had a bigger goal in mind. She desired to leave her imprint on the world and play a much bigger role in highlighting the “power of styling” and the national lockdown which resulted from the Covid-19 imposed social distancing requirements gave her the time she needed to do just this, hence, her style rule book, “Modish Maxims” was created.
“[It] was born out of the need to build a better fashion literate community” she says. “When Fierce and Modish was five years old, I started to feel uncomfortable about not putting something out but there was really no time to sit down and write a book, so when the lockdown came, I said to myself, “this is the time to write this book” and I sat down and wrote a book that has the basic, essential and advanced stages of style to help everyone.”
In addition to a number of passages and illustrations, focused on colours, skin tone, the use of accessories and more, the book also comprises fifty maxims, “commandments” as Modish puts it, which give readers the fundamentals and the necessary information they need to enhance their personal style. And the first and perhaps the most important maxim, according to her, is “Art Over Everything”. No matter what industry she’s working in or what client she’s styling or doing image consulting for, Modish always makes sure to implement her projects through an artistic lens. “I always try to be artistic in all of my jobs, no matter how small or how difficult it might seem. Art over everything is a rule I always apply.”
And this maxim ties into a wider purpose for her. She doesn’t “want to be known for trends or the celebrities [she styles] because they come and go.” Rather, her goal is to be known “for something beyond trends and times” – the art she creates through her work in styling. For Madame Modish, “being artistic means being timeless and being memorable”.
Featured image by Paul Mena