In Lagos for the recently concluded Lagos Fashion Week 2018 Autumn/Winter Presentations and ARISE Fashion Week 2018 shows was Mobolaji Dawodu, a Nigerian-American fashion stylist – best known for his position as Fashion Director at GQStyle. having styled Brad Pitt and Jared Leto to name a few.
BellaNaija Style Editor, Eki Ogunbor had the opportunity to interview Mobolaji between shows at ARISE Fashion Week at The Lagos Continental Hotel. Both fashion lovers met at a quiet spot just outside the fashion week hall for a quick chit-chat and here’s the 411 on Mobolaji Dawodu!
Most personalities have specific lifestyle loves they can’t live without (hence BN Style has a Lifestyle Loves column) but Mobolaji is a break from the norm. When I [Eki Ogunbor] asked him about his lifestyle loves, favourite places to eat, travel and others, he described himself as a “free faller”, something I think we all need to be at some stage in life. How can you really live, laugh, love and learn if you limit yourself to your safe zones?
I’m a free faller. Sometimes I don’t do anything, sometimes I do whatever. Today, my driver just took me to The Place [restaurant] to get some food because I can’t spend money on the same food [all the time]. I’m not a lifestyle lover, I don’t eat at one specific place. When people ask me my favourite restaurant I’m like “the Carribean restaurant up the road from my house”, so I don’t think I’m that person. I don’t give the people what they want, I’m easy.
But when it comes to music, Naija does it best for him! He’s totally loving the Nigerian music scene right now and has been for the past couple of years. From Fela with the classics to Wizkid’s new wave.
Nigerian music is dominating sh** right now, it’s unbelievable! For me I would say since 2015 it just went hard. I was in Uganda and it was crazy. Nigerian music is dominating [there]. It’s at the top of my list and has been for the last few years. It’s Nigerian music and everything else at the moment; like hip-hop, I listen to a lot of old stuff, a lot of classics, Marvin Gaye but honestly right now, Nigerian music is dominating not because I’m a Nigerian or because I’m in Nigeria but Nigerian music is running the vibes in my opinion.
Describe your style in one word
When I asked about his favourite GQ Style cover to date it was like asking a father to pick a favourite child, Mobolaji couldn’t pick just one.
I like our new one with Oscar Isaac but you know what? I like them all differently. It’s crazy because I kinda like them all for a different thing. I think Jared Leto was a good one and then the Brad Pitt one, ASAP. I’m biased. Conor McGregor, everybody has a different vibe but I really like them all. I love working at GQ Style, it gives me a platform to express myself stylistically.
How did you get into fashion, has it always been something you wanted from childhood or you stumbled on it along the way.
No, I wouldn’t say so. I always knew that since I was a child – since I was about 4 or 5, I just felt like my whole thing wasn’t going to be the norm; whatever that means. I don’t know what that means exactly but I didn’t think it was going to lead a quiet life like my dad’s or my parents’ even though in some ways I am. I’ve always liked dressing well, I’ve always liked shoes but it wasn’t a thing like “oh I want to be in fashion” I mean at that stage you don’t know what that is really.
In the 80s no one knew what a stylist was, the general masses I know for a fact (even in the 90s) just didn’t know what a stylist was. It was the heyday, you see them and they dress [themselves] so glamorous. I liked style. I went away from home and I moved to New York and it was like the streets [of New York] took me, the vibe of New York took me when I was 18, the perfect time to be in NY and away from parents.
His favourite designer at fashion week in Lagos this season?
Kenneth, Kenneth Ize. I have to say it was my 3rd or 4th time seeing it but that’s the truth. I’ve seen a lot of cool things.
Are there any Nigerian celebrities you’re interested in styling?
I’m not really interested as such in styling any celebrity, I like to style people in general – celebrities or people on the street. There’s always someone I’m feeling a vibe from because people inspire me and everyone is inspired by things around them and people are one of the main things around you and you interact with them. This (ARISE Fashion Week) inspires me, I see someone in here who is stylish. There are celebrities I think are cool and have their own thing going on but it doesn’t operate like that to me, I just really like people and well tailored/well made clothing and how it fits the body.
In your words, what’s the future of African fashion and what can we do to improve?
The future of African fashion is right now, it’s happening right now and I think we should look at now. The future and now are quite connected but I think it’s about looking at now… I mean look where we are (Arise Fashion Week). I was at Lagos Fashion Week and it was a different thing but I think they’re both very necessary. They have two different agendas and their worth is different so it’s happening now.
Improve on timing and production actually. The clothes are there but the more you practice, the more you grow. The more you have a collection, the more there are shows, the more it happens, you get better at your craft, it’s like that with anything. So I think it needs production and for people to be on time. That’s a bigger conversation for Nigeria in general or Africa in general with “African Time”. There’s a beauty to laissez-faire but it’s also detrimental to how things function.
Any message for the BN Style reader?
Be yourself, be comfortable and keep it premium.
…Keep it premium, love it! Thanks for your time Mobolaji, and of course, I had to sneak a selfie in there 😄