By Jason Kwame
I chopped it up with one of the key players in Wizkid’s style evolution, Tee Dosumu. We spoke at length about his journey, his love for the styling process, and what it takes to work with Africa’s starboy.
When Wizkid returned from his hiatus late last year with the album “Made In Lagos”, it was clear he was on another level. Banger after banger, you could tell that sonically he was in his bag. He had found his sound, and a fully developed formula for hit-making. Most importantly, the visuals, interviews – Native Mag to Vogue – and Youtube live performances matched his new level of excellence. His style has become more impeccable than ever. Now, Starboy is experimenting with the leading designers in menswear to bring a new type of classy. He’s wearing international designers – from the UK’s JW Anderson and Wales Bonner, Dutch-African Daily Paper to French rising brand Casablanca and of course Italy’s Prada and Gucci. But, he does so in a way that reflects the creativity and flamboyance of Africa. He wears the clothes, the clothes don’t wear him. Wizkid is now establishing what it means to be a global superstar from Nigeria.
The creative ones behind the scenes definitely deserve their props too. One key player in Wizkid’s style team is Tee Dosumu, of Blac Ribbon Clothing. He’s behind some of Wiz’s most recent game changing looks – from the suave, all red outfit worn for his feature in Beyonce’s “Brown Skin Girl”, to the smooth and militant Gucci & Haider Ackermann fit for the “Essence” video featuring Tems. Not forgetting the relaxed Dolce & Gabbana set for the “Smile” video ft. H.E.R, along with dressing up Wizkid’s sons, who are casually wearing Balenciaga and Ralph Lauren for their cameo.
“First off, I must say I feel so honoured to be a part of a project as big as Brown Skin Girl, an award winning song. The funny part is I wasn’t on ground to physically style Wiz. So the music director shared the video vision with me and I had to get to work. Shout out to Gucci, they came through for us at the last minute. Wiz wore all Gucci in the video”
“The Native Mag shoot was also a project I was proud of as it was for the culture. I got to work alongside another talented stylist KK Obi. The whole issue was on Wiz […] they actually named it WizMag and covered everything you need to know about Wizkid from the beginning of his career to the making and release of his new album Made in Lagos. I was very pleased with how everything came together.”
“[But] I started working with Wizkid in 2017, when Future performed at the o2. Wiz needed a look from Gucci for his performance, so a friend introduced me to him and that’s how I started styling him.”
And Tee’s done the same for the likes of Davido also, as a stylist and personal shopper. It’s a pretty strong track record.
“My creative approach is always comfortable and stylish. The secret of great style is to feel good in what you wear. My clients always have to be comfortable in what they wear because then the confidence comes out. I believe style is something we all already possess. All we need to do is find it and make it work, which is what I live for.”
His beginnings in the industry are like a lot of us working in fashion. We start from our own appreciation of good clothes. It’s not surprising to hear a designer say they used to post clothes they liked on Tumblr or Blogspot. Even Virgil Abloh would post grailed items straight from his Blackberry to his tumblr page. Documenting is especially key in styling.
“I got into styling because of the love I have for fashion and always wanting to look stylish. Funny story […] I actually started off fashion blogging. I’d post once or twice a week then gradually I started offering personal shopping services, then styled family and friends and my first actual celebrity styling job for Reminisce (@iamreminisce) and from there things kicked off.”
Like they say, no man is an island. Tee joined forces with his right-hand man to help take Blac Ribbon to the next level. The story behind their meeting sounds a lot like something we as Africans have all experienced in the airport, on our way back home.
“Teaming up with Tilly was quite funny. So at this point I’d done a few jobs and added a few more celebrities to my client list. I needed to send some outfits across to Davido in Nigeria for a show. It couldn’t be sent via a courier service as it was urgent. So I went to the airport with a friend to risk it and look for someone travelling that night who can help take the items worth £10k. I approached a few people who obviously refused. Along comes Tilly and his sister, I approached him and – although reluctant at first – later agreed to help. I couldn’t thank him enough. Bearing in mind this was our first encounter so the trust wasn’t there and I couldn’t sleep that day till I confirmed the items had arrived safely and with Davido. When Tilly came back to London he pitched himself to me saying he’d like to be my assistant and would like to learn what I do and help as and when needed.” The rest is history.
Fast forward to today, the two are consistently on job, making sure the finished looks we see look effortless in music videos like “No Stress”. Tee gave a rundown of the stylist life from in store pick-ups to mood-boards:
“Day to Day styling for me is always hectic […and…] no day is the same. I like to be hands on the job, I believe no one can do it like I will even after giving full brief. For example, if there is a video shoot or a performance job I have to style and I have a good idea, the first thing I do is check online stores to see what is out there. If nothing fits my idea, I speak with my store connects to send me pictures of what they have available (you can imagine how many pictures I have on my phone!). Half of the time I still have to go into the stores myself just to make sure I have a full picture of what is out there. I don’t like to leave any stone unturned […] you’ll never know where you’ll find the perfect look. It could be on page 1 of 33 of an online store or page 33 of 33. I also send emails to Brands and PR teams. After all these, I go through an elimination process. I get the pieces I think will look best on the client, put them together in a mood-board and send it over to the client. After a look is agreed on and the client is happy, we have a fitting session where I make sure all looks fit and blend properly. That’s when I [then] go in and pair clothing items with accessories, shoes etc.”
It’s no small job. The work requires precision, attention to detail, a lot of planning and crucial decision-making. But surely it helps when your client knows what they want? We then talk about the thought process behind Wizkid’s style and how he chooses to dress. It’s obvious that he’s an artist that knows his brands and knows what he likes…Tee agrees:
“Wiz is a stylish person [already] and this is one of the reasons I like working with him. I’ll describe his new style as Grown and Sexy. Wiz is always very involved in his looks. I love it when a client knows what they want, it makes my job 10x easier and ironically harder at the same time! [laughs] …Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas and that pretty much sums up Wiz and I. Styling him is never straight forward but he gets my creative juice flowing. I love the challenge that comes with styling him both for shows/events and normal everyday shopping. We tend to go back and forth a lot before we actually come to a solid agreement. One thing about Wiz is he never settles until he’s 100% ok with the look and to be honest that is what being stylish is all about.”
And, I wondered, for those looking to get fly and stylish like Wiz…which brands should they start looking into? Tee looks at it differently each time, “In the words of Kenzo Takada, ‘Fashion is like eating, you shouldn’t stick to the same menu’. Fashion is about being trendy and dressing according to what’s popping but style is more about being yourself. You see with me it’s not always about the brand but the style. I work with all sorts of luxury and high street brands as long and it looks good and fits the brief. If you study and can define your client, then styling them becomes easier no matter what brand you put them in. I have a long list of brands I’ve worked with but the one I’m loving the most for Wiz at the moment is Bottega. Other brands include: Dior, Amiri, Casablanca, Chrome Heart, and MJB. Some up and coming brands too like Botter, Silpaclo, Seventeen, Xdreams, Stefan Cooke and Puma.
No doubt, stylists like Tee are integral to our culture right now, as visual representation is so important during these uncertain times. Artists have to present themselves the best way possible during remote award show & live stream performances. Fashion is one of the key ways for fans to still feel you as an artist. Wiz has the right guys to help him do just that.
“Stylists are extremely important because we are super humans. We bring visions to life. A lot of people want to wear fashion to look trendy but that’s not the goal, the goal is to look stylish not fashionable because as you know fashion fades but style remains forever. As a stylist my aim is always to help my client look the best version of themselves. The joy of dressing is an art and getting the right person to style you is priceless.”
Check out what Tee’s styling is really about in these recent looks…
Discover more from GUAP’s fashion section here