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7.12.13

Setting the Scene: Dupe Adebowale

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So about two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get a Skype interview with the talented, nineteen-year-old stylist and budding fashion designer, Modupe "Dupe" Adebowale. Unfortunately however, I've only just been able to post this due to technical difficulties (damn you, technology). But it's all good now so, on with the show!

Dupe was an absolute delight. Upbeat, humorous and easy-going, the interview was a laughter-filled breeze.

Whilst studying Business & Management in London, Dupe still finds time to blog at Styled by Dupe, offer her styling services and design some pretty awesome pieces, with heaps of ambition and fashion prowess for good measure.

Check out the interview below! I tried to stick as much to the recorded conversation as possible (minus some of the banter between questions) so it might be a little longer than my previous STS posts, but hopefully equally as enjoyable, if not more!

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What's the story behind Styled By Dupe?

Dupe: So I have this friend, Imade. She's basically the face of the blog. I used to have a Tumblr, but she used to bug me for having one; because tons of people did it, she just thought it was so unprofessional [laughs]. But that was the first time I knew blogs were used for fashion-- I mean, I just had a Tumblr because back then, it was cool to have one. She then made me delete all my Tumblr photos and stuff like that... but she still wasn't satisfied [laughs]. She started showing me some personal style blogs and she was like, "Try doing something like this." So I said, "Oh my goodness. I'm so busy, I don't have time..." which annoyed her so she just went ahead and made it herself. Then, she asked me what I wanted it to be called. We had a long BBM conversation with another friend of ours about what to call the blog and the layout and stuff and then... the blog came to be.


How do you juggle blogging and your school work?

Dupe: Very badly. School makes it so hard. Like, I don't actually know what's going on with my blog; I haven't blogged since the summer. Honestly, I just don't have time. I've very, very bad [laughs]. I mean, it's not all the time that the pressure's high at school. When I have free time, then I work on the blog but when I don't, well then, y'know, school takes priority.


When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer or a stylist--? I'm not actually sure what you're labelling it, sorry [laughs].

Dupe: Well, I want to be a stylist. I design every now, mostly because my friends make me. Like, if they've got events, especially if we're in Nigeria, then I design dresses for them. But it all started in Year Six, actually. A few friends and I decided we were gonna start a fashion label [laughs]. We did a few things together but then we all went to different secondary schools and kind of drifted apart. I still tried to design by myself, and that was when I realized, y'know, this just isn't for me. Like, trying to design one dress would take me hours and what I would come up with would be pretty basic so I was like, yeah this isn't for me. Then I started watching one TV show in the summer of Year Seven and that was actually when I learned what stylists were. Like, I didn't know people would actually pay to have someone tell them how to dress. And right then, I knew that was what I wanted to do.


Do you remember what the first piece you ever designed was that you had sewn and saw through to completion?

Dupe: I'm not actually sure. I mean, you know how when you're younger and you have all these parties in Nigeria, sometimes you get to design your own outfit [laughs]... Actually no, strictly speaking, I would say Prom of Year Eleven, because I designed two of my friends' prom dresses, which was cool... Oh and one of them ended up winning Best Dressed actually; that was good.


So I have to ask. The newspaper/bin bag dresses [laughs]. I mean, I think they're gorgeous but I'm curious as to what inspired them.

Dupe: [laughs] My goodness. OK so I did my A-levels in Wales and basically, there was just nothing there. My school was in a little village and there was just nothing to do--

{we go off on a little tangent at this point, comparing her time in Wales with my stint in Cumbria for a while before getting back to the interview}

Dupe: Yeah, so a small village with nothing to do. It got to the point where, one day, as I waited for the bus to school, I saw the leaves on the floor and I was like, "Ooh I could make a dress out of leaves!" But then I thought, "oh, no that's very dirty" [laughs]. So I thought, bin bags. I called a friend and asked if she'd like to model for me, and she said, "OK, yeah, sure" because, y'know, we had nothing else to do. I popped down to Tesco and bought bin bags and foil and stuff, and then we met up. I didn't actually design the dresses down; I just kind of made it up as we went along. It took us the whole day. The only thing I did in preparation was a necklace and that took me ages. So it was all down to boredom, really [laughs].

The first Bin Bag project w/ Vikki
The second Bin Bag project w/ Imade

How long does it usually take you when you style someone?

Dupe: Not that long actually--[laughs]

{a hilarious detour as we laugh over a hair-related mishap #BlackGirlProblems}

Dupe: It doesn't usually take that long, unless it's a shoot. That usually takes a while, getting the clothes and everything ready. Styling people for the holidays or a particular season, that's a lot of outfits I need to put together so that takes much longer. But when I style someone for an event, in terms of knowing what I want them to wear, it doesn't take long at all. Sorting the actual clothes out could take a while though, especially when it comes to sizing and what they like or don't like.


What role does music play in your creative process?

Dupe: Hmm, I don't actually know. I'm always listening to music. Like, all the time. But I don't think the actual music influences my styling choices. Music videos, probably. I might think something looks nice or whatever... Although there was a time when I was obsessed with "dark" music. Well I say 'dark'; basically, Tyler the Creator. And whenever people asked me to dress them, I would lean more towards... weird clothes [laughs]. So I guess it does without me actually knowing.


Slightly vague question, I know; but what does fashion mean to you as a stylist?

Dupe: The cliche answer would be that it's a way to express yourself, blah-blah-blah. But to be honest, I think for some people, it actually is. I do a bit of street style photography for my blog, and I've met quite a lot of people that way. And sometimes I get to talk to people who, y'know dress a lot differently and when I ask them why, they always say it's just a way of expressing themselves.

For me, it's just about looking nice. Personally, I know that when I look really good, I feel really good. Even when there's a lot going on, like school or whatever. If I ever start feeling sad or stressed, I go out and buy a new outfit to make myself feel better. And I know it's crazy but I'm probably only gonna wear them in my room, but still I feel good about myself. It just makes me feel better. Plus, I know a lot of people work really hard and just don't have time to dress well and probably wear the same thing everyday because they've got so much going on, so I think it's just a way to reward yourself as well.


What experience do you have in the fashion industry?

Dupe: I interned at this magazine company, Elan in Nigeria back in 2009 [a fashion magazine that comes with the NEXT newspaper] and I read a lot of fashion marketing books because I find them interesting, but that's about it.


How would you describe your personal style?

Dupe: To be perfectly honest, I put in more of an effort dressing other people than I do with myself. Especially during prom season or Halloween and so on when I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me to style them, you'll just find me in a hoodie, like everyday. I know it's so bad because my ability to style is supposed to speak through me, and that is something I'm working on, but at the moment, I would say I have... no personal style [laughs].


How do street style and local trends influence your designs and your styling work?

Dupe: Street style is the rawest kind of fashion. It's not like, flipping through a magazine and wondering, "Would people actually wear that though?" With street style, this is what people actually are wearing. I mean, yes, I tend to stay away from trends because you don't want to end up looking like everyone else. But there are some things you can take away from street style because, if everyone's wearing it then you know everyone's going to like it. And if you're dressing someone, you want people to like how they look.

Like, last summer for instance, there was the whole obsession with creepers, disco pants and camouflage jackets, so it was important to make sure I did not dress my clients exactly like that, maybe just one or two pieces but that's it. And even when I don't like some street style trends, that influences me as well because then that's something I would try to avoid dressing people in or I would try to borrow some ideas from it.

But all in all, street style is very influential. I know this is going to sound creepy but sometimes I go to Camden and Brick Lane, and casually walk around just to get a feel for what people are wearing [laughs]. When I was in Wales, it was a different. I mean, looking back, I actually really loved my time there but in terms of style, there just wasn't much inspiration.


Who would you say has/have been your biggest style influence(s)?

Dupe: I wouldn't say they've influenced me personally, like I wouldn't go out of my way to dress like them, but they have inspired me when I style other people. First of all, Paloma Faith; I really, really like how she dresses. I just love when people have personal style; when you can see something in a store and go, "Oh, this is so you" and Paloma just stands out like that, with her hair, her make-up, everything. Also, Dita von Teese. Like, I just love her. I'm obsessed. Another person would be the Queen. I used to hate having to repeat clothes but then I saw that when the Queen wore something, she would maybe have her tailor renovate it a little but then she'd wear it again somewhere down the line. So I thought if the Queen can do it, so can I. Rihanna as well, funnily enough. I really like her don't-care-what-other-people-think attitude. There are some things I'd want to wear or dress people in that might not sit well with everybody, but then I'm like, "well, Rihanna wouldn't care, I won't care too."


Do you have any general rules when it comes to styling?

Dupe: I just try to not let what I like or what I'd wear influence me too much when I dress other people because everyone's different. And I wouldn't necessarily pick something out and go, "Oh this is ugly" and push it aside. I mean there are some outfits that people wear really well and some just don't. Tulip dresses, for instances. They work really well for some people who don't have curves because it gives the impression of hips and stuff. Some tulip dresses work for bigger people as well because if they've got a fuller chest as is the case most of the time, it balances out their body. But still, some tulip dresses don't really look like they would fit either one body type or the other, and some just don't look pretty period. But still it might look amazing once they put it on so I try to make sure I'm always open-minded. And I always make sure I don't go, "Oh I would never wear this, eww." I have to consider that whilst it might not look great on me or on someone else I might have seen it on, it could look amazing them.


What projects are you working on at the moment?

Dupe: Well I'm currently looking for a web designer to help me change the layout of the blog. I'm also getting into photography because shoots are expensive, and also I don't want to have to rely on other people. I would still hire professional photographers for my photo shoots, but if the photographer doesn't show up or lets me down in one way or the other, I'd like to be able to do it myself and do it well. I'm also trying to learn the fashion draping technique.

Where do you hope your talent for fashion will take you?

Dupe: Honestly, I just hope to one day become a world-renowned stylist.

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Fortunate enough to have friends who avidly support and encourage her (which is more than I can say), there's no doubt Dupe will soon start getting the recognition in the industry she deserves. If you would like to get in touch with Dupe, you can e-mail her at dupeadebowale@hotmail.co.uk. You can also follow her on Twitter (@StyledByDupe) and Instagram (@Dupe_Adebowale). Below you will find photos taken from her blog, and footage from a photo shoot she organized. There's no doubt, the girl's got mad skills.

Happy viewing!

Eva designed by Dupe (inspired by the Ikoyi Lekki bridge)
Coco by Dupe
Marcelle designed by Dupe
Alter Ego as styled by Dupe

Check out the behind-the-scenes footage from the Alter Ego shoot produced by XtraLarge Media Group (XMG) over one of my favourite Chiddy Bang tracks.



NOTE:  This post was completely non-sponsored. All views expressed by Dupe and me were each our own and completely unbiased.


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