My Style: Marian Kihogo


Photo: Hannan Saleh — Courtesy of Marian Kihogo

Please describe your style in three words.

An emotive experience.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Dressing with preconceived notions.

Do you believe in role models?

I do but I think it cannot be enforced unto someone. It has to be an individual’s own personal choice. One they make consciously.

What are your favourite fabrics?

Silk, velvet, cupro, lace, chiffon, silk crêpe-jersey, lurex, lace, latex, wool, silk jacquard, lamé, neoprene, mohair, suede, plastic, silk cellophane etc.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

I think where true style exists, there are no binding fashion rules. The only thing I object to style-wise, is dressing to please anyone but you. That leads to a hollowness that is perhaps illustrated best by the individual who dresses exclusively to suit trends with no substance or foundation, such as any personal reflection.

Which city has the best-dressed women?

Anywhere where fearless women reside, is the city with the best-dressed women. This is because the best dressed woman is one with a keen knowledge of self, and who is thus confident enough to dress in a bid to reflect who she is.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

Bold in my style!

What are the rules, if any, in the way you dress?

The only rule by which I get dressed is following my mood and gut instinct.

Celebrities and style...

Have always gone hand-in-hand.

One garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

A scarf! I inherited my darling mother’s love of a scarf. Growing up I was fascinated by what she could do with one!

Who taught you what you know about style?

To be honest, my mother first and foremost. She taught me unconsciously and by example to be fearless in one’s self-expression. This was a woman who dressed to suit no one other than herself. She was always aware of trends, but many times way ahead of them because she had figured out who she was. She was simply dressing as a reflection of that self. As a little child I noticed that she marched to her own drum and didn’t really belong to any cliques or factions. I also noticed others who were intimidated by her confidence in expressing herself. There were those who were honest in their admiration of this ease she had in being herself, some tried to make her feel as insecure as they did, and the rest were just in awe of her. My mother has no idea I noticed how none of this affected her style, what she liked, how she wore it. All I know about style is primarily from her. The very makings of style, the fact that it is only true when it is a reflection of us and thus needs no approval to simply be, I learnt from my mother.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

I am guided by how I feel, a current headspace. It is truly an all-encompassing mood that is part mental, part emotive and very much gut instinct. Simply put, I have to wear what ‘I’m feeling.’

What is your biggest regret?

Having any regrets. Mistakes are essential for growth, learning, and perhaps the best education.

The three essential things a woman should know about style are...

It is innate. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion may help illustrate it and bring it to life but although often confused, they are two very different organisms altogether. Figure out who you are as a person and you will figure out your style.

We will never see you wearing...

Something just because it is supposedly in fashion. I like trends and in my work I am always aware of them, but the beauty of trends is when an individual is able to work them to suit their already existing personal style.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

She is not new, but one of the designers that I have enormous respect for is Ana Sekularac. I am continually inspired by the structure and architecture of her work. Even more important, her ability to capture the emotive in mere fabric and detail is a continual revelation. It is interesting how precise her balance of strong and fragile is.

Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?

Anyone who has cohesively reflected her personality through her style.

What is the first thing you notice on a woman?

Her confidence!

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

A scarf from my mother, an Ana Sekularac dress which was a Christmas gift from the designer, a vintage Lanvin dress that is threadbare but speaks of past happy moments, a gold necklace that was given to me by Genevieve Jones (designed by her), fabric from different parts of East Africa, a ring from the fine jewellery designer Wendy Brandes, tribal and silver bangles from a safari in Tanzania, a vintage Celine bag, textiles from Gambia, a silver cross I spent fifty pence on, vintage Prada shoes that were a gift from a friend, a pleated Alexander McQueen dress, a vintage Dior bag etc.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

Balenciaga as helmed by Nicolas Ghesquière.

One article of clothing that a woman needs to pay close attention to is...

Her underwear. I’m cheating a little as it is not technically one article of clothing but they need close attention. No point building a mansion on just sand. The foundation matters and the undergarments form them.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

I think this depends on one's perception of ‘comfort’. The word ‘comfort’ and the makings of it are pretty relative and thus mean different things to different people. Comfortable to one person may be old shapeless tracksuit bottoms that have been well worn in, whereas comfort to someone else (like me) means so beautifully made that it is almost like a comfortable second skin. In that regard, comfort is not an enemy of style. If it is comfortable but in keeping with an individual’s personal style it is a friend. Otherwise, if it is not for exercise or some similar active utility reason, it is a foe.

Who would you like to see next in €œMy Style€?

The rapper Theophilus London. Style-wise, he is doing something memorable.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

Be yourself, everyone else is taken. Why settle for being a poor imitation when you can be a wonderful original?

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