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The Stylist

One thing I miss about my old creative life was discovering new talent to showcase. I’ve been in the house looking through images and thinking about how much I miss working with other creatives on fashion shoots. Building ideas, pulling looks, finding models is all really exciting and fun. Obviously right now is not the time to be doing that? But a funny opportunity came up and…

I had a shoot! Kind of.

I’ve been following this awesome stylist named Chi Ilochi (@igbohippie) because I love the colorful backdrops she poses against wearing outfits that exemplify thrift store chic. I’ve been dying to work with stylists and cos time designers so I took a chance and I asked her if she would be interested in styling with some vintage pieces from my etsy shop. After looking through everything, she settled on a 40s theme representing the more formal way that black women dressed during that era. She chose a pair of vintage 90s silk pants by Valerie Stevens, so of course I sent all of this:

Because I am what’s known as extra. I felt like these pieces together would be a good jumping off point for her idea. The rabbit fur jacket from 90s label Absolue Paris has a real 40s feel, and I think this type of plaid blouse would have been popular then. The blouse and the Anne Klein woven paper bag were pieces that I bought for inventory recently and hadn’t listed yet. I was really curious to see what Chi would do with this box of vintage slayage.

Here’s what happened:

Not bad.

She was also kind enough to answer a few questions about her burgeoning career, how she scouts locations, and ways to stay stylish on those zoom meetings. Get into it!

 I love how you bring the color and flavor of Pittsburgh into your styling. How do you find these amazing backdrops? 

Thank you so very much, that truly means a lot! It’s funny you ask, a lot of my inspiration for backdrops, various locations is inspired by Brooklyn and its murals and black artists. Oftentimes I find backdrops by accident, or I see something bright and bold while out and take a mental note that I’ll shoot there. I can honestly say it’s rarely planned but it’s always destined.

I read in an interview that you felt like an outcast growing up. Now that your fashion career is taking off, do you feel that your individualistic outlook is paying off? 

Absolutely! I’m a firm believer that any and everything we experience in this life is for a reason. And that reason may be to help ourselves as we grow, or help someone else from experience who may have experienced something similar. It’s safe to say that those feelings I felt during adolescence became the core of the inspiration for my style. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, but I see now that it was confirmation and there was a divine plan and purpose set in place for what I felt and experienced. I must say the thought of  “my fashion career taking off” makes me very nervous but I’ll just buckle up for the ride!

Do you feel pressure to sexualize your look or to conform to the current exaggerated body proportions that we’re seeing on social media and entertainment? 

Wow. Great question! Now that I think about it I’ve never felt any pressure to conform to the current exaggerated body proportions that we see today. I never let the pressure of the world take me out of my element. The world wants we black women to do that in literally every single aspect of our lives. I always have to remain true to myself above all else. If I want to serve a sexy, chic, casual, streetwear look I will, it all depends on how I feel and the kind of piece I’m styling. 

Chi Ilochi/Igbo Hippie wears vintage Valerie Stevens silk trousers from SEBMarketBK with her own items.

If I want to serve a sexy, chic, casual, streetwear look I will, it all depends on how I feel and the kind of piece I’m styling. 

Chi Ilochi, Igbo Hippie

You recently won Bombshell of the Week on Fashion Bomb Daily. What led you to compete for that and how is the visibility impacting you right now? 

Thank you! Fashion Bomb Daily nominated me for it after they highlighted me as “Bombshell of the Day”. I wasn’t expecting that at all! To be Bombshell of the Day was an honor considering the fact that it’s been a goal of mine since 2017. I figured why not go for “Bombshell of the Week”! Winning doesn’t take anything away from me or anyone else, and losing doesn’t make me less than. It was truly an honor all around I still can’t believe it!

How do you deal with quarantine stress and do you have any wfh/homeschooling styling tips to help our readers prep for those zoom sessions?

I’ve been handling it well I must say! I believe at some point humans need to be around other humans no matter how strong you are mentally. We thrive off of it. I’ve dealt with my stress and anxiety through prayer, reading, positive affirmations, walks, working out.

I recommend stylists listen to Brittany Diego’s Podcast “The Fashion School Dropout”, it’s AMAZING and very inspirational and informative. I also recommend stylists try virtual styling, virtual styling sessions, consultations, studying their field of styling, creating vision boards of what they want, who they want to work with, and how they envision themselves after this quarantine is over. It’s transformative and it works!

Chi Ilochi has been featured in The Stylette, The Northside Chronicle and Voyage Houston Magazine. Keep up with Chi Liochi’s adventures at @igbohippie.

Until next time!

Faith/SEBMarketBK