Meet the fashionistas behind Eliud Kipchoge’s GQ editorial shoot
RAPHAEL MUTUA and IAN AKECH is the dynamic duo behind styling the iconic shoots of your favourite personalities and celebrities. They were recently tipped as wardrobe assistants in the Eliud Kipchoge editorial shoot for GQ magazine. SPICE caught up with them
What do you consider style to you in today’s world?
We no longer have reservations about what influences how we dress. People now have access to a large pool of ideas and have the means to go out and express their state of mind and heart.
Style is fluid and in constant motion. One can now dress as a businessman from the 60s or as a West African princess if they simply feel like it and if it suits the occasion.
Who and what are some of your fashion influences?
Colour, clean cuts and symmetrical shapes in whatever canvas. It could literally be anything or anyone on the street.
Do you have stylish people you rate highly locally and globally?
Yes, we do. French fashionista Pierre Laurent has extremely clean looks. He always stands out despite their simplicity.
You have worked with some of the most notable personalities in Kenya including Sauti Sol, Octopizzo, Fena and Tanasha Donna. Whom did you have a memorable experience with and why?
Every experience is unique in terms of requirements and interactions. It is never a dull time with any of them.
When did styling morph into a profession from a hobby for you?
Top stylist Brian Babu called us up for a job that flung us into the world of styling and the rest is history.
Would you describe what you do as a skill or God-given talent?
Both, to be honest. You need to constantly hone your craft by working hard and practicing often.
This is the only way you can unlock your potential and become better than you are presently.
You were recently involved in a GQ magazine shoot with star marathoner Eliud Kipchoge. How did the deal fall on your laps and how was the experience?
We received a call from Ledama Sempele of Film Crew in Africa —with whom we’ve worked together a couple of times— who connected us to Derrick Kibisi of Talking Film Production, a Ugandan production company. This saw us travel to Eldoret as styling assistants for GQ fashion director and stylist Mobolaji.
We were blown away by the professionalism and the ease with which the whole shoot was conducted.
Everybody was at hand to ensure everything ran smoothly and it was certainly a great honour to work with Eliud. He’s such an incredible humble man.
Networking is key, but there has been banter about how the high-end wear can cost so much. What is the logic behind it?
Fashion and style is subjective. Some of these pieces have been worked on by top designers and were fresh off the runway. The price tag is reflective of their exclusive nature.
Could you name your top five local fashion brands or designers?
Monoxrome, Afrostreet Kollections, The Native Woman, Sao Satorial and Vivo Activewear in no particular order. These are best of the best.
How is it working with international designers in contrast to local ones?
We believe our designers and stylists are only limited by resources and it is only a matter of time and opportunity for them to show what they are made of. When that time comes, many won’t believe they were the same ones bumbling under.
What do you learn working in such projects with international brands such as GQ?
Time management and teamwork is key. We need to respect each other’s roles and play our own to the very best of our abilities, so that the end product is of excellent quality.
Can you vouch for a stylist career in Kenya equating to earning a decent living?
Most definitely. With hard work and resilience one can definitely live off styling as a career.