“Celebrity stylist? That’s the first time I am hearing something like that,” I said to Maddy as we shook hands. “What do celebrity stylists do?” I asked Maddy, to which she responded that we have eleven hours or so to be traveling and she would tell all about it before we get to Accra.
She had joined the airplane and while looking around for her seat, she realized it was the one beside me. The silver braided girl was joining me! I had the window seat and she had the aisle seat.
I had come from New York where I had spent 24 hours touring. She had come from New York where she had transited from Jamaica.
From when she came into view, she looked to me like a model with silver braids and all. I would get to know afterwards from our 18 numbered seat in the South African Airways flight from Washington to Accra that Maddy Combarieu, who was returning from Jamaica where she had attended the Caribbean Fashion Week to style her client, Fuse ODG, works with models, but she is not one.
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She would tell me all about her fashion sense and her style business, why she chose to go into it although trained as a communications and PR person, what motivated her and how she is making a living out of her passion.
“A celebrity stylist is what the name suggests, a stylist who styles celebrities,” she started to explain her profession. Maddy said what she does is to give direction to her celebrity clients on style for their outings, video shoots, red carpet, etc.
She got into this business in 2013 when she set up the company she runs now Fashion Pilot, while still a master’s student in the UK. “Fashion pilot started in 2013 during my masters in international PR and global communication (focus on fashion) through a class assignment in Cardiff University,” she said. “My passion for fashion was so strong I did not have the patience to complete school before getting into it,l so I started.”
She said her mother who passed away in December last year was her main cheer leader and inspiration. “My mother (May her soul rest in peace) motivated me, I grew up in fashion, as she was a textile designer and always looking stylish. She always stepped out with her red lipstick intact and mascara on fleek,” she reminisced.
But who has she worked for and who are her current clients? “It is amazing: my previous clients are still my current Fuse ODG, Becca, Bisa Kdei, Mzbel Akwaboah, Sorakiss, Feli Nuna, Deiva Jorge and others,” said Maddy who told me the silver braids are her fashion identity.
“Manifest,” was her response to which Ghanaian celebrity she would like to work with. “His style is Afro punk. One of my favourite styles. “Look, I’ll definitely love to go on a fashion mission in making his style look doper than it is.”
Maddy runs her company from her home at East Legon in Accra where she lives with her husband Jonathan and two daughters. She says operating from home gives her the closeness she needs to keep an eye on the house and on her children, especially the 10 month old younger one. “I love my job, but I won’t let it come between me and my family any more than I would want it to,” said Maddy.
“The industry is developing pretty well compared to 10 years ago. Ghanaians love fashion and style more and more. However, I love that people are accepting and appreciating Ghana made clothing designs,” she noted about the state of Ghanaian fashion.