Law Roach, Zerina Akers, Kollin Carter, Carlyne Cerf... we all know those famous stylists and their work from their a-list customers : Beyoncé, Zendaya, Cardi B and luxury brands such as Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger. Their job: create a look ! Not design clothes but think about a vision and put together different garments to build an image. They are image architects and we call them stylists.

In Senegal, a young and talented stylist that goes by "Papa Icerberg" is breaking boundaries and giving limitless possibilities to fashion even though going to a stylist is not our first reflex.

For this issue, we are celebrating and clapping for stylists by putting him on the cover and giving a litteral twist to what a stylist does with The Talking Jelaba.

Giving the idea that clothes speak for themselves, Papa Icerberg specifically chose words that would go on it to describe his creative process : "These words follow me constantly through my creative journey. They keep me going. They inspire me to always try.", he says. The words are :

Maatay/Tayu mako: I mean it/It is above me

Gorgorlu: Constantly aiming to do better

Jeem: Trying

Juum: Acceptance of mistakes

Defaat: Do again

How would you define your job as a stylist ?

For me styling is a form of self expression. It is a way for me to talk and express something. It is another alternative.

From a personal perspective, it is more than just a “job”. It is a way to constantly approach and interpret pieces. It is a way for me to be active and try things. It helps me to « poser des actions », to do, to « Jëff ». It is a complete process that goes beyond conceptualisation to using my hands. It is a result.

Why did you choose to style people ?

Now, styling became part of my tools when it comes to self expression. It just happened. I always surprise myself by doing creative works I never thought I would do, and each one completes the other, each one’s a branch that is linked to me.

Also, my need to express things (feelings, emotions,...) and the lack of finding words to voice them out always push me to find other alternatives to talk. And styling is one of them.

However, my work as a stylist doesn’t only consist of “styling people”… my process can lead me anywhere. I mean it is also possible for me to talk through other elements of life.

How do you think stylists can help in developing our fashion scene ?

Styling for me is a voice, a tool, even a platform. It can be a way of talking to people and spreading messages. One of its first missions is to anticipate trends based on movements, social phenomena and cultural events.

By giving a voice to the styling process, by re-interpreting the materials used for styling, by using them to tell stories, stylists can be active members and their impacts can go beyond the “fashion scene”.

Do you ever partner with designers to style fashion shows or campaigns ?

I did have the opportunity to style once for a fashion show and once for a campaign. Both were my first time. Joining designers to work on their creations is always an interesting experience I like being part of.

Who would you want to work with ?

I am interested in working with a large number and range of Artists. I'd love to expand and explore. To be honest, I'm excited for that but at the same time, not rushing for it to happen. I guess that takes time and has to happen in an organic and intentional way.

How challenging is it to be a stylist in Senegal ?

In my opinion, the challenges of doing any artistic or creative work in Senegal dwell somewhere else. It’s not challenging simply because of the lack of fashion events.

There’s a lot of creative and artistic challenges stylists go through.

When asked why people didn't really know about his work as a stylist, Papa Icerberg simply said : "I have no idea... I try not to introduce myself as only a stylist. I’d like to be able to try as many things as i can." and that is exactly one of the reasons why we clap for this amazing and creative soul.

Photo Cred : Diiakus (Ibrahima Diakhaté)