The Styling Guru
Strutting in her fabulous outfit, it was easy to catch the sensational Ghadir Al Agabany standing out at the City Center Fashion Bazaar. After her brief interview with TV personality Sherine Hamdy, we got to know her a little better and it made us hungry for more. Al Agabany gave us a few minutes of her time to open up about when she first got started, styling advice that made her climb up where she is today and what keeps her motivated.
When did you get started? How did this all begin?
That was more than twenty years ago! I was madly in love with the fashion industry and I had wanted to travel to Italy to study fashion design, but I was not able to because I was so young and my parents wouldn’t let me go all this way on my own. I went to the AUC and studied something completely different, but the passion persisted and I decided that I should still pursue working in the fashion industry. I realized I didn’t need to be a designer, I could work with the business as a whole. That’s when I started consulting emerging designers and small media enterprises; and then came the styling part of business. I trained people and instructed booming fashion businesses and fashion entrepreneurship on how to start their own business in the field. I do the fun part of the industry, which is the fashion shows, the shoots and the sessions. Of course, it’s all connected to my previous academic work which was marketing. I merged both; I’m a fashion marketeer. This is how it all went for the last twenty years.
What makes a stylist a good one?
Practice. Practice. Practice. This should also be paired with education, working in retail, with fashion designers and familiarising yourself with fashion shows. You also have to work in shops and gain experience with visual merchandise. You need to keep yourself updated on what is happening abroad and figure out how you can implement and adapt this to your business here locally, and so on. It needs a lot of work so that you can become beneficial to potential clients.
What are some common styling mistakes lots of people make?
I don’t call them mistakes, but some people need to understand the concept of body shape and its relation to styling. You shouldn’t aim to change the way your body is shaped, but you should invest in trying to find the best look that works with it. Think of it this way: two people could choose the same outfit that they saw on a mannequin or a window, and then one person puts it on and thinks, “Oh my God, this is very ugly,” while it looks perfectly fine on the other person. Some might think it’s the outfit itself that looks bad, but it’s usually not. It’s this outfit on that body that creates the problem. So if people just understand body shapes, they would be able to style themselves and it’d make their lives a lot easier.
Who are your style icons?
I like a lot of people because I work in the industry; the wilder you go, the more I’m impressed [laughs]. I can’t name just one. I’m in love with J-Lo, Beyonce and what they wear on stage. In Egypt, I love Sarah Taha, Sarab Abul Ella, and Dina shaker. Then again, they all work in the fashion industry so they go as crazy in styling as possible. That’s specifically what I like.
Do you have a trademark look?
I don’t. I never did. I like dressing up in different styles, I like different designers, I like to change. Sometimes I’m very classic, sometimes I’m very formal, and other times I lean towards something hippie or reminiscent of the eighties. It really depends on the mood, day, and where I’m going.
If you had to wear just one designer, who would it be?
Dina El Shaker. And abroad, Roberto Cavalli.
Is there something that you’d never wear?
Not that I recall of, honestly. I wear anything as long as it makes me feel comfortable. Please, don’t forget that. I don’t wear fashion because it’s fashionable, I wear it because I like coming up with new styles. I never just follow trends blindly. If it’s not comfortable, or if it does not fit my body shape, or where I’m going, I will not wear it.
How do you approach your clients?
I usually do by starting out with how I will solve any issues they have may have in their wardrobe or business. Whether it’s for a business or if it’s personal, I sit, talk and present myself, and I’m a marketeer so I know how to market myself. I would usually listen to see what kind of problems they have, and this is what works best for me: listening. On a personal level, I have to fulfill their lifestyle. It’s not mine to curate. I just help them how to style things out, how to shop, and how to carry out wardrobe consultancies. This is always personal and it has to be according to lifestyle. When it comes to the business part of it, I incorporate marketing to be able interfere with how they’re going to be promoting their brand. I need to learn how they want to grow and expand, and how they want to work with retail management and train the staff. It really depends on what they need.
What was the hardest part of your journey so far? How have you overcome it?
The fashion industry in Egypt wasn’t viewed as a professional career back in the ‘90s. The passion I had for this field was the core reason I sustained and was persistent to penetrate it and develop with it through the years.
What motivates and drives you?
New projects, creative clients, innovative team players and setting a bench mark.
Would you consider yourself a risk taker?
A mild risk taker.
Were there any books that motivated you?
All the way from business success stories to dreamy romantics.
Do you think your mindset has been a key to your success?
What would you say are the key elements to starting a successful business/leading a successful career path?
Passion, education, practice, persistence and consistency.
Who inspires you?
Goal achievers who once had a dream.
How do you deal with a bad day at work?
Oh dear God! Praying keeps me calm and wise.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Exercising, reading, socialising and traveling whenever possible.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who’s starting out in the field, what would it be?
Exert the maximum effort to reach your goals, and please don’t give up so easily. Everything has a million solutions, so stay positive and confident that it will work!
What’s your next big step?
I’m hoping to go regional.