Sometimes, elegance and simplicity can be quite compatible. Amaka Eze found that recently in Mrs Ivy Ekong, founder and principal consultant of Icon Mode, a fashion outfit that sits comfortably on the cutting edge of style
Despite having a degree in economics and business management and a career in banking, Ivy Ekong had often felt she has yet to accomplish as much as she would love to. A sense of fulfilment would eventually come when she decided to pursue her long-time dream of going into the fashion industry - a desire which she has “nursed even from the age of eight”.
For her, the desire had always been to help women and men attain self-confidence. “I always wanted to teach and tutor, to make people feel good and bring smiles to their faces right from the inside. I therefore dropped my career job and decided to dedicate myself to my lifelong passion. With that dream, I went ahead to train in personal styling and image consultancy at the Colour Me Beautiful Academy, in London.
“As a former fashion model and an ex-beauty queen, I used my knowledge of the fashion industry to contribute positively to the success story of Icon Mode which I pioneered in London. I strove to make my clients believe in themselves through my personal motto: personal styling is an absolute necessity whatever your shape, size, age budget or lifestyle. It’s not about what you wear, but about how you wear it.”
With an elegance that is somewhat understated, Icon Mode’s services are largely accessible. “From that lady who was very pretty and slender before marriage, but lost the looks after childbirth, celebrities wanting to be noticed, models preparing for photo-shoots, to individuals wanting that extra confidence, comfort and glamour, everyone can benefit from our services,” she said.
“Sometimes, we find ourselves wanting to be like someone who looks effortlessly stylish but we don’t have the cash. At Icon Mode we encourage our clients to be their own style icon because personal styling is not just a luxury must-have for the rich and famous anymore, but a thing of the mind.
“Today, feeling confident about our body image and personal style is an absolute necessity despite the shape, size, age, budget or lifestyle. Regardless of whether you love high street or designer, I believe it’s not about what you wear, but how you wear it; thus we work with all manner of individuals and corporate clients both in the UK and other countries to help them achieve their ultimate objectives.”
Although a commercial venture, there is essentially an altruistic dimension that underlined the emergence of the style house. “There is no place like home. Most times, when I consult for and revamp my clients in London and other parts of the country, the joy they feel usually flows right into my own veins. Thus I decided to bring this great service closer to my own people, thus my reason for setting up in Nigeria. So far, I have no cause for regret, because most clients I have met have been overjoyed after the sessions, thus they introduce their friends and loved ones to come for the same services.”
For her, customers should be able to feel a sense of warmth and personal touch amidst the crowd stylists have to attend to. And she does offer a diverse array of services - style consultation, colour consultation, full image consultation, bridal consultation, personal shopping and wardrobe revamp.
“At style consultations, we make our clients understand that body shape does not necessarily hinder them from looking good, whether slender or curvy, young or old, every shape is beautiful. The expert touch lies in knowing what to reveal and conceal in order to make every outfit appealing. That’s what we do during style consulting. We work with our clients to give them a stylish, amazing and memorable look.
“Also, we help our clients understand which style flatters them and why. This enables them know how to select the right clothes and accessories that suits their body shape and your style personality; knowing exactly what to buy the moment you walk into a shop, gives any person great pleasure and also helps them stay within budget.”
The years spent working as a style connoisseur has equipped her with sufficient knowledge which she is often too willing to share. “Wearing the wrong colours often dulls you out. People who wear the wrong colours often hide their true personality behind those dull, downright and dowdy clothes. Knowing and wearing the right colours gives you energy and vibrancy. Colour can have a huge impact on how we look, how we feel and how others perceive us. Wearing the right colours transforms our look, while giving our personality an instant boost. You will always feel more confident, happier, younger and healthier in the right colours; that what we address with colour consulting and its usually last for 90 minutes.
“Every bride wants to look perfect and exude confidence on their wedding day. Icon Mode makes sure that happens for the bride through the Bridal image consultation which guides them in finding the right dress, colours that suit you, the perfect hair, the best makeup and accessories for the special day.
“A groom’s image consultation also shows what shades suit his colouring and complement him best, the best colours to wear on his big day to complement both him and his new bride, the best options for jackets, shirts, tie, and trousers for his build and also the best way to wear his hair to suit his face shape.”
Ekong understands the immense fulfilment that could come from being able to pursue one’s dreams. So, she is eager to offer aspiring fashion stylists an opportunity to accomplish their dreams. “At Icon Mode, we love fashion, and anyone who has always loved fashion and are looking for a complete change in career can come for training at very affordable prices.
“This could be an opportunity to fulfil dreams and follow a career part that they actually love, especially as the career works well with family life giving ample enough time to the spend with family and loved ones.”
Established about three years ago in London, Ekong’s outfit has styled celebrities like the current Miss Nigeria UK, the current winner of Top Model of Colour UK, and high-profile clients to critical acclaim. “Through the years, we have worked with popular designers, fabulous labels, fashion magazines including Adebayo Jones, KosibahBbridal, Ouch, Ahdookeh, African Fashion Week London. We have also styled individuals who didn’t feel happy about their dress sense and wanted to look better to give their self-confidence a boost. “We are here to help you develop your personal image and gain renewed confidence. We have a great team who are very professional and are well trained in the fashion industry.
“Our styling preference is a combination of vintage flair with the modern, which always achieves fabulous results. Fashion is all about exploring; we are experimental and love to explore different fabrics and contemporary designs and trends. Many people believe that the only way to look good is by wearing designer labels. But what really matters is maximising your assets, feeling comfortable, combining the right colours, and looking fabulous.”
On how she feels being a personal stylist, she said: “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the instant boost of confidence personal styling can provide; it’s a source of motivation for us to make this happen for our clients.
Style is the secret weapon of many image conscious public figures and high profile personalities and Icon Mode plays a lot with style. From experience, we have come to know that a lot of people are fashionable, but few are stylish. This is where Icon Mode comes in - to help build image and brand.”