Meet Connie Aluoch

Talking to internationally renowned Kenyan fashion stylist Connie Aluoch is one of those moments one takes to heart for a long time. The Kenyan fashion guru not only has a welcoming personality but getting to know her life story and accomplishments leaves you fueled up with an ‘I can do it’ attitude. A true passionate achiever, Connie’s fashion career as a stylist has seen her backstage at the glamorous events of New York, London and Milan Fashion Weeks. She has also styled many Africa-based celebrities and is the official stylist for the KTN (Kenya Television Network). FA254 had a talk with Connie about her career and how it all begun.

Tell us a bit about your background, your childhood and how it all played a role in your love for Fashion.

I come from a family of fashion enthusiasts. My parents love to dress up for various occasions and they are both notably known for their style. My two elder sisters who are not in the fashion industry also have great taste for fashion and interior lifestyles. My late grandmother Mama Tabitha Aluoch loved crafts and was a creative so definitely the Fashion Flair runs in the family.

How old were you when you realized that you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?

By my mid teens I knew I definitely wanted to work in the Fashion Industry. Growing up I used to watch a show on CNN called Style With “Elsa Klensch” she used to interview Fashion Personalities. I dreamt of one day working in the Fashion Industry and becoming a recognizable name.

What was the reaction like from your family with regards to you wanting to study and work in the field of fashion?

My parents and general family have always been and still are very supportive about my fashion career.

Your schooling is quite impressive. You studied at FIT in New York, Polimoda and Istituto Marangoni in Italy, as well as Evelyn College of Design in Kenya, can you briefly share your journey through these schools.

What made you to enroll in their programs and what was your experience as a student at all three?

I started off at Evelyn College of Design doing a diploma because I needed to understand the basics of Fashion. I moved on to FIT in New York for my Associates and Bachelors Degree in Fashion Design. During that time I enrolled in a “One Year Study Abroad Program” in Florence, Italy. That was one of the best experiences of my life to date. Understanding the Italian Culture, Fashion and Language, which I still speak to date.

I am very blessed in the sense that I have gone to school in 2 Major Fashion Capitals. New York and Milan in Italy.

Tell us a bit about your work as a stylist, who have you styled and what it is like to be a fashion stylist in Kenya and around Africa.

My styling work can be seen on all the Celebrities who have appeared on True Love East Africa Magazine- Auma Obama who is a germanist, socialogist, journalist, author and member of the Barack Obama family, Betty Kyallo, Janet Mbugua Ndichu, Caroline Mutoko, Julie Gichuru who are all public figures and many more.

I am also the official stylist for the KTN’s (Kenya Television Network) News Anchors for the last 4 years. KTN Network is part of the Standard Group which is the leading media station in the East African Region.

My team and I are in charge of managing their image, creating a Styling Guide, and providing personal shopping services for them.

I also have a weekly column in the Nairobian Newspaper which is a product of Standard Group.

Its great being a Stylist in Kenya/Africa currently as there are still so many untapped opportunities and the general public are now appreciating and understanding the importance of a Stylist.

You are a Fashion lecturer at the University of Nairobi, School of Arts and Design, what skills and knowledge do you think young people in Kenya and Africa as a whole, aspiring to work in the fashion industry need to gain?

Fashion Designers need to perfect the art of good quality finishings on their garments, Fashion Players must also learn that Teamwork is very important- Designers, Stylists, Makeup Artists etc. all form part of the Fashion System so we must learn to work together.

What do you think of the current state of the African Fashion Industry?

The African Fashion Industry is rising and gaining recognition in the International Arena. This is great for cross collaborations across the continent.

How can the fashion industry in Africa and promotion of designers be improved? The government needs to enhance the funding for creatives, modernize production, strengthen distribution networks and assist in marketing designers on the international platforms.

You are the first Kenyan in the East and Central African region to obtain a Master’s Degree in Fashion Styling and be awarded, what advice can you give to a young African student with dreams of studying fashion and pursuing a career in the industry.

Fashion is a great fulfilling career but involves a lot of dedication, sacrifice and hard work, Network and attend Many Fashion Events, intern and learn from those experienced in the Fashion Industry. Stay focused and humble.

Taking her styling prowess to Germany, Connie Aluoch will be the international guest of FA254 at the book presentation MTINDO on Wednesday 6 July at the Soho House in Berlin. Thank You Connie!

Written by Faith Katunga