What do rapper Big Sean, singer Kelly Rowland, and actresses Letitia Wright and Yvonne Orji have in common? Well, except that all four bask in the limelight, they share a power stylist – Ade Samuel. But they are not the only ones who make up her fast expanding roster of celebrity clients. Samuel has dressed Gown-ish star Yara Shahidi and musician Jhené Aiko, among others, as well as curated pieces for Beyoncé’s “Formation” video.
With a flourishing career that grows on her apparently innate grasp of style and individuality, Samuel started out at W Magazine and Teen Vogue before apprenticing under stylists Cher Coulter and Simone Harouche and, ultimately, venturing out on her own. Aside from, or better, enhancing her styling engagements, she has commenced a shoe line, a passion project that adds a woman’s ingenuity to an industry dominated by men-led powerhouses.
Last month, Samuel celebrated her successes so far with Red Bull, an often trusted companion at gigs and a brand she recently teamed up with. Haute Living caught up with her moments before she hosted a brunch to mark the launch of Red Bull Summer Edition Coconut Berry that will be available through Labor Day.
How did you make the transition from working in the magazine industry to styling?
The transition came when I moved to LA and I went from working at magazines to working in Hollywood just because that is the nature of what California was.
What is style for you?
When I think of style, I think of someone having an organic ability to dress themselves. When I think of my clients, I really take the time to figure out who they are, their personalities, their characteristic traits and what looks good for them. I make art with the clothing that I use and I think that what styling is.
You have styled several celebrities now, what are some of the challenges as well as rewards of doing so?
The reward is seeing the final product. That is always a reward for me. The challenges are often in the hustle and bustle of getting the project together. Some of the challenge, I would say, is just being able to adhere to someone’s personal style, because when you think about everyone, they all have their own personality. So, how do you build them [stylistically]? But then the reward is seeing my work on the red carpet and having the reviews that everyone is loving the look.
When styling someone, what is your approach to getting to know them and figuring out a style for them?
It is usually a collaborative effort. A lot of my clients, I have been lucky enough, are knowledgeable in fashion. It is a conversation – what do you want from our outfit, how do you see yourself, what kind of style are you interested to do? And, then, building from that. And with all my clients I take the time to understand where the clothing come from, you know, who is the designer and ways to build them by staying true to them and also going with what the fashion industry offers. So, it is very collaborative, having multiple conversations to ensure that everything, at the end of the day, feels comfortable for them.
Do you have a favorite look that you have created?
No. I like all my looks. Some are, you know, more memorable than others just because of the momentum or it is the first time working with my client. I always think of my first time working Big Sean for the Grammys. That will be a moment for me. That will be always a look to remember because it was my first time working with him. Styling the Essence cover [for the Black Girl Magic issue] – that was a huge platform and a huge moment to be a part of in history, black history at that. I have moment like that, I do not have a favorite look.
What styles are going to be trendy this summer?
In the Spring/Summer 2018 collections we saw a lot of bold colors that came back, very monochromatic and what you would call the neon pop.
What new projects are you working on?
I would say the shoe line is my biggest project. It is the project that is still my baby but it is something that we are hoping to grow and that is what I am looking forward to focusing on – just building collection number 2.
What can you tell us about your second shoe collection?
The most I can say is that it is just a shoe line made by a woman, being a woman in the industry and realizing that there aren’t many women shoe designers. Accessories have always been something that I love. So, it has always been my dream to have a brand of my own and I started with shoes just because it was my passion. I want my shoes to be, you know, a juxtaposition for women who want to be classy but still edgy, sexy but, you know, really cool. And maybe being a black woman, I wanted to dive into that market where there is really no black woman luxury designer. What I am doing now is growing the brand.
At the brunch last month, guests enjoyed mixing and styling their own mocktails, but if you want to sip on Samuel’s delicious Coconut Tings, we got the recipe:
1 ½ ounce Coconut Berry Red Bull
½ ounce ginger simple syrup
½ ounce lemon juice
1 ½ ounce splash of club soda
In a Collins glass, combine ginger simple syrup, lemon juice, Red Bull and splash of club soda. Stir with cocktail spoon. Garnish with single edible pansy. Cheers!