Chezzy Rose — An Interview

Akshaya Bhutkar

Background.

I’m half-Chinese and half-Nigerian, so there’s a lot of culture in my life. I study Visual Communication and International Studies, after moving from a Business degree last year.

How it all started.

 When I was 16, I started fashion blogging — back when it was first beginning — and there was a lot of hype around it. When I started, my blog was very ‘on trend’, with a monochrome aesthetic and light colours. Fashion, for me at the time, was a way to forget about stress; I could dress up, take photos, and use it as a creative outlet.

I went on to do an internship at a fashion PR firm, which turned out to be a huge eye opener. We would get all of these expensive designer garments and stylists would come and go. It was outrageous to see all these pieces stacked up like they were nothing, treated as though there was no value in the clothing. That was when I realised what I found appealing: the whole art of putting clothes together, rather than brand names and the price tags.

In terms of blogging in the fashion industry, it’s very superficial. If you have a certain bag or clothing item, you’re automatically considered fashionable — but it’s so much more than that. It should be about the art of putting everything together and making it look like it has value. There’s so much more to fashion.

When I stopped blogging, I realised I needed another form of creative outlet. I kept thinking, and then it hit me: Why don’t I continue with fashion but do something on a deeper level? I come from such rich cultural backgrounds; there was so much I could do with it. Instead of me being in the picture, it would be so much more meaningful to put my work out there and style other people, helping represent their identities.

Fashion is, in essence, an expression of who you are to the world. It works as a protective barrier between you and the world outside. Your experiences, your culture, and how you have been brought up all affect your perspective on fashion and what you do with it. I used to be really self-conscious, but exploring fashion has helped me deal with that — enhancing my ability to control what others perceive of me through the way I style.

Shema Mow

The Shema Mow shoot was amazing. It was the hardest shoot I’ve done, getting sweaty and sunburnt, but it was so captivating. Shema also has such a rich cultural background, as a Sudanese Muslim woman born in Egypt. She was bought up in an incredibly modest context, and so she couldn’t experiment as much as she wanted to. That has carried itself into how she dresses now, with Shema trying to find herself with fashion once she moved to Sydney.

I really wanted to focus on her Egyptian heritage with this shoot, which is why I featured a lot of silks and textured materials. I focused on bright, bold colours that I knew would be so vivid against her dark skin. African culture in general is so bright, which is why I experimented with lots of colours and jewellery.

Creative Process

I seek my models out beforehand, but most of them are my friends. In saying that, I want my shoots to be professional, so I look for very specific aspects when deciding on the subject. Before shooting someone, I’ll interview with them on the phone or in person and ask them questions about their identity, parents, and events that may have affected the way they approach style. From there, I use Pinterest to search highlights I’d like to feature, and to get inspiration. I then choose a theme — colour schemes and fashion trends. With Shema’s, I focused on colour blocking, frills, and silk. When it comes to the styling, I approach the outfits the way that I dress myself: visualising the look beforehand, putting them together in my head.

On her braids.

I never used to do braids as a child. I would dye my hair blonde and basically try to be someone else, to adhere to an exclusive ideal of beauty. When I put my braids in, I was in disbelief at how well they worked, and how much easier it was for me to do my hair. My hair is very curly and kinky, and I would spend hours straightening it — basically I was trying to be white, and I’m not white!

Fashion is a way to controlling what you want people to perceive of you.

You dress according to what you want people to think of you — how you want the world to perceive you, and as an expression of who you are. The way you dress can also be a reflection of your feelings and your mood. Hair and makeup, everyone has a different way of expressing themselves.

Representation in the industry of fashion.

 I feel like, as with anything else, fashion will progress as society progresses. The fashion world is always reacting to society and what is happening in the world. There’s definitely more diversity in the fashion industry today, which is good, but it does make you wonder… You’ll never know if a brand is taking diversity into consideration because they know it’s good branding, or if they actually care about these things.