I love styling with Rylan Clark-Neal, says Sun writer Nana Acheampong on her new primetime TV job

I love styling with Rylan Clark-Neal, says Sun writer Nana Acheampong on her new primetime TV job

June 17, 2020

IN new BBC fashion makeover show You Are What You Wear, Rylan Clark-Neal invites five of Britain’s most exciting stylists to rework some tired wardrobes – and Fabulous’s celebrity stylist Nana Acheampong is one of them.

Over the next few weeks the team will help to restyle several volunteers, from a woman who only wears her husband’s baggy clobber, to a man whose clothes are entirely black.

Having worked for The Sun on Sunday’s Fabulous magazine on and off for more than ten years, Nana, 34, from De Beauvoir Town, East London, is also a pro at styling celebrities for red-carpet events such as the Brits, the Mobos and the GQ Awards.

Having faced her share of racism in the fashion industry, here she tells how she is having the last laugh, sharing a sofa with Rylan on primetime TV.

WHEN I got the call that I was cast on You Are What You Wear, I was actually on a Fabulous magazine cover shoot with Dermot O’Leary. I was so excited. I told Dermot, who was so lovely and told me I’d be amazing.

When I found out it was being presented by Rylan, I was buzzing. I’ve known him for years as I was in the team of stylists working on X Factor in 2012 when he was a contestant and we’d always see each other at industry events.

We’ve got a really nice relationship — he takes the p*** out of me and I do the same back. He blames me for his outfits on The X Factor! Now he only ever wears black, so I’ve been trying to get him to push the boat out — he’s ventured into navy.

The reaction to the show has been overwhelming and so positive. I’m not one to sit on Twitter and read through any negativity — I think I grew a thick skin after working on The X Factor.

Tougher skin

I began my career by studying journalism at London College of Communication and meanwhile I interned at magazines including Fabulous, where I got my first job as a fashion assistant.

Since then, I have worked at the magazine on and off, and freelanced in between.But it hasn’t been the easiest of journeys. Working for free is really the only way you can break into the fashion industry.

When you are interning, a fashion assistant may leave and an intern may step into that paid role. But I found I was set back slightly as I did it for a lot longer than all my white counterparts.

I interned at various places for two years, and I know many other people who got jobs a lot quicker than I did. I know I was passed up for jobs because of my skin colour, but I never got put down by it.

Long way to go

I just kept going and I believe everything happens for a reason. I have experienced racism throughout my life, outside of work. I went to a boarding school where I was the only black person and it was full of rich, middle-class white girls.

I would sometimes feel isolated. It is just something you learn to live with, not that you should have to. My experiences growing up have definitely helped me to get tougher skin.

I don’t care what people think as much, and I have an amazing support network around me. My job is one of a kind, and hard work pays off.I have flown to LA for 48 hours to do a Fabulous cover shoot with Tamara Ecclestone and to Australia to style Kelly Rowland for a week as part of the style team, with five suitcases.

The fashion industry is more diverse than when I started my career but I believe it has a long way to go.

Representation is key

On a fashion panel there should be someone at the table who is of colour, and I cannot emphasise that enough.

But what I love is that fashion is a career where you can really express yourself.

And I am all about the glamour. My friends always say I look like I am always dressed for the Oscars. And it is true, I find it harder to dress down than up.

Getting to where I am now, I appreciate many other people with my type of background may find it difficult.

Some families do not have the luxury of being able to support one another to work for free as an intern.

But lots of perseverance is key — and take advantage of Instagram and use it as a platform. It helps.

  • Follow Nana on Instagram @styledbynana. You Are What You Wear is on BBC1 tonight at 8pm.

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