What are some style rules you live by? Stylist Martina Pieper shares hers.
Martina Pieper is a passionate art supporter, who grew up in Czechoslovakia and came to live in Namibia in 2005. She is a creative person, who is fortunate enough to live out her creative potential through styling. She is a stylist, fashionista, artist, amateur photographer, who found her way to art through poetry and theatre and discovered her fascination with fashion relatively later than many other girls/ women. In her every day capacity, Martina a lecturer for German foreign language and Critical thinking skills and a Head of Department of Languages and Communication at the International University of Management.
Talk to us about your relationship with fashion?
When you ask me about my relationship with fashion, I will have to start from my childhood. Growing up, I caused my mother plenty headaches as she had her own idea of how her only daughter should look like and what clothes she should wear and I had my own.
I think, she was getting quite worried about me not fulfilling her dream of her “little princess” especially in my early teenage years. Let me be honest with you, I was a “tomboy”. I wore baggy jeans, my dad’s jerseys, rubber sole boot-like shoes…
Truth is, I had my own style, even though it was not adherent with the norm.
My favourite place to shop used to be second hand shops, where one could buy the most interesting pieces of clothing for very little money. It was perfect. I used to get the most beautiful vintage leather jackets, coats, trousers, blouses etc. I think this is when I started putting pieces together, pieces people would have not thought to combine. This is when I started experimenting.
Fashion started to interest me more in my twenties. That is when I started to follow trends, look for clothes, which were considered more “feminine”…, paged through one or two fashion magazines. And we can thank the HBO series “Sex and the City” for that. I know, that many now laugh and consider me superficial, but this is really when I started being fascinated with clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories. This was when I started to understand myself, how important it was for me to be comfortable with my body, how to dress my body and not how to hide it in clothes. I understood, that it is not taking anything from my intellect, when I look good, I am not less educated, when I put on “nice” clothes that suit my body. It was not about brands and designer clothes, expensive dinners, parties and sex.
It was about finding myself, my place in this world, about my own empowerment.
My relationship with fashion is more of a complex one. It is about understanding oneself, making peace with oneself, about emphasising the inner and outer beauty of a person. It is about creating one’s own style.
How did you get into styling?
My way into styling was quite a surprise to me. I literally surprised myself.
I kept hearing from people who are close to me and also from semi-strangers, that they admired my style, that I always looked well put together, that my clothes suit my personality, that I was not afraid to experiment with clothes, etc. I found it flattering, but I literally was wearing clothes that I liked, according to how I felt, what I thought would fit my body.
I’ve always had difficulty accepting compliments, so I did not know what to do with it. I then reached the point where I would rather dress down than up, because I am actually an introvert albeit sometimes an extroverted introvert and I do not like to draw too much attention to myself.
But the breakthrough came two years ago, when Lize Ehlers in her last interview for the year 2018 for The Namibian named me as the person with the best sense of style in town. I was taken aback. It was such a surprise to me, because I have always admired Lize’s style and her art, which has been reflected in her whole persona on stage… So at the beginning of 2019 I called her and offered her my service for the performers on the Song Night stage and she accepted. I did my first show and second show and third… and became Lize’s personal stylist and found myself working with her and with Melissa Poulton closely on all three outfits for the NAMAs 2019, where Lize was awarded “Artist of the Year”. From thereon, I started to be recognised. The WFW team, shortly after, invited me to be on the panel to cast models for WFW 2019 as well as attend every event of the WFW. Thank you Lafika Joyce Heita, Kalistu Alvaro Ramos, Luis Munana and Thomas Iitula.
Your favorite project to have worked on to date?
This is a tough one. It is really difficult for me to answer this. I work only on my favourite projects; starting with Lize Ehlers, going to every single Song Night show as well as red carpets but honestly, I think it would also be the project on which I got the opportunity to collaborate with models, designers, a make-up artist and Geena Visagie – a young and talented photographer. It was a shoot that was dedicated to “Pride month”. See here.
It was a really beautiful project. I was able to do anything, styling wise, from bold to conservative, from settled colours to really colourful. It was a big collaboration. Four different designers offered their creations to be featured (Melissa Poulton, Ingo Shanyenga, Hafeni Frans and Marshant van Rooi), Miss Jey was the MUA on the set and of course four wonderful models (Gino Chiappini, Adriano Visagie, Donovan Majiedt and Jay Aeron) put themselves into my hands and trusted me with the style. I feel very humbled, that I had this opportunity.
Your dream styling gig?
I actually have a few of them. I would like to be a stylist on set for a Namibian movie shot in Namibia – some futuristic colourful phantasy or so – and work on it with our talented Namibian designers. That would be my first one.
The second dream, I cannot call it a “gig”, would be advising on style tricks and hacks for every woman who uses clothes to hide her body instead of dressing it.
Your favorite fashion mantra/quote?
That is not an easy question to answer, because there are quite a few I am following:
Firstly, I strongly believe, and think it has been said before I said it:
“Fashion is temporary, style is for ever.”
I think it is quite clear, what is meant by this.
Fashion, fashion trends, materials, colours change so quickly, that many of us at some point struggle to follow and fall in to the trap of wanting to change their entire wardrobe every season to be able to keep up with trends. Firstly, this approach is costly and secondly, not everybody can wear everything.
What I do to keep up with trends is choose an aspect of it. I would either choose colour, print, design or one piece of clothing that is trending and then incorporate it in to my wardrobe. And of course, it has to fit in to my whole concept of my style, it must suit my body, age, skin tone, hairstyle and lifestyle.
What I do for my clients is as complex as it is for myself. I always respect my client’s personality, their preferences, in which clothes they feel comfortable, what colours they prefer and of course their lifestyle. This is applied to my clients, who seek advice on their day-to-day styling.
Secondly, I also strongly believe in: “Less is more.”
Nobody needs to look like a “Christmas tree”. I personally prefer class, before trend. I prefer to combine basic colours with a bit of colourful accent or pattern.
Thirdly, is something a very stylish older woman told me: “Intelligence of a person is not measured only by the score on an IQ-test, but as well of the person’s ability to dress appropriately for a specific occasion.” Many would disagree with me on this and argue with freedom of expression and non-conformism, but I am convinced, that it makes a difference, how somebody dresses for a day in an office, night out, theatre or concert, exhibition or for a grill party with friends. Many could argue, that this is also a question of a budget but I disagree. Budget limits us in a way, that we will not go for pricey brands, designer clothes, that is true, but it does not limit us in being dressed accordingly for an occasion. It determines size of our wardrobe, but it does not limit our skills to combine individual pieces with each other in order to create new outfits.
Lastly, I always tell my clients to “not try to hide their body in their clothes”, but rather to embrace it. The rule is to emphasise what one likes about their own body and lead the attention towards it.
Your go-to outfit?
My go to outfit is a pair of jeans and t-shirt/shirt… I like comfortable simple clothes with a twist.
Your favorite clothing item in your closet?
My favourite clothing item are two items. It is a pant suit made by Nikola Conradie, which is a result of my first collaboration with this wonderful Namibian designer. It was my vision perfected and materialised by her skill and hard work. I wore it on a blue carpet for NAMAs 2019.
See more of Martina’s work on Instagram, @styledby_martina.
To work with her, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com