As a professional stylist and the creative director of the Trincity-based Ren Wilson Stylist, Renelle “Ren” Wilson has set herself the goal of helping move the local music industry forward through its visual identity by cultivating a meaningful aesthetic for artists.
Wilson said most of the time, when people scroll through social media, the volume is on mute so eye-catching visuals and distinctive outfits are important to make the viewer stop and listen to the music. That is why she would like to see more local artists having a more consistent personal style.
“The world we live in is very influenced by social media and people discover music through social media. If we really want to push soca as a major genre and for it to get the kind of recognition it deserves I think that it's very important that artists invest in their visual identity.
“Everything is visual. We are listening with our eyes too. I think it's so important to really have a very cohesive aesthetic as soca artists and performers. We really need to have a very distinct visual identity in order to really capture the eyes, ears and heart of the listenership and fan bases out in the international arena.”
She said their style could evolve but the base should be distinctive. She used the example Superblue with his signature colour and styling using scarves and earrings.
She has styled soca artist Erphaan Alves and others for his music video Forever Love, as well as for some of his promotional material. She has also worked with up-and-coming soca artist Mykela who she styled for her music video Multivitamin.
In addition, she styled Muhammad Muwakil of Freetown Collective for the group’s Welcome to Freetown concert this year. The theme was All Hands on Deck so she created a sailor-themed look for the artist.
“I really wanted to bring on the theme so I chose a tunic from The Cloth which is known for its patchwork/ appliqué design. I wanted to use that, all these different pieces of fabric coming together, to represent how it is as a society, as a people, as a collective. It’s all these different people coming together for one purpose on this journey of life and moving the culture forward.”
Wilson has been a stylist for five years but has enjoyed fashion since she was a teenager. She has always been excited about fashion’s capacity for storytelling and self-expression, and that passion led to her friends and family asking her for advice on what to wear if they were going out.
By the time she graduated from St George’s College in 2013 she knew she wanted fashion to be a career but she was uncertain about how to get into the industry since she did not want to be a designer.
Instead, she attended UWI where she graduated with a degree in international relations with a minor in French.
“I wasn’t really a design person. I wasn’t good at drawing but I really liked clothes and expressing myself through clothes but, not necessarily through garment construction. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to get into fashion so I started to do international relations because it was interesting to me.”
While at UWI she learned that a stylist was a job in the fashion industry. She felt it was something she could do but decided to complete her degree before pursuing her passion.
After UWI, she taught English in France for an academic year and was exposed to the fashion there and paid attention to how differently the people there dressed.
So, when she returned to TT, she applied to UTT’s Caribbean Academy for Fashion and Design where she earned a diploma in fashion management in 2019. With the goal of becoming a stylist, she believed the programme would help her figure out a career path.
She said the fashion styling and editing component of the programme did not only do that but it also introduced her to creative direction, which she grew to love. She especially enjoyed world-building and conceptualising ideas through choices in clothing and accessories.
Wilson told WMN she created looks and posted them on Instagram, and then started working with a local fashion retailer creating content for its online store and social media. There, she would help the company display merchandise in an attractive way, styling the models with clothes and accessories for e-commerce.
“E-commerce is different from fashion editorial. A fashion editorial is what you would see in Vogue. It’s a lot more artistic and creative. It’s fantastical and whimsical and you could do all these weird poses and all of that crazy stuff.
“Whereas for e-commerce you have to make sure that it's displaying the clothes clearly – that’s front, back and side view of the clothing – because it’s to help customers make their decisions to buy while still making it appealing and exciting, and making them imagine themselves in the clothes.”
During the pandemic she left her job and started doing her own styling full-time. She took advantage of the contacts she made at UTT and while working in the industry, as well as the power of social media.
She was soon hired to start a campaign for the local bath, body and fragrance brand, Immortelle Beauty and later, several local music artists.
Wilson said she has been noticing bell-bottom pants making a return for men and women.
“I think that’s really great. I think it’s fun, it’s nice to play with proportions in that way. We needed a little break from the skinny jeans. We always need to change up the silhouette."
She also enjoys seeing men experimenting with style more by wearing patterns and colours.
She suggested people should think about adding texture to their looks by using materials such as crochet, satin, embroidery and leather. They could also add elements that accentuate movement when dancing like fringe and tassels.
She said it was important for those interested in fashion to pay attention to things outside of fashion such as art and music.
“Just be aware of the world around you and let that inform your personal taste. Look at the world with an open mind and absorb that as opposed to just picking out trends and going with that.”
Wilson said she wanted to continue helping people feel confident in and love themselves through fashion. Therefore, she intends to continue expanding the Ren Wilson Stylist thrift sale pop up shop she has every few months at the YWCA in St Clair.
Follow her on Instagram- @renwilsonstylist