The ‘Style Therapist’, also known as Kwena Baloyi, is one sought after freelance fashion stylist. Her eye for fashion and artiste capabilities has seen her work on everything from music videos and television shows to magazine covers and commercial campaigns. Affectionately called ‘Kween Kwena’ by those close to her, this creative director and ‘liker of nice things’ isn’t just known for her projects. Her personal style and self-expression has captured the imagination of her home country – South Africa – and the world at large. (Ehem, Vogue Italia run her Pitti Immagine Uomo outfit as their homepage image). She’s also been featured by publications such as Essence, British Vogue, New York Times and French Vogue. Her career continues to thrive through her ability to stand out while inviting others on her creative voyage.
The 29-year-old, who was born in Limpopo, moved to Cape Town after high school to pursue modelling. However because of her height she was unable to break into the industry and decided to dress models instead. To get a better understanding of clothes, she started out in retail as a Visual Merchandiser before becoming an assistant stylist for DRUM Magazine SA. Fast forward a few years, she’s an independent stylist who is the first nominee and recipient of the Marie Claire Image Makers 2018 New Guard Stylist Award.
A huge part of her career has been her social media presence. But for Baloyi, sharing images of her personal styling is more than just being elevated into the limelight. “With styling, it starts with me first. You have to be authentic in everything you do in order to connect with people… Social media has been great in that it helps me push my style agenda and show people that they don’t have to be scared of pushing the boundaries. You’re allowed to be yourself. In fact, that’s the main thing you should strive to be whether you’re online or not,” she elaborated in an interview with CSA Global.
Albeit being an in-demand stylist, she follows the ethos that each project deserves the star treatment. Whether she’s working on a cooperate campaign, editorial spread or playing the role of personal shopper for a private client, they all require the same treatment. They all deserve the same enthusiastic and passionate attitude. And she’s pretty passionate, check out her energy levels below:
Every Kween needs a Krown
You really can’t miss this trend-setter’s hairdos. Her go-to stylist is Ncumisa “Mimi” Duma, the talented afro-hair guru we featured earlier in this series. Baloyi’s passion for natural hair inspired her to create the ‘Afrikan Krowns’ series to highlight how different people choose to display their Krowns. “Each person I’ve met has had an interesting aspect of their hair. Some are unique, while others are ‘regular’ simply for the sake of fitting in. My engagements with various people sparked the notion of how people relate to their ‘crown’ – which is essentially what your hair is. I’ve also been attracted to the way different tribes around the continent wear their hair – particularly in West Africa,” she articulates.
However, she’s quick to clarify that this is by no means just a trend. From the populaces of Ugogo to the Fante women of Edina, Africans have always had a rich hair history. They were wearing their tresses in expressive and exceptional ways long before Western standards of beauty were introduced. Although there is a renaissance happening at the moment, with more people of colour embracing their natural tresses. Baloyi proudly wears her ‘Afrikan Krown’ to ensure that the culture is remembered and continues to thrive.
Kween Kwena is a fashion stylist that views her passion as a medium to share stories. Consequently, not only does she strive to express her authentic self through clothing and hair, she works to help others do the same. After all, she believes that it’s high time that Africans share their own stories. With over five years of styling under her belt, this authentic, scintillating storyteller has only scratched the surface of her potential. Making her a fashion stylist to watch, presently and in the future.