Atyia Seck slips into a Soho cafe for our first meeting, wearing a black jumpsuit on her lithe frame and a feather from the Algonquian tribe hanging from her neck. Her face is angular, topped with flowing dreadlocks, and decorated with jewel-toned eye shadow. On initial encounter, Seck’s expression is serene and her mannerisms soft. As breaks into a discussion of her work as fashion stylist, her speech quickens and she reveals a passion as arresting as her appearance.
The daughter of a seamstress recalls being conscious of style at age eight, when she stood out in school wearing her mother’s creations. After moving to New York City from North Carolina, she worked in various capacities with well-known Manhattan clothiers, including independent boutiques and clothing conglomerates. Her clients embody a true cross-section of NYC life: artists, fashionistas, high-profile professionals, and those just looking to shake things up.
Seck’s approach is one she calls “glam chic” aka “street chic”, which she does not want to be confused with “urban chic”. Despite the carefully worded differences, there is nevertheless an element of urban edge in her vision. In 2001, the stylist designed blazers made from organic wool from the Masai tribe in Kenya. They were compared to Burberry’s textiles, and selected to be sold at event hosted by L’il Kim. Unfortunately, the celebrity singer skipped town after a shooting at a club.
If there’s an apt description for the stylist’s aesthetic, it is free-spirited, independent glamour. Glam chic then, is about clothes that make a person act and feel their best at a given in time. Seck’s mother, a native of South Africa, and her father, a Native American Indian, have influenced her work, as much as her son. Yet the 30-year-old is also influenced by geographical experience; from the Brooklyn designers she encounters to the clients who bought the fancy dresses at a Manhattan boutique where she once worked.
What do you do as stylist?
I give people an editorial on their whole life. I build relationships with clients, and they understand you see eye to eye with them. For example, I had a client who was a teacher of etiquette. She was a redhead who had never worn yellow, but wanted to shake up her style. I found a way to incorporate color into her wardrobe. Stylists know what people want to wear every day. Just by having conversations over the phone with people,
I can tell what they wear.
But have you ever been wrong?
I’ve been wrong. If you don’t be wrong, how you know it’s right?
What’s your every day like?
A lot of running around, but I love it. I do a lot of field work and carry heavy stuff.
What’s the greatest part about your job?
I’m in Steve Madden one day, and an old lady comes up to me and says: You look very stylish, my granddaughter looking for a pair of shoes. Can you help me?
It’s ultimately about making someone happy.
What or who are your creative influences?
Ideas stay in my head since the morning. Movies inspire me. My 11 yr-old son inspires me. Right now, he’s studying classical mythology in school. Whatever he reads inspires me. I’m into the Grecian thing.
What do you think is the biggest style faux-pas?
A lot of people over-accessorize themselves. They really think they need 10 bangles?
How do you describe your personal style?
Grecian meets Brooklyn.
What designers do you admire?
Designers like Stella McCartney and Proenza Schouler, who are great artists. I like Vince Camuto. You can pair any outfit with a Camuto shoe. I’m also influenced by successful Brooklyn artists. Oh, and I’m also a Chanel fanatic.
What’s the most glam chic area in the city?
Soho, Broadway-Lafayette. Even people from Brooklyn come here to chill. You can dress any way you want.
by Alicia Ng
MADAMESECK STYLED MODEL JEN L FOR A FASHION STORY "COLOR MY MOOD", COMING OUT ON NOV. 20 IN FAB EGO MAGAZINE
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PHOTOGRAPHER: YULIA ROCK