Christopher Dionté (C. Dionté)
website: www.cdionte.com (August 2016)
· We know you’re a men’s fashion stylist but are you making plans to branch out?
Most certainly. Working as a personal stylist for both men and women, I've taken advantage of the opportunity to learn exactly what people are trying to communicate through the garments they have on. I didn't get to study fashion in college. I had to really take time to teach myself how tones, patterns, textures, and proportions all blend together. Many mistakes and years later; I've just about figured it out. Working with clients that really trusted my judgement; and their willingness to let me be creative, helped me immensely during my learning process. I'm now at a point where I feel it’s time to create a clothing brand of my own. For many years I'd been telling myself that I'll do it, but never really following through with it. Now I'm finally in the process of fabricating a few ready-to-wear pieces for the fall and winter seasons that may be released later this year; however, I haven't promised anything. I'm not moving with the fashion calendar per’ se; I don't want a brand that's just “hot” and I don't want to follow any other trends. I want to be completely honest and create from every form of art within me, so my brand will have its own language. I'm not looking to be a huge fashion designer, or anything of that sort. As an artist I just want to create, take care of my family and give something to the community I came from. It's all purpose driven and ministry. There's a message that's coming with this brand, that will take some time to tell.
· Any events coming up that you would like to share?
I have a few smaller engagements different from what I normally do throughout the year that I'm preparing for now. However, I'm really trying to free my time to focus more on building a clothing brand.
· Fashion Crush Monday is a new segment we’re starting and we are so ecstatic that you agreed to be a part of this movement. Most people say being fashionable is something that you’re born with and later learn to cultivate and master. What’s your oldest fashion memory and why did it make such an impact on you?
Thank you guys for having me. I was totally stoked at the idea of being one of the first guys you all hosted. That was definitely a humbling moment for me, and it was so rad knowing that I would kind of be setting the bar for the rest of the movement. Going back into my younger days, I was 15 when I made a transition from straight brim fitted caps, oversized tees, wide leg / boot cut True Religion Brand Jeans and AF1's -to- curved brim fitted, oxford button ups, 501 Levi Jeans and whatever Jordan's had just come out during the summer before the school year had started. Every day for at least three months I was “joked” for how I was dressed by upperclassmen, who were dressed the way I “used to” dress. They would say things like; I had on my sister’s jeans … that my thighs couldn't breathe … my shirts were young… and etc. I’d laugh with them but continue dressing the same. Four months into the school year, those same people that were giving me a hard time on how I was dressed; were the same ones asking me my opinion on their outfits, [whether they’d pulled “the look” off right and etc.] which at the time was fitted shirts and slim fitting jeans. What I realized then was "first they laugh, then they copy". Ultimately my style earned me the title of “Best Dressed” male in high school. I know I wasn't the only guy who made that transition at the time I did, but I was the first of my peers. It was during that moment I noticed that fashion was my best form of communication.
Describe your style in three words.
James... Allen... Bespoke. I think that kind of sums it up. James Dean, Allen Iverson or a well-tailored Bespoke suit. Sometimes individually, sometimes merged together. James Dean mainly wore a white tee [which is now my grey tee] and a worn pair of fitted denim, whenever he was offset, and in my opinion he made the black wayfarer sunglasses and leather bike jacket look way cooler. He never did any big prints or logos, everything was simple, and it was his uniform whenever he wasn't filming. Then you have Allen Iverson, who is from the same area I'm from in Virginia, so I understand why I relate to him so much. I grew up watching him play ball and always referred to him whenever I was getting dressed to play any sport. Iverson would wear whatever he wanted to the games while his teammates were in suits. I admired that. It got to the point where the NBA had to enforce their players to dress up, or they would be suspended from playing. His attitude towards his style, to me, simply said "whether I'm in a three-piece suit or wearing baggy jeans, an oversized tee and six chains, I'm still going to give you the same results, love me or hate me I'm still going to be Allen Iverson". I wasn't a fan of his oversized look, but I understood him being comfortable as who he was, and not conforming to what they wanted him to look like. I was the same growing up and even now. I've never really followed any dress codes. I'm either under dressed or over dressed, it all depends on how I feel and what I have to wear. I never really liked being told that I had to wear a suit. I heard that largely at church and church conferences, whenever I would wear a jean jacket and distressed jeans that showed the majority of my knees; but that has always been my take on men's suiting. When there was nothing special going on, and absolutely no “real reason” to dress up; that's when I would dress up the most and it had to be in an extremely well-tailored bespoke suit. If I was wearing a suit, I wanted you to see my suit. I didn't want to blend in; so I would dress up for no apparent reason in environments where it would stand out, and made you look down at what you had on. I knew doing that would empower other guys to do it for no reason as well; instead of just waiting around for only those special occasions.
Most stylists have a specific season that they love to style for, what’s yours and why?
I love the fall and winter seasons [I'm a winter baby, so that may have something to do with it] but I love that during those seasons I get to really layer and play with different proportions of an outfit. That form of dressing is the most captivating to me. It's all in the details and it shows way more expression and volume.
Favorite designer? How do they inspire you?
God, Ralph Lauren, Zaha Hadid and Haider Ackermann. God being the best out of the four [of course] I'm totally inspired by everything God has designed, that even being myself. I'd love to sit down with him and learn what his creative process is as far as how he see's everything before it's completely done. From textures, to sounds, to lifestyles. I've been studying both Lauren's and Ackermann's work since I was in high school. They both get it, when it comes to comfort, quality and durability. Their pieces last for decades. Lauren has furniture collections that are out of this world, he does so many things with design, it's beautiful. The late Zara Hadid will always be one of my favorites. Although I haven't had the chance to visit her properties around the world yet, I've spent hours in a day studying the structure of the buildings she designed and I've always wanted to create a wardrobe of what I thought the people looked like that were in those buildings. She is another one I would've loved to sit down with. Ackermann definitely knows how to layer and stack. With my style being a blend of different cultures, it's hard to find the right pieces to communicate the look I'm going for and his pieces always cater to the juxtaposition of my style. He is the best pattern maker I've come across. No matter how different the patterns or blends are you can mix any of his pieces together and you will always come out with a great look. I try to work with maybe 4-7 different looks and rotate them only changing as the seasons change. Right now for me it's just distress jeans and different shades of grey tees every day, layered with tanks and denim jackets. That works for me. And it helps people recognize me when I'm out. I use to have the hardest time finding what to wear going through my closet because it was so cluttered with clothes. I gave almost everything away and started rebuilding my wardrobe. I learned that less is always more and being a minimalist, I'm able to work with what I have.
As we grow in the industry, fashion is constantly evolving but somehow seems to recycle old trends and styles from previous decades and time frames. If you had a choice of recycling a specific form of fashion from the past, what would it be and how would you recreate it?
I'd love to take some pieces from the early 1700 and 1800 centuries and create what it would look like to me now, for museums and gala's. I would definitely make it look grungier and add a little Star Wars feel to it in regards to the tones. I've said something about doing this before, but much later down the road though. Maybe once I start designing my own museum.
In a world filled with people who are in the exact same line of work as you are, what sets you apart?
My originality and my reason for doing it. I'm aware of the industry I'm in. Everything has already pretty much been created, there isn't anything new, we just move lines, cut things differently and add different details and that's how it comes out as a new garment. I'm not in it for the money or to become famous. I'm honestly passionate about the art and more focused on telling my testimony and encouraging anyone that looks at my work or my personal life. Art is the platform God has equipped me for, so that's the direction I'm choosing to go. My background is rooted in the church and my brand will also have that same foundation. From start to finish, I just want to be the best version of myself I can be, perfect my gift and give God the glory. What I create alone when there is no one watching is what will bring my spirit before men; no one will ever be able to top that.
If you could speak to your 16 year old self and tell them anything, what would it be?
Man, Chris... just do it. Get started now. Take it one day at a time. Be more honest, give more, listen clearly, do with less, be thankful and live by Romans 12:2
In 5 years, where do you think your passion will take you?