Born to a Senegalese mother and Cote d’Ivoire father, stylist Jenke Ahmed Tailly grew up in the Ivory Coast. He started his career as a model (shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz) before various stints as fashion editor and consultant. Today he spends his time between Paris and New York.
With his name not familiar to many, Tailly has been quietly working behind the fashion industry’s most high stakes shoots. He is stylist to Beyoncé, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. He defines fashion as “a good barometer of the era you live in” which necessitates him to conduct research when inventing different looks, “I want to understand what was the political point of view of that era, was the intellectual thinking?” he says.
Tailly believes that the fashion industry is changing whereas in the past it was one dimensional today the fashion industry is embracing diversity and has vastly evolved. However according to him this diversity is not yet fully exploited to the maximum, stylistic diversity and cultural expansion are part of his work.
The tremendously talented designer believes in girls of color to flatter the fashion world, “When I have the power to book people, I really love to [book girls of color]” “I mean the beauty in Africa is so diverse it kind of shows also the beauty of the world.” Being able to put African girls in his shoots has helped a lot in his fashion journey, “because I feel like African women have this elegance of mixing colors like no one else can.”
When asked to creative direct Parisian fashion title L’Officiel’s 90th anniversary edition, he insisted the magazine put a woman of color on the cover. The magazine was keen to have someone who could sell advertising and was well known in France. They suggested Halle Berry but he insisted on Beyonce whom he later enlisted for the shoot.
The stylist who is originally from West Africa wanted to pay homage to his heritage and more importantly to African women. Today he is at the helm of the fashion magazine’s September issue entirely dedicated to the African continent. Featuring the likes of Iman and Ajak Deng, the issue pays homage to the great continent of possibilities.