If you happen to be at an event and wondering who the dapper young man photographing only the most fashion-forward folk in attendance is, chances are it would be Malibongwe Tylio, a veritable one-man style police and creator of the style blog, Skattie, What Are You Wearing? Armed with little more than a camera phone (“It’s actually a shitty little camera... I really need to get myself an iPhone,” he laughs) and a healthy helping of humour, Tyilo’s single-minded determination to, sartorially speaking, separate the savvy from the staid has seen to it that, in the few months since its inception, Skattie ... has gained a steady following of jaded fashionistas.
Though style blogs are a dime a dozen they tend to follow the more serious – albeit highly successful - formula of the ‘granddaddy of style blogs’, The Sartorialist (wwwthesartorialist.blogspot.com). Skattie..., as you might have guessed by its name, is however steeped in humour and irreverence. With entry titles ranging from ‘Somebody, Anybody, Make the Arts Fashionable Again’ (followed shortly by ‘It’s Safe to Come out – the Arts Are Fashionable Again’) and ‘Mi Kasie es Su Casa’ to – my personal favourite – ‘F**off, It’s Directional’, this ex-London International School of Fashion student is clearly enjoying having a bit of a laugh. And it is not only this approach that has garnered it hundreds of loyal well-heeled followers.
For singer and aspirant designer, Lindiwe Suttle (and, yes, Felicia’s daughter) - who risked life and couture-covered limb to secretly photograph the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective at Paris’ Petit Palais for the blog - its appeal lies in the fact that “it showcases such a diverse group of South African fashionistas”. Indeed. Though most of the blog’s entries focus on Cape Town’s notoriously self-conscious shi-shi gallery-hopping set, Tyilo also turns his aesthetically astute eye to everything from Sunday get-togethers in Gughulethu to dinner parties with New York-based art historian, author, critic and curator, RoseLee Goldberg (“She loves the blog,” he says with pride) to wild nights out with retro-cool gay boys on the streets of Manhattan –with the odd hidden shopping gem thrown into the already schizophrenic mix.
Outré designer Jamakazi Thelejane is another loyal follower. “This isn’t being done by some Drum (magazine) stylist claiming to be an authority on fashion. Malibongwe mixes elements so that it is not just couture or high fashion. What is really great about it, though, is that the South African fashion scene is desperately in need of strong fashion voices – voices that aren’t afraid to show us that there is actually life beyond Stoned Cherrie and David Tlale ... this could easily be that voice.”
Tyilo shies away from this kind of praise when he acknowledges that “deciding what is stylish sometimes feels a bit egotistical”. He does however admit that his occupation as a buyer for a leading clothing retailer, which has him “make decisions on a daily as to what goes out there”, allows him to be cut-throat around what is an outfit and what is, well, out. “Also,” he adds, “I am surrounded by people who think in ‘looks’. They believe in it. For them, the look is life.”
Though initially intended to be a YouTube show looking a people for whom life clearly does not revolve around ‘the look’ (such as his hilarious entry on the garish fashion at the recent Fleur Du Cap Awards), the concept quickly morphed into something a bit more celebratory. “I really just want to celebrate and encourage the idea of personal style - to let people know that true personal style exists and get them excited about putting together a look and going out.”
Any sage words of wisdom for the sartorially challenged among us on how exactly to go about doing this? “It’s simple,” he says without missing a beat, “Celebrate yourself and enjoy your hotness.” Then, with his trademark mischievous smile, cautions: “But don’t be under any illusions either – there’s hot and there’s not.”