Meet Ade Samuel, the Boundary-Breaking Stylist Behind the Red Carpet’s Newest Stars

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Meet Ade Samuel, the Boundary-Breaking Stylist Behind the Red Carpet’s Newest Stars
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Photo: Getty Images/STYLECASTER

Never underestimate the power of a mentor—or a good pair of shoes. Ade Samuel can credit both for giving her a leg up over the years, from her days as an intern at W magazine and Teen Vogue in New York to her current job as the stylist behind Yara Shahidi, Kelly Rowland, Jhené Aiko, and Big Sean‘s red carpet looks.

Born in the Bronx, Samuel worked her way up the editorial ladder in New York before making the move to styling, assisting editors like Shiona Turini and James Worthington Demolet and forging relationships that would later lead to magazine gigs and put her on the set of several major music videos (when you get the call to help call in pieces for Beyoncé’s “Formation” video, you better believe you answer). In 2013, she made the move to the West Coast—where, needless to say, celebrity is big business—and soon was working with stars like Nicole Richie and Miley Cyrus as the assistant to stylist Simone Harouche.

Branching out on her own was something of a leap of faith, but she had good luck: her first clients were Big Sean and Shahidi, the 16-year-old “Black-ish” star who’s garnered praise as an outspoken feminist voice in young Hollywood, and who Samuel met on set for Essence’s much-celebrated Black Girl Magic issue. The covers they shot sparked Twitter-trending conversations as soon as they hit the internet, but at the time, neither had any idea of the impact they’d make on the dialogue. “As soon as the conversation was open, and I saw that term become coined as something that was empowering for women, it was just an eye-opener,” she says. “I didn’t expect that at all.”

MORE: This Cool-Girl Illustrator Is Making Feminist Clothes for the Instagram Set

She was cognizant, however, that it was an important discussion to be a part of, not only as of the few African-American women in the celebrity styling industry, but also, since founding her eponymous shoe line in late 2015, as one of the even fewer at the helm of a footwear brand. “Yara was one of the first people to believe in me as that young girl who is able to have that creativity and create a style house on her own.”

Ade Samuel Photo: Getty Images

Ade Samuel
Photo: Getty Images

The first collection, a red-carpet-ready selection of strappy pumps and stiletto sandals, was a passion project several years in the making. “I invested in myself. I didn’t have an investor—I just saved, saved, saved, and took the money that I saved and did the research and figured out how to develop my own line,” says Samuel. “I went to Italy, worked with different illustrators, produced it in Florence, and it was just the journey that I knew I had to take.”

Still, while she’s proud of her accomplishments so far, she knows there’s far to go yet. “When I think about the industry and I think about what’s missing—one, you talk about the African-American celebrity stylist, and there’s not many women that are out there. But then you also talk about shoes on a larger scale, and there are not a lot of women designers who have shoe brands. You know, there’s Jimmy Choo, Sergio Rossi, Christian Louboutin, Aquazzura—these are all men making women’s shoes. Why is there not a woman that’s as big as them?” Why, indeed.

With that in mind, Samuel has big plans for her footwear line in the coming year, starting with an upcoming re-brand and marketing push.

Robyn Shoe, $550; at Ade Samuel https://adesamuel.com/product/robyn/

Robyn Shoe, $550; at Ade Samuel

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She also hopes to add more clients to her repertoire—and considering the range of her talents, it’ll be exciting to see who’s next. While some stylists build a career dressing stars essentially in their image (as anyone who followed the Zoebots of 2007 knows all too well), Samuel is more interested in tapping in to what makes the women (and man) she works with unique, and celebrating that through fashion.

“Sometimes I cringe when I see stylists that have multiple clients and they all look almost the same, you know?” says Samuel. “I think for me it’s just being able to allow each of my clients to have their own voice, because they are all different. Jhené is soulful, kind of electric—hippy-like with a more bohemian style. Kelly is an elegant, strong woman who has sass and has an amazing body and is very interested in fashion. And Yara is very fashion-forward, but she still understands that she’s 16, so I wouldn’t do the more sexy, revealing pieces looks that I do with Kelly and Jhené.”

“I listen to my clients, I pay attention to what they like, and I pay attention to their own personal wardrobe as well,” she says. “I think my biggest thing is just researching them and knowing their personalities and what they gravitate towards naturally, and then I go from there.”

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Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Stella McCartney at the 23rd Annual ELLE Women In Hollywood Awards.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Clara Rotescu at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Sophie Theallet at Audi Celebrates the 68th Emmys.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In DVF at the 2016 BET Awards.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Tracy Reese at the 2016 BET Awards.

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Michelle Obama and Yara Shahidi
Michelle Obama and Yara Shahidi

In Alberta Ferretti in a panel discussion at Glamour Hosts 'A Brighter Future: A Global Conversation on Girls' Education.'

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

At the Disney ABC Television Group TCA Summer Press Tour.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

At Pilot Pen and GBK's Pre-Emmy Luxury Lounge.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

At the Television Academy reception for Emmy nominated performers.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Tadashi Shoji at the 1st Annual Marie Claire Young Women's Honors.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In a Zimmermann blazer, Houghton jumpsuit, and Ade Samuel shoes at Entertainment Weekly's 2016 Pre-Emmy party.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Philipp Plein at the 2016 Vanity Fair Social Club.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

At Teen Vogue Celebrates the 14th Annual Young Hollywood Issue Event.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Cynthia Rowley at Glamour's Women of the Year 2016.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

At the 2016 Ebony Power 100 Gala.

Photo: Getty Images
Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi

In Zimmermann at NYLON Nights Los Angeles, in celebration of the October It Girl issue.

Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland

In Akris for Hollywood Reporter Power 100 event.

Photo: instagram / @kellyrowland
Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland

In Chloé at the premiere of Paramount Pictures' 'Office Christmas Party'.

Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland

In Edun at the 2016 March of Dimes Celebration of Babies.

Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland

In Herlorocha at the GQ Men of the Year party.

Photo: Getty Images
Kelly and Titan Rowland
Kelly and Titan Rowland

In Phelmuns at the premiere of Universal Pictures' 'Sing.'

Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland

In Mario Dice the 2016 Ebony Power 100 Gala.

Photo: Getty Images
Big Sean and Jhene Aiko
Big Sean and Jhene Aiko

At a basketball game between Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Photo: Getty Images
Jhené Aiko
Jhené Aiko

In Bec and Bridge at the DL1961 x Jessica Alba Collection event.

Photo: Getty Images
Jhené Aiko
Jhené Aiko

At the High Road Summer Tour.

Photo: Getty Images
Big Sean and Jhené Aiko
Big Sean and Jhené Aiko

At Flaunt Magazine and AG celebration of 'Foreplay'.

Photo: Getty Images
Jhené Aiko and Big Sean
Jhené Aiko and Big Sean

In Kids of Immigrants, performing during the Power 106 Presents Powerhouse.

Photo: Getty Images
Big Sean, Jhené Aiko, and Jeremy Scott
Big Sean, Jhené Aiko, and Jeremy Scott

In Moschino at the Moschino Spring/Summer 17 Menswear and Women's Resort Collection.

Photo: Getty Images
Jhené Aiko
Jhené Aiko

In Moschino, performing in support of Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa during 'The High Road Tour'.

Photo: Getty Images
Big Sean
Big Sean

In Ermenegildo Zegna at the 58th Grammy Awards.

Photo: Getty Images
Big Sean
Big Sean

In a Mr Completely shirt and Sacai jacket at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.

Photo: Getty Images

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