Unpretentious, transparent, engaging, confident, funny – those are just a few of the words that spring to mind when I reflect on my interview with the fabulous Kyle De’Volle. A true industry insider, De’Volle’s contacts are second to none in the worlds of fashion and celebrity. He has a powerful social-media presence, and has become renowned for his ambassador roles for Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances and carbon-negative diamond company Skydiamond.
Hailing from a culturally diverse background – he has an Irish-Jamaican mother and a Scottish father – had a huge impact on who he is. Growing up in Ladbroke Grove in a working-class family, he was not encouraged to express himself, so opportunities to flourish and shine were tempered. When he first told his mum he wanted to be a stylist she replied, “What’s that?”
His childhood was turbulent; both parents struggled with addictions, and he lived with his mother. Unfortunately, her constant battle with her demons eventually resulted in De’Volle’s removal and placement into foster care at the age of 11 – an age when every young person, regardless of circumstances, is struggling with their identity in one form or another. So this upheaval only served to quash his emerging identity. It wasn’t until he was placed with a wonderful Colombian woman by the name of Matilda – who subsequently adopted him when he was 13 – that he finally realised what it was like to be unconditionally loved and accepted.
“You need to be the change to make a change.”
– Kyle De’Volle
De’Volle’s teenage years with Matilda were almost a revelation. He was finally able to be a child and start expressing himself without judgment or recrimination. Playing with Barbie dolls, he and Matilda used to create outfits, which fuelled his passion for fashion. It was the confidence instilled in him by Matilda that led him to explore opportunities in that world – assisting where he could, and then approaching up-and-coming artists.
In his career as a stylist, he has worked with an impressive number of A-listers including Cara Delevingne, Bruno Mars, Andreja Pejić and Stooshe, to name but a few. His television and editorial credits include The X Factor, The Voice UK, the MOBO Awards, Britain’s Got Talent, MTV, and Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Tatler, Féroce and Mixte magazines. I ask about his association with Rita Ora, with whom he worked for years, and it transpires that they grew up together and were very close. She was a model in one of his first fashion shows, so becoming her stylist was almost a natural transition. “Travelling the world with my best friend was an epic experience,” he says.
In 2018, he was approached by Jean Paul Gaultier to become a fragrance ambassador. As a designer, Gaultier is known for innovative and boundary-pushing designs that play with gender fluidity. His work celebrates the beauty of individuality and encourages self-expression, making him a powerful voice for inclusivity in fashion. De’Volle’s association with the brand involves working closely with the fashion team as well, and travelling the world promoting the fragrances and shooting campaigns, which are celebrations of beauty and gender fluidity. Since 2018, De’Volle has worked with Jean Paul Gaultier as fragrance ambassador, promoting the fragrances and shooting campaigns, which are celebrations of beauty and gender fluidity.
Since 2018, De’Volle has worked with Jean Paul Gaultier as fragrance ambassador, promoting the fragrances and shooting campaigns, which are celebrations of beauty and gender fluidity.
His relationship with Skydiamond had a more fortuitous origin; last December he was invited to the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards. The outfit, make-up and hair team were all in place; however, De’Volle had left accessories until the last minute. Having been let down by another brand, his team reached out to Dahlia Nahome, Marketing Director at Skydiamond, who came to the rescue. At the awards, De’Volle met the brand’s founder, Dale Vince, and immediately fell in love with the pioneering entrepreneur.
De’Volle was subsequently invited to a meeting with Skydiamond. The brand goes beyond sustainability; rather than being carbon neutral, they are actually carbon negative, using only 100 percent renewable energy, captured rainwater and CO2. Diamonds are made from carbon and, thanks to pollution, there’s plenty of it in the atmosphere. Sky- and earth-mined diamonds are physically and chemically identical; only a gemmologist would be able to differentiate them. And part of the beauty of Skydiamonds is that they are virtually plucked from the sky.
A born disruptor, when De’Volle discovered the groundbreaking nature and ethos of the product, he felt an immediate connection with the company. “They could have taken the usual marketing route of a pretty girl sporting a sparkly diamond,” he comments. “But instead they took a risk on me, for which I am profoundly proud and grateful.” De’Volle will be showcasing Skydiamond’s Love range, which consists of engagement rings, wedding bands, eternity and commitment bands that represent 21st-century love – a love that has no boundaries, is inclusive, and shows respect for the planet and its inhabitants. Love is seen as a form of disruption – but of the most positive kind. “You need to be the change to make a change,” he says. One only has to look at the outfits he’s worn to red-carpet events to see that he is the change, and the embodiment of his guiding principle: “Shine bright and be yourself. Never compromise your integrity or your character for anything or anyone because that’s your soul, and you should never ever give up on your soul.”
One of the biggest influences on De’Volle is David Bowie, who, with his global fame and androgynous looks, paved the path for other rebels like De’Volle.
De’Volle enjoys courting controversy as a tool to encourage people to love themselves and embrace self-expression. “We all get so caught up in this rat race and this cycle of being the same, and being pretty. I just think it’s boring,” he says. “We have been given the amazing opportunity of life, and we are all unique. I find it bizarre that so many people want to suppress their uniqueness in an attempt to fit in.”
When I ask about his influences, De’Volle cites David Bowie. He declares that he’s Bowie’s No.1 fan, and has named his King Charles Spaniel after the chameleonic singer. Incidentally, the canine Bowie has a patch on his face that is reminiscent of the make-up human Bowie wore on the cover of his iconic 1973 album Aladdin Sane. However boundary-pushing De’Volle is, he says he believes that the current trend of identifying as non-binary or gender-fluid is a double-edged sword. “On the one hand, being able to identify yourself utilising all of the terms and pronouns we have now adopted is probably very liberating for some,” he says. “But we run the risk of creating a society of segregation, isolation and uncertainty, almost suppressing the fundamental elements available to people that have existed for a lot longer. You can still be a man or a woman without being an ‘it.’”
It is impossible not to ask De’Volle if he thinks that maybe we are taking this movement too far – if what had previously been considered “progress” might actually culminate in divisions. He doesn’t hesitate in his answer: “Yes, it’s almost as if the sexes are now in a battle with each other. For as long as I can think of, the Western world has been dominated by men and their egos, which encouraged them to flourish and shine. Nowadays, if a woman needs a shelf putting up, she can either call TaskRabbit or do it herself, leaving the man feeling redundant. This has resulted in a build-up of anger, which appears to have been projected onto the gay community in order to deflect from media propaganda. The supremacy of the traditional man is now being contested, and that is making them uncomfortable and scared. And with fear comes intolerance.”
“My 10-year goal would be for the world to be a lot more accepting of everyone, including their flaws and individuality, empowering people to be who they want to be.”
– Kyle De’Volle
Personally, De’Volle identifies as a man – albeit “a feminine man, passionate about femininity,” he says. “Everyone seems to be terribly scared of having an opinion on this – and don’t get me wrong, if your opinions are negative and destructive, keep them to yourself – but if they have the potential to inspire others, by all means shout them from the rooftops.”
He shares with me that a lot of what he does is for his inner child (which has been brought to the fore through therapy), in order to come to terms with who he was, who he is, and deal with past suppression and ignorance. “My 10-year goal would be for the world to be a lot more accepting of everyone, including their flaws and individuality, empowering people to be who they want to be,” he says. He refers in particular to the transgender community, and the challenges and discrimination they face in their daily lives, which can result in mental-health issues.
While other communities feel confident about expressing themselves in a world that equates “normal” with heterosexual, some in the trans community do not feel they have a voice at all. “If I were going to give advice to anyone, I would say that finding yourself, and enjoying the journey of discovering who you truly are, is the key to being happy in this life. This doesn’t happen overnight, though,” he says. “It takes work and dedication. Block out the noise of negative opinions and actively embrace the positives – do what’s right for you.”
Words: Shelley Campbell