Diyana Zainul Ehsan talks to Kasmiah Mustapha about her incredible journey
BEHIND a well-draped tudung is a brilliant hijab stylist and for many tudung-wearing local celebrities, the number to call is that of Diyana Zainul Ehsan, also known as @ didiyanaehsan on Instagram.
She is Neelofa's tudung stylist. She has styled the tudung for Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Natasha Hudson and Mimpikita designer Nurul Zulkifli.
Upscale tudung brand dUCk invited her for a session before Hari Raya to show to dUCkies the various ways the square and rectangle shawls can be worn.
When actress Ummi Nazeera got married, it was Diyana who was responsible for her well-crafted headgear to match her lavish wedding outfits.
For the past six years, Diyana, 28, a self-taught stylist, is the go-to-person for hijab-wearing celebrities who want simple and flawless style.
Highly sought-after, Diyana has worked with celebrities for magazine photoshoots.
Her clients include her Instagram followers, who often fill up her hijab styling workshops and classes.
Diyana has travelled with Neelofa to various magazine and campaign photoshoots and red carpet events in Los Angeles, Istanbul, Paris and London, among others.
For the degree holder in Fashion Design from Universiti Teknologi Mara, the job offers her an opportunity to showcase the hijab style that she had created and perfected over the years.
"Since I became Neelofa's hijab stylist, people have started following her style. Draping can't go wrong, whether she is wearing clothes with embellishments or just a simple outfit.
"Although I wear the hijab, I don't have a specific style although one of the subjects in my fashion design course is draping."
Diyana's journey to become a household name in hijab styling began when she was a fashion intern at The Old Blossom Box Store.
"I was just an intern at a boutique at that time and some customers asked if there was a hijab style that matched their clothes." Diyana then worked part-time at tudung brand Aidijuma and In Trend g magazine during her final year. It was an opportunity to hone her skills as well as build her contacts.
Through word-of-mouth, Diyana built her reputation and her celebrity clientele grew to include Aidijuma founder Datin Norjuma Habib Mohamed, Natasha Hudson, Ziana Zain and Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza.
"Initially, people were curious why I always hung around during photoshoots. I was the only hijab stylist back then.
"Well, if there are hairstylists, why shouldn't there be a stylist for hijab wearers?"
Diyana learnt her craft from YouTube videos and blogs besides reading up on it. Over the years, she has changed her style to a "simple and clean" look.
"If you look at my earlier work, there was too much going on. At that time, people preferred flair like designer Hana Tajima's style.
"But now there is a preference for a less complicated style. To ensure people can adapt to the style, I make sure it is easy to follow. To me, less is more.
"The drape style only needs a few twists and turns. You can either have one end of the hijab over your shoulder or at the back with layers of pleats covering your neck and chest."
Now with more than 30,000 followers on Instagram, she uses the hashtag #drapebydidi as the style mark.
Diyana says although she is Neelofa's hijab stylist, she also works for others. "The flexibility allows me to work with magazines for their photoshoots.I also hold hijab styling workshops every three or five months.
"I get requests on my Instagram for weddings and events too."
Before she styles a hijab, she gets to know the client's preference. If the client prefers full cover, the hijab size must be big so that the drape is loose and long in front.
"However, I can only determine the final look when I have the material in hand. Certain materials may not work with certain styles.
"Also, the shape of a person's face will determine whether I need to make the hijab looser or otherwise. People with round faces may not look good if the hijab is too tight."
Diyana says some women are surprised when she tells them there are many ways to style a hijab — be it the square, shawl or instant version. It can be as simple as just draping the hijab over your shoulders or twisting it around.
"I started with the square hijab which is not easy to style. But it is a good learning tool because I managed to create various styles from it.
"You'd be surprised that the square hijab will look quite different as there are more than 10 ways to wear it."
For those who feel it is not important to be stylish with hijab, Diyana says it is a wrong perception because it is as important as wearing the perfect attire.
"Wearing the hijab should not be the reason you cannot be fashionable. When you have the perfect attire and hijab style, it will boost your confidence and make you feel good about yourself.
"The best way is to find a style that suits you because just like a bad hair day, you can also have a bad hijab day."
She says although most of the tutorial videos and photos in the magazines are focused on younger women, it does not mean the styles are not suitable for older women.
"Older women may feel comfortable with their familiar style but it is time for a makeover. Go ahead and try a different style, especially for daily wear. You will be surprised with the change. I'm sure people will comment on the difference too."
Diyana says while she loves being a hijab stylist, she has no intention on creating her own hijab brand or fashion line despite having a degree in fashion design.
"I am not good at business. I stopped designing clothes two years ago to concentrate on hijab styling. I choose to be in this field as I love it, although my parents keep asking when I am going back to fashion design."
As for her personal style, she says it depends on her attire but she always chooses a style that she is comfortable with.
"Like I said, less is more. As long as it is simple and suits my clothes for the day, I'm good."