Celebrity stylist and media personality, Delvon Johnson, has a story to tell – one that exceeds far beyond the pages of his new fashion-themed, Mirror Mirror. It’s Johnson’s third book, following the success of his critically acclaimed Love Yourself First and its sequel, Be Careful What You Ask For.
Making a name for himself as an author with an authentic voice and unique individual style, Johnson has also effortlessly invented a public persona that exudes eye-catching personal style, humor, and down-to-earth approachability. Take, for example, his signature red carpet looks of androgynous perfection, complete with impossibly high stilettos and always accented with a skillfully paired clutch or handbag in tow under either of his long, couture-ready arms.
Yet, still, there is more to Johnson’s story than meets the eye. Along with living a happy life of glittery premieres, VIP access, fashion shows, and celebrity encounters, Johnson, in recent years, has also had to adjust to life as a dialysis patient to treat a kidney condition.
Just a few years back, he was working in a corporate job, one that paid the bills, although, as he shares, it wasn’t the most exciting job in the world. He longed for the opportunity to work in a more creative field in which he could summon his passion for color, art, and fashion. However, he had no idea how or when that opportunity might present itself, if ever.
Then, one day, the unexpected occurred. Johnson fell ill with painful symptoms that, over time, led to hospitalization. After a series of tests to find the origin of the problem, a diagnosis of Renal Failure was made. He would need to rely upon dialysis indefinitely until the time came to undergo a kidney transplant.
Dealing with this new medical condition was an obstacle Johnson had never even imagined, nor was the additional adversity of being in the midst of a volatile breakup with his partner. As Johnson describes it, the break up was not a good one. He and his ex are cordial now, but at the time, it was fueled by resentment on both sides,
“It was tough going through kidney failure and dealing with relationship issues at the same time. I was furious about the breakup, as happens in many cases, no matter who’s right or wrong, and I remember, I sort of wanted revenge in some way.”
Johnson would soon become adjusted to life being single, and on dialysis. He continued visiting the hospital routinely for his treatments, and it was during one of these extended medical visits that he had a revelation:
“Well, it’s not the circumstance I would have wished for “… he thought, “… but I’m free from that dead-end job at least. So now what?”
With hours to kill while receiving his dialysis each week, the breakup revenge Johnson had pondered began to take shape in a most creative way – a book, based on his tumultuous relationship with his ex. Writing during his treatments became emotional therapy and allowed creativity to flow. In a bizarre twist of fate, Johnson’s renal failure became the catalyst for him to write, which led to his novel, Love Yourself First. This fiction debut is a fabulous look into the fashion industry and the divas that clip and claw their way to make it to the top, however, wedged within the story are two characters based on Johnson and his ex and their troubled relationship.
Love Yourself First became a success, giving birth to vibrant, colorful New York City characters, and it not only launched Johnson’s career as an author, but it also jumpstarted his career as a celebrity stylist and media personality. Still maintaining his wellness today, Johnson has just released his lasted book, entitled Mirror Mirror. As he explains it,
“Mirror Mirror is a third sequel, where you’re brought back into the world of New York City’s elite fashion scene and catching up the characters Dwight, Isaiah, and the oh-so-fabulous diva herself, Ms. Joan Marks!”
If ever there’s been a story of turning hard knocks into a triumph, that story belongs to Delvon Johnson. I caught up with him recently at his book signing fashion event held at the iconic Lord & Taylor department store, and I asked him a few questions about his journey and what he’s learned along the way:
CA: Delvon, Congrats on your new book, Mirror Mirror! You mentioned you wrote your first novel as an outlet after a painful breakup and it was loosely based on your relationship with your ex. So how much of the real story made it into the book?
DJ: My debut novel, Love Yourself First, has a lot of similarities to what was going on in my life at the time. I was going through a lot at that moment and writing the book was a terrific outlet, so it hits on a lot of real things that were happening at the time. Of course, names were changed. It was also an exciting opportunity for me to use my creative writing skills and create a character depicting myself as a person I could only wish to be. There are also a lot of small fun points that people could enjoy while reading. For example, the name of Dwight (who is the depiction of me) starts his fashion consulting company (which was fiction at the time and a dream that I could only imagine having. It was named Vondel Consulting) That’s my first name backward. Vondel / Delvon! There are a lot of parallels in the book as well, which I didn’t disclose. I let people who were real characters in the book figure out for themselves that they were characters, which made it a lot of fun.
CA: Your story is an amazing one of triumph over tragedy. How did you and do you keep going and staying positive through all you’ve endured.
DJ: Over the years, I have learned that in life, things happen. I had to look at things from a different perspective. I’m always looking to turn a negative situation into a positive one. And I just looked at it as a part of my journey. As for the clients I was working with at the time styling, they didn’t know. It wasn’t until years later that I began to live in my truth and be proud and blessed to be able to do all the things I’m doing and talk about it to others in an attempt to be an inspiration to others that are on dialysis. And currently, people are very inspired to see what I do and actually amazed that I find the strength and endurance to do it. I count my blessings every day to be able to follow my dreams so vigorously and not allow my disability to stop me from achieving.
CA: You have great style and a fun time gender-bending and breaking gender rules when it comes to fashion. Have you always been this way?
DJ: No. It was actually gradual. I have always loved fashion, but being so slim (before there was an H&M), I could never find clothes that fit me the way I wanted to. So it started with wearing girl’s clothes and clothing from the kid’s department in size large. Then, when it came to my shoes, men’s shoes over the years began to bore me. I saw Lenny Kravitz wearing a pair of high wedges in a fashion magazine, and I followed suit. It wasn’t long before I graduated from wearing the highest wedges I could find – to the highest heels I could find. I think my shoes and my bags have become my signature. As for my bags, I didn’t care. I love designer bags, and the reactions I got as I moved into the mainstream industry for my bold style took on a life of its own, and I love it. I was no longer just a face in the crowd, and I had the resume to match the look.
CA: So if a reader has not read the previous books of the series, will they still understand and enjoy Mirror Mirror?
DJ: Yes. Mirror Mirror is the 2nd edition from my first sequel, which was called Be Careful What You Ask For. At the time it was released, I was in the process of developing my company, Fashion In The Fast Lane, and was offered an e-book publishing deal, which turned into a complete disaster. The company put the book out unedited and shortly folded. So, my second book never really got the traction that I wanted for it. I then decided to release an updated version (2017) with some changes and edited properly. That is why I named it Mirror Mirror because it is a reflection of Be Careful What You Ask For. Mirror Mirror can stand alone, and it’s an enjoyable read, but it’s almost like watching a sequel to a movie. It always makes more sense when you watch the first one. You understand the storyline so much more.
CA: Who is your favorite of every celebrity you’ve styled?
DJ: My favorite celebrity to style was Mama Dee from Vh1’s Love and Hip Hop. The designer that I was working with had dressed everybody from Fantasia to Janet Jackson, and Mama Dee was one of my first celebrity clients. So when we arrived at the designer’s studio, and I saw all of the fabulous clothes I had to work with, I was like a kid in a candy store! It was stressful but fun. And Mama Dee was one of the most charming celebrities I have ever had the chance to work with. She is very maternal, and yes, she is serious about being the Queen! And I had to style her as such. In fact, the diamond bracelet that I was wearing sealed he look I styled for her.
Visit Delvon Johnson Online For More Info on ‘Mirror Mirror’ And His Past Releases