The style evolution of Maya Jama

Maya Jama attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 after-party at the Grosvenor House Hotel (Tristan Fewings / Getty Images))
Maya Jama attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 after-party at the Grosvenor House Hotel (Tristan Fewings / Getty Images))

It’s safe to say that Maya Jama, the presenter and DJ who opened Love Island series nine last night (January 16) as the show’s latest host, can add ‘fashion inspo’ to her growing list of icon credentials, right next to her other accolades of ‘National Treasure’ and ’Once Made Stormzy Very Happy’.

Jama, 28, stepped out in a red hand-knitted two-piece for her first outing as Love Island host yesterday evening, cementing herself as the nation’s female best friend — the kind whose wardrobe you want permanent access to.

But Jama hasn’t always had such an enviable closet, and her red-carpet appearances were once a lot more Topshop than haute couture.

Take her 2017 appearance alongside then-boyfriend Stormzy at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, where Jama could be seen in a simple coral strapless dress with a thigh slit. It fitted well, as Jama’s looks always do, but it’s a far cry from her black velvet, full-train, Pretty Woman off-the-shoulder gown she wore to the 2020 Brit Awards, or the metallic off-white cut-out party look, worn back in November.

A pared back Maya Jama and Stormzy, pre-fashion icon days (Ian West / PA)
A pared back Maya Jama and Stormzy, pre-fashion icon days (Ian West / PA)

This is because Jama first established herself in the fashion consciousness as an off-duty kind of dresser — bodycon and snatched waists, yes, but casual vibes first and foremost. This landed her brand partnerships with the likes of Adidas and JD Sports, keeping her close to the heart of sportswear. But, while Jama was showing off her athleisure looks on Instagram, she started opting for an entirely different attitude on the red carpet— big, bold and hyper-feminine.

Maya Jama at the Brit Awards 2019 (Jeff Spicer / Getty Images)
Maya Jama at the Brit Awards 2019 (Jeff Spicer / Getty Images)

For the 2019 Brits, Jama wore a Molly Goddard-esque frilled nude gown, made by LouLou. Then, in June that year, she attended the Serpentine Gallery’s Summer Party, in partnership with Chanel, wearing a billowing navy-blue gown by French designer Alexis Mabille.

And by September she had gone full Birth of Venus, turning up to the GQ Men of the Year Awards in a short-sleeved crystal-embellished gown, with a nude bodice beneath.

Maya Jama at the GQ Men of the Year Awards (Jeff Spicer / Getty Images)
Maya Jama at the GQ Men of the Year Awards (Jeff Spicer / Getty Images)

She has risen like a phoenix from the coral strapless ashes, and continued to bring her A-game to each red carpet henceforth. In turn, Jama’s off-duty fashion started to become a little bit more “on duty”, bit by bit.

At a launch for sports platform DAZN in 2021, Jama outdid the other guests by arriving in a moss-green, sheer puff-sleeved bodice with tailored trousers — marking the end of her time on the “casual” end of the smart-casual scale.

Maya Jama at an exclusive event to celebrate the UK launch of DAZN (Antony Jones / Getty Images for DA)
Maya Jama at an exclusive event to celebrate the UK launch of DAZN (Antony Jones / Getty Images for DA)

During a Soccer Aid event last year, she displayed a cute leather moment with a full sapphire blue-leather look — a necessary slice of fashion that we could have desperately used amid the dull World Cup coverage outfits beaming onto our screens from Qatar.

But Love Island is the altar at which this country prays, and so Jama’s true ascent to becoming the UK’s fave fashion “inspo” began last night, when she stepped into the South African villa ready to play Cupid.

Maya Jama: Love Island 2023

(Maya Jama )
(Maya Jama )
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(Maya Jama )
(Maya Jama )
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(ITV2 / Love Island)
(ITV2 / Love Island)
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Jama did not disappoint. She wore a Roberto Cavalli tropical maxi dress for one of her slow-mo entrances (of which there are many more to come), as well as a Rat and Boa dress and a Mônot black gown.

The best look of all was her bright red, crochet two-piece, which turned out to be from small independent London-based brand Crolage.

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Jama has commenced an eight-week fashion tour of the UK’s Twitter and Instagram, and her reign is undeniable — the original off-duty gal has clocked in as a full-time fashion girlie now.

For Maya Jama’s best looks, flick through the gallery above.