I recently had the pleasure to meet and chat with Daniela D’Amico, a new upcoming London women’s wear designer who just launched her own label this year. Making a successful career inside the fashion industry is a dream not all designers can achieve overnight. But with intense hard work and dedication, the possibilities are many. And Ms. D’Amico is one of many other designers who have one goal in mind: making their name (that being through clothes) known all over the world.
Having studied and graduated from the prestigious London College of Fashion and Chelsea College of Art, and worked for a very popular designer, she’s now gradually working on making her own masculine silhouettes with a touch of feminine prints a signature of her brand. She was very kind to share some experiences she’s gone through as she’s still developing her brand, finding an identity in the fashion industry, and about her spring 2014 debut collection.
1. Tell me how did you get involved into fashion?
It was from school where I first gained experienced in the fashion industry. I went on work experience for a few weeks at the age of 16 with a friend’s mum who was a wedding dress designer. I was totally blown over by her work life, the studio she worked in, and the way that she worked. I enjoyed myself so much taking part in the photo shoots, watching the designers sketching, sampling, and playing with fabrics. Since then, I knew this was the path that I wished to take.
2. You studied at top Fashion colleges in London, worked for a menswear tailor for 4 years, and later went on to work for designer, Selina Blow, as studio head designer; it sounds like you’ve been moving quite fast and confidently. Did working with other studios motivate you to start your own brand?
Since being at Art College, I always knew I wanted to have my own brand. While I was studying, I interned with a design house and tailor, and gained experienced that way. When I graduated, I spent a lot of time working with Selina Blow and her design house where I learnt a lot from sampling, fabric buying, to fittings, gaining knowledge from each department. After gaining experience from being in a fast moving design house, it was then that I thought it was time to set up on my own. Taking everything I had learned with me and pushing it forward onto new and exciting things.
3. Anyone who is in the marketing side of fashion knows that starting a fashion line is not as easy as it may sound. Were there any difficulties you encountered while developing your brand?
It is hard work setting up a brand especially within Fashion. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of people around me that help in terms of sampling and manufacturing. And I design and print my own fabrics, and make my own patterns. The hardest part is creating exposure with your brand, but with the internet now we are quite lucky. You just have to keep your head up, use your initiative, and keep going. Never let anyone take your dreams away.
4. Now that you're able to produce a collection, I’d assume you have a team who helps you out by taking over some important roles, while you concentrate on bigger ones. Social media seems to be something extremely crucial in keeping a business alive today. Do you use any of these platforms for the benefit of your business?
Instagram plays a big part in the brand, Daniela D’Amico. It’s a good way of letting people know what you are up to, what happens, and how things happen at Daniela D’Amico’s HQ. Currently the business is quite small, so we are a small team. But each one of us has an important role within the business. As you know, social media is very important these days. It’s something one must really keep on top of, but it’s enjoyable too.
5. So let’s talk about your new collection that includes quite a number of items for D’Amico’s first year – pants, dresses, jackets, and tops. Would you say you’re taking some risks being that most designers start their years working mostly with dresses or one certain specific item?
I suppose I am taking quite a big risk including quite a few different styles within the collection, but I like to know that the Daniela D’Amico customer can work an outfit with the collection. If she wants to wear a statement, – well-tailored trousers with a plain top – she can. And later on if she needs to cover up with a jacket she can. There is something for every occasion and every day. Every woman should have a statement coat that they can really rely on, but also a really well fitted pair of trousers, skirt and dress.
6. Part of the collection is mostly inspired by your ancestral home of Lake Como, Italy – a gorgeous place to take inspiration from. I see your influence in this collection seems to be your intricate prints. How exactly did you come up with these particular ideas of prints?
I have always spent a lot of time in Como - since the age of 5. I can remember staying there in the summer months and always being so overwhelmed by the picturesque views of the mountains and the still lake. The place has always inspired me and my work – from the people who live there to the place itself. When it came to producing my first collection I really wanted to have some fun playing with prints I had created, and the way I would work them into silhouettes to enhance the female figure. It was challenging, but I loved every minute.
7. Your silhouettes also seem to echo a relaxed-masculine tailoring with a hint of an androgynous touch. You come from an Italian background and live in London now. I can see a mixture of Italian craftsmanship with that of the London environment. Would this be how you vision Daniela D’Amico to be like for other collections along the way?
You are exactly right! This is the brand identity I want to keep. I love British tailoring and the old English gentleman style. I want women to look and feel sexy in tailoring without looking and feeling like they are wearing a piece of menswear. By finishing each garment with a soft feminine touch, – may that be with my use of textile or print – I want women to feel sexy and feminine at the same time. After all, tailoring is what we rely on. Let it work to compliment your figure.
8. Any plans on having your collections stocked by retailers, or do you see it more as a privately held boutique?
I would eventually like to see the collection sold in stores in London, Milan, New York, Paris, and overseas. And keep part of the business as made to measure.
9. You definitely have a craftsmanship that takes patience to perform and should be respected. But with a high demand where retailers only want profit and uniqueness, what technique would be a specialty of yours to attract those retailers, and show them you’re not just another similar Mary Katrantzou/Pilotto print designer?
I would say that my designs are not just about the print. They’re about tailoring, structure, and the fit of the garment. The print is just an addition and finish to each piece. A garment should enhance ones figure, flatter the female form. And I feel that each piece from the collection has a design which answers this, may that be a structured jacket with a nipped waist, or a pair of high-waist trousers with a hint of a flare at the hem.
10. You seem to have such a positive confidence that is necessary in this industry. What is it that motivates you to keep moving along on a daily basis? Any advice for others who may feel let down from time to time?
You just have to tell yourself never to give up. And if you have to fight, you will keep fighting until you get there. Always keep your head held high and surround yourself with people that force you to do better.
Photos: Courtesy of Daniela D'Amico.