Sketches and a completed look from Fall 2012
If you’re a fan of fashion and own a TV, chances are you’re familiar with Daniel Vosovic. A finalist on season two of Project Runway, Daniel—who hails from Michigan and studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology—began filming the show less than a week after graduation, launching himself headfirst into the juggernaut of reality TV fame and the epicenter of New York’s fashion industry, which made him a household name before he’d even created his first collection.
Daniel’s Project Runway stint was followed by the how-to book Fashion Inside Out (in which he interviewed folks in different areas of the business, including Tim Gunn, Diane von Furstenberg, Nina Garcia, Lee Trimble and yours truly) and the launch of an eponymous, and well-received, womenswear collection.
The gracious, gregarious designer, who also created the staff uniforms for NYLO hotels, invited Dossier contributor Lauren David Peden to his new digs in the CFDA Fashion Incubator space for a freewheeling conversation covering everything from fashion and his reality TV experience to his years as a nationally ranked competitive gymnast (who knew?).
Lauren David Peden: So, what’s your first fashion memory?’Cause growing up in Michigan I would suppose there’s not a lot of fashion.
Daniel Vosovic: The first thing that comes to mind—I don’t remember how old I was, maybe six or seven—but my mother has always been an executive assistant/secretary, a great size six, very long and lean…and I remember her wearing what had to have been the JC Penney version of a kimono, which I think she still has down in the basement. It was this beautiful fitted, padded, past-the-knee sheath with a kimono collar, little cap sleeves and an embroidered heron on it that was black, beige and teal, with hints of purple in it. I remember the covered buttons and if I was in her room while she was getting ready for work and I was waiting for school, she would go, “Daniel, can you do these little buttons?” And there were six or seven little covered buttons on the back. That was my memory of it, even though, looking back, it probably wasn’t as chic as I remember (laughs). But she looked very glamorous sitting in her chair in the bedroom.
Lauren: This was the ’80s?
Daniel: Yeah. I was born in ’81.
Lauren: When did you know that you wanted to be a designer? Or did that happen much later?
Left: In the studio with Daniel. Right: Fall 2012
Click “Read More” for additional text and images.
Daniel: I was always into design and art. I sketched my entire life, painted and sculpted. I thought I was going to be an animator, then an architect, then a landscape architect and then, as high school came, a graphic designer—all these elements within the scope of design. I was going to go into architecture; I took my first semester of pre-architecture courses and hated it. I hated how structured it was. I hated how an idea would take years to get off the ground. There were so many filters it had to go through that the original idea would be so different than I had originally envisioned.
I needed something looser and faster, something to facilitate this hunger I feel for fast turnaround. So I took a sewing course kind of on a whim at a community college when I was 18. I went from boxer shorts to cocktail dresses in a matter of weeks because it just clicked for me… I was having a conversation with my father a year ago. My father is a mechanic, very blue collar. He has always been very supportive and very loving, but never really understood this world. Never really understood fashion and what it is and how the process works. I said to him when we were having a beer one night when I was home, “You do know I got my analytical side from you?” And he’s like, “What are you talking about?” And I go, “Dad, you don’t remember that mom and I would come home and she would yell at you because you had 150 parts from the carburetor on the dining room table? And I’d come back 45 minutes later and you’d have everything back together again.” I said, “You have this ability to see something, diagnose the problem or the process, take it apart, put it back together again and it works even better than it did before. It’s the same way that I can look at an idea or a sketch and say: ‘How does this work? Do these elements work for this design?’ And then, ‘How do we do it?’” I think that he was so excited when we made this connection because he never really felt a connection to what I do, and now [he] is sort of like, ‘Ah! Remember that one time?!’ So yeah, it all spawned from this whim when I was 18, led from years and years of the nurturing of art and design in general.
Lauren: And how did you wind up at FIT?
Daniel: I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this to you before, but I was a competitive gymnast for 12 years. National level.
Lauren: Wow. So you’re competitive?
Daniel: Very (laughs). The Aries in me comes out in all aspects of my life. 12 years, six days a week, four hours a day since I was seven—plus competitions. It led to many, many broken bones; many, many surgeries; a lot of metal, here down [gestures to his legs]. Pins, bars, screws…. I can show you many scars.
Lauren: What have you broken?
Daniel: This ankle was broken when I was 15, coming off a high bar. Swinging around, going for the dismount, and I must have just come slightly off all the trajectory because I landed and I rolled on my back, and my ankle was sticking this way [makes an L shape with his fingers]. It was completely 90 degrees going in the direction it wasn’t supposed to be. I remember my coach’s name was Toby, and I just went, “Toby, Toby, Toby!”
Your ankle’s not supposed to be looking like that. At my level, when you do that much to your body, your flexibility is much greater than an average person, the subtle things with your joints are much greater, all those things. It took five days in the hospital, a lot of surgery and a lot of screws and pins, and then six months of very intense physical therapy to just get back to where I was. Then I got back into competitions six months later. In gymnastics we call it a stick, and I had a very difficult time sticking my landings after that because with your [newly limited] range of flexibility you can’t sink into it as much as you could before, so that was very frustrating. I came back from that a year later almost to the day, and two days after Christmas I broke my other ankle. I broke the other one on the floor doing a series of round-off back handsprings, whip backs, which are backflips without using your hands. Whip back, whip back, whip back, so you go to your feet and something, when I landed, had rolled and broke. But I had so much momentum that I actually took off from the ground, and I’m in the air thinking, ‘My ankle is broken, I have to land, and I’m going to have to land on my busted one.’ It was the worst thing in the world. But the great thing is, 12 years of training and you know how to fall. So I landed, I fell into it, and I knew. You heard it crack, it went throughout the gym, and I started punching the floor. I was so angry because I knew that it wasn’t just three months. It was another year of missed nationals, another year of all of that.
Lauren: And how old were you?
Daniel: That was a year later when I was 16. So I did the whole thing again. Five days of surgery at the same hospital, same doctor, same nurse, same room. It was déjà-vu because it was literally almost a year later to the day. It was so weird.
Lauren: Maybe it was the universe telling you that you should do this instead.
Daniel: That’s the thing, almost. You’re sitting there again—and there’s been other broken bones and stuff—but I just felt at 18 that my body was falling apart. I started when I was seven, so 12 years… Long story short, I gave it up. Gave up all the chances of scholarships, and my parents said to me, “The reality is we’ve always supported you, and gymnastics has always been your choice: to sacrifice your friendships, your time after school”—I never went to a football game, never went to any of those things in high school—“and if that’s what you want to do, fine, but if you say goodbye to that life, then we don’t have any money for you for college.” They said, “We’ll help you figure it out,” which is why I had to go to a community college in Michigan first, and I’m so happy that things turned out the way it did because if I had gone to Ohio State or Michigan State at $25,000 dollars a year, I wouldn’t have had the freedom to say that maybe this architecture, graphic design or advertising course isn’t the best route for me. I just took a sewing course on a whim. I’m very grateful, despite the fact that I’ll have arthritis in a few years—the doctor warned me about already. I’m happy for it. I’m happy that it led me here.
Lauren: And why did you decide upon FIT as opposed to other fashion schools?
Daniel: Money and accessibility.
Lauren: FIT is cheaper than Parsons?
Daniel: Yes, it’s a state run school. It’s a SUNY school, so I think room and board is almost a fifth or sixth cheaper. It’s a lot considering that I had to save money working at Banana Republic and going to community college in a very short amount of time. FIT was the foot in the door for me. I did a one-year accelerated program, where I did two years in one year, competitive, silly me. I remember my first semester I was so bad. I stayed up for 72 hours straight for my senior project. No drugs, just water and determination to beat all of the smart Asian kids in my class. So I just stayed up for 72 hours straight and I decided I would never do that again. Until the next semester it was 78 hours, and I was just on the cusp of death and my friend was like, “You do know that you can have seizures if you don’t go to sleep?” I was like, “You’re right. It’s also proven that you just get the job done.” The motto in here, which I always tell my interns, is: When it comes to a job, do it however you want; just don’t fuck it up. And that’s literally across the board, from patterns to cutting to sewing—you’re an expert, you can figure this out, do it however you want, just don’t fuck it up.
Lauren: So you trust people to work in whatever their process is?
Daniel: Absolutely. Whatever their process is, because I think you hit boundaries when you say: Do it my way all the time, do it my way all the time. I don’t think it’s a very community-minded thing. I’m a big believer in teamwork, and no one person is going to make anything.
Lauren: I know we just discussed this, but reiterate for me how you went from FIT to studying in Italy?
Daniel: At FIT, I ended up doing the one-year accelerated program, and then I got into an Italian exchange program and moved to Florence for a year and studied at Polimoda, a phenomenal school there. So the first year program was an associate [degree]. Even though I had been at community college, I wanted to get my associate degree and work my way up in a fashion school in New York. I did the first two years [in Michigan] and then one year at FIT, then started the first year of my bachelor’s [degree] in Italy. Which really, really broke a lot of walls that had been put up by either me or schools or other training.
Lauren: In terms of what?
Daniel: Design. I hate saying this because it’s so general, but it’s just a European sensibility and a different approach to design. For example, one of the first lessons my Italian teacher taught in our draping class was: Here’s a shape of fabric. Whether it’s a circle, square, whatever it is, you cannot cut the fabric, you have to achieve whatever silhouette it is you’re going for without cutting it, and there are no side seams. It was literally the simplest lesson to say, “Wow, I don’t have to do that because it’s the norm.” It’s the simplest way of saying that a pant will always have, for the most part, two legs and a crotch, but the zipper doesn’t have to be here, pockets don’t have to be exactly here. I think it was a nice balance in my training, whereas FIT was commercial and very market driven. My Italian training or my European training was much more artistic. It was a very nice balance for me in terms of shaping my point of view as a designer. I tell my design interns: Don’t just do a version of what’s new for you, be aware of what’s out there and do something new within the industry. Do something new that’s different altogether, because I think that’s what people get so hung up on in school: I haven’t done this before. I haven’t made a leather pant before. Take it further. This is when you’re going to have the most creativity allowed ever. You don’t have a boss. You can literally do anything you want, and you’re worried about a side seam being straight? That’s not what you should be worried about in design school. I thought that was a great lesson. And I fell in love for the first time in Italy, with Filippo. He was my first boyfriend. I knew I was gay and had told my best friends before I left for Italy, but I didn’t tell my family. I was on the plane on my way over, and I was literally like, ‘Daniel, you’re gay. When you land you’re going to be gay.’ It was so weird because I had such a stigma about it from my upbringing, and just the baggage that comes with that, that it was so hard to say the words at first out loud—even to think them and then to say them. I was like: It’s a new country, it’s new people, this is your life, this is who you’re going to be.
Lauren: Presenting yourself as you are before you hit the ground.
Daniel: As a designer, as a person, as an individual—across the board. It was a great growth time for me. I was 21, 22, so it was a great explorative time all together. It was amazing. Amazing. It was such a great experience.
Lauren: And so then you came back…
Daniel: Filippo and I actually ended up moving to London together for a while, and we worked at a very high-end showroom, Ittierre/Gorland, which represented all the main lines and sub-lines of Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo and Versace to all of the UK. That was a great experience, as well. I had my commercial training, I had much more artistic training, and then on the other end I had the buying stuff, which I thought that was very fascinating in that, as a designer, I could design the most crazy thing in the world, but as a young designer you don’t think that there are those filters: Oh, the consumer will see this and maybe they’ll like it. The reality is, if the buyer doesn’t like it, fuck it; no one’s seeing it. Learning that American women don’t love purple and that UK women don’t love yellow—they just aren’t such popular colors—I didn’t know such generalizations existed, but they absolutely do in the buying world. “That doesn’t work for our customer.” To hear those things as a young designer was always very revealing. It was like, ‘Oh, I can’t just design pretty things and people will buy them automatically?’ It was definitely a naïve outlook. Anyway, I lived there for a while, then came to New York and finished my bachelor’s [degree] at FIT and then was on Project Runway four days later. I got a phone call the day I moved from the dorm into my new apartment that said: In three days, come on the show. I literally ripped boxes open—I had packed months’ worth of clothes—and I left for the show.
Lauren: What was the biggest challenge and the biggest reward of doing Project Runway?
Daniel: I think the biggest challenge for me was getting used to being criticized to your face and having to defend your work on a personal level, because most designers don’t have to do that. There are critics, there are writers, there are blogs, there are different opinions, but designers don’t have to be standing next to their garments defending them or praising them. They’re usually an arm’s length away, and you can say that this is my work, now you can judge it and I’m going to step away—and there’s a filter. That was a big learning curve for me and something that has served me even today: how to talk to people, how to talk about your work and why should people care about what you’re doing. I think that it was a very harsh lesson to learn, but a great one.
Lauren: And rewards? Was there something that stands out?
Daniel: I think the biggest reward—and the gift that keeps on giving—was the gift of exposure. It’s like: Here I am, I’m 31 years old, my company is just over two-and-a-half-years old and I have fans in Moscow, Indonesia, Uzbekistan… People still continually write me, email me, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, all those little things. That moment on Project Runway seven years ago was a month of my life, plus the runway show and all that stuff. But it just was great that people not only got the chance to follow and get to know my clothes and my design aesthetic, but also me as a person. I think that nowadays that’s very, very important because consumers are very smart. They’re so hungry for the process. Not just clothes, but they like the package, and Project Runway was the first step in that. It put the designer on par with what they do, that they’re both accountable for each other. So I think it was the gift that keeps on giving.
Lauren: You launched your own line in 2010, funded with your Project Runway All-Star wings…
Daniel: Spring 2010. And the first runway show was in February.
Lauren: And you actually wrote a book about being a fashion designer before you had designed your first collection.
Daniel: Right. The book was important to me. It was important that I include a lot of interviews and guidance from industry experts who have their own approach to how they do things. That was my biggest goal in writing the book. [After Project Runway], I had thousands of emails from people saying that they were interested in getting into design and fashion, all of these things—How do I do it? What other aspects are there? I said to myself: I’m a recent graduate. Is there a tool out there? There were movies and shows like The Devil Wears Prada and Project Runway. There was a thirst for fashion, and to lift the veil and say: How does this industry actually work? I could wait until I’m 35 and do an expert overview on how it has worked for me and my trials and tribulations, but I thought to myself: This industry moves way too fast; what worked ten years ago isn’t even relevant to me anymore. The process has changed so much that who knows what’s going to happen in 10, 15, 20 years for me? I thought it was a great opportunity for me to share what I know right now. This is my process and this is how I do things with companies I work with and other jobs I’ve had. However, these are also the people who I look up to. It sort of shaped the whole process. It was really important that I didn’t [title it] Daniel Vosovic: Fashion Inside Out. That it was Fashion Inside Out, a look into the industry from a younger perspective. I thought that was the ultimate goal, to share different narratives about a different person’s process.
Lauren: Tell me about launching your collection. What is the aesthetic and how has it evolved since you first became a designer? What’s the definitive aesthetic?
Daniel: The definitive aesthetic is that we aim to dress the cool tomboy. We need to give her something for dating, great work outfits; we focus on the great specialty dresses. We cut a sick pant, great jackets. Overall, I try to keep the descriptions deceptively simple; the clothes have to be approachable, they have to be wearable. I design clothes for women I know. I don’t have an imaginary woman in my head. They’re urban dwelling, they’re young, they’re hip, they have a great energetic passion for intelligence, for creativity. I think those are really buzzy words, but overall I just design for my friends, to put it very simply. Everything from the subtle things—for example, the fabrics have to be stretchy, and what does she wear in the subway, and can she wear this tonight? I think it’s important to have those elements for the press and things to get me excited, but overall I design clothes that I want to see worn every day by women who I see on the street. That point of view has definitely been sharpened, I would say. Not necessarily shifted, but sharpened over time. Maybe it’s me growing up more. I’m not sure why, but it’s definitely become more razor focused with her needs—with really understanding a women’s needs, and not just designing for a fantasy woman.
Lauren: And now I know that you’ve done runway shows for the first few seasons, but now you’ve stopped. Why did you decide to stop and show through private appointments and trunk shows?
Daniel: It was after Fall 2011. We did 37 looks in a really great presentation. It was maybe three weeks afterwards and I remember sitting down at our dining room table and I had called up my friend George, he’s high up at Apple. Me, him, I think Kieran [Mulcare, Daniel's boyfriend] was there, a PR friend and maybe two other friends. I literally said, “You guys, I’m not feeling fulfilled; this is not working for me. Why did I just spend $80,000 on the show, plus samples—hundreds of thousands of dollars? Why don’t I feel fulfilled? This is not why I went into design…” This really opened up a dialogue with a group of people who I really trust with some ideas of what happens in fashion, but ultimately it became this ongoing dialogue of a greater way to get to where I’m going. So, a two-year plan, a five-year plan sort of got flushed out. I just kept saying to myself that I don’t want to follow this formula just because everyone’s doing it and everyone thinks I should be doing it.
Lauren: It was like rethinking that seam in the pants in fashion school.
Daniel: Literally it was like that moment years ago when someone was like, “Daniel, you don’t have to just because.” It was that moment, and it was awesome. What happened in the meantime, for the past two seasons, is that I realized—after a lot of diagnoses and flushing stuff out with people like Lisa Smilor [Deputy Director of the CFDA], who’s been an unofficial mentor for a year or two now—the goal was to turn the volume down and build relationships the organic way, to get people to care about me, to care about the work, and not care about the explosions. [Giorgio] Armani had this amazing quote—we just moved studios and I have to put it back up—but it’s a beautiful quote that says, “Everyone wants explosions. Everyone wants fireworks every moment in everything. Every launch of a product needs to be fireworks. The problem with fireworks is that afterwards you’re left with ashes.” I thought that it was such a profound way to look at things, because just look at the industry as a whole: It’s so fucking fast. I’m just starting and I’m tired! Why are we doing this? Who’s going to put their foot down? I think that’s been a big lesson for me: Don’t just fall into this trap because other people are doing it, which does not mean that it’s what you have to do. So I turned the volume down. I started to have much more intimate conversations with editors and buyers, and everything slowly but surely started to elevate. It was so great because I was finally able to focus on the things that really mattered and the things that really affected growing a business. Do you even know how many shows were on the schedule in New York?
Lauren: Two hundred and change last season.
Daniel: Two and change in New York, and then you have three more weeks after that. Then you have literally a little bit of downtime, like three days, for recovery. And then you start scheduling go-sees. What happened after that Fall 2011 show was that I had the same editors come into the showroom for re-sees. They would say, “Oh, these clothes look a lot different than what I saw! All these amazing things that I didn’t notice!” And I said, “Why the hell did I do all that shit if this is the impact—if this is the moment that’s actually affecting them.?” Going back to what my designs are… They’re deceptively simple. Maybe that traditional format doesn’t work with what I do. That was ultimately what was behind the big decision.
Lauren: Deceptively simple. What do you mean by that?
Daniel: I try to make clothes as interesting for the wearer as the viewer. But I don’t make clothes that slap you upside the face. I don’t do huge ball gowns, I don’t do FASHION, because, again, my job is to design clothes for people to wear every day. So whether it’s elevated with styling or with detailing, I want the clothes themselves to be interesting for the wearer. Maybe you don’t see it until you buy it. Maybe there’s a great lining, or seaming, or great pockets. Little details like the piercings on the collars that you wouldn’t know was a septum piercing or that it’s barbells. You just don’t necessarily notice those things in a traditional format.
Lauren: So has this new approach been successful?
Daniel: Yes. But the great thing is, like many things, this is not the end goal. It was a reshaping of a business plan to say: Let’s change the process. What’s the first step, second, third, fourth, fifth? Now that this Incubator situation has happened, it goes a lot faster, and everything gets elevated. The whole thing is happening much faster than what we had planned a while ago. We’re still figuring it out with the help of my CFDA Incubator mentors. They’re so great.
Lauren: Who are they?
Daniel: Aslaug [Magnusdottir], co-founder of Moda Operandi, is a phenomenal woman; Jayne Harkness; Gary Wassner, who’s the head principle of Hilldun, a big factoring agency that works with everyone in this industry; and Robert Bergman, who is the head of Bergman Associates, they do advertising and marketing. They are a great powerhouse team that, as of three or four weeks ago, has come into the arsenal. So now we’re discussing, reshaping, confirming what’s going to be the most potent message now, and what’s going to be a great follow up and where to put the energy. You change Incubator mentors and focus every six months.
Lauren: That’s fantastic.
Daniel: It’s phenomenal. Because my focus may be different than the designers across the hall. Maybe they want to open up their own store, maybe I want to launch e-commerce. Maybe I want to get into licensing. I’m focusing on sales and distribution branding for this term, so my mentors are people who are really good at that. And then next season it could be something else, and different the next season after that. Now all the stuff that I had planned with my own team is being brought into this other group.
Lauren: And the Incubator program lasts for two years?
Lauren: So now, tell me about your inspiration for Fall 2012.
Daniel: The inspiration started with a trip home to Michigan. I was cleaning up the attic for my mother and found all these random old photos of my sister and me. They were so ’90s, and I just loved it. I loved my sister in her hideous jean jackets and these oversized t-shirts and these great old varsity jackets. That’s what kick-started everything and then development became, over time, this amalgamation of school uniforms, teenage angst, love lost, the Pink Ladies, Japanese and British school uniforms—how they can all fit within this mold, but I tweaked it and styled it so that each is individual. That’s Fall 2012. My woman’s always strong. She may be torn down over time but she can stand up on her own two feet. I loved the idea of this girl of the season being this woman who’s maybe in her bed and wearing her boyfriend’s favorite sweatshirt. Maybe we don’t know the whole story but she’s pining for him and won’t ever let him know it, but she’s there, the hems are stretched out, everything’s a little off. She’s wearing his jacket but it’s a little more feminine with great cashmeres and a little more detail. And school uniforms are laid over long shirttail hems. The rain print—we call it the Windshield Print—was actually inspired by back when I was straight in high school. I remember making out with my girlfriend at the time in my Chevy Blazer with plaid blankets in the back, and this whole memory came back me to. So we rented a car, waited for the perfect rainy day and shot out the windshield on the east side of Manhattan by those parks by the bridge. We brought the photo back, cleaned it up, put in some color, and this was the Rain/Windshield print [Daniel points to a water-print top]. Doing that for winter was a very tricky decision because it can read spring/summer. I loved the idea. We do a lot of seasonless dressing. I love the idea of someone being fresh and minty in the middle of winter. I thought it played so beautifully against the blacks and greys and more sterile uniform colors. That also came from elements of the ’50s and the Pink Ladies.
Lauren: Why do you like the Pink Ladies so much?
Daniel: Because they’re so badass! It’s like my Rizzo moment. She was such a bitch. She knew she was pregnant. I loved that there was all this anger, but that at the end of the day she was still a great woman and she was still feminine in her own strong way. You didn’t have to be in a poodle skirt; it didn’t have to slap you in the face. It’s very clean, it’s very chic, it’s a great tailored pant. It’s my tomboy.
Lauren: How did the colors come about?
Daniel: The black and navy and ivory came from school uniforms. The mint and the celadon came from a car in the ’50s—great cruising colors.
Lauren: And what about Spring 2013?
Daniel: The core of it is Egon Schiele, which I’m so excited to explore. For years I’ve wanted to explore his work and figure out how to do that with what we do. There have been some great seeds that have been planted. Everything is just so slim and slouchy and lived in. I feel like to go through the filter of what we do—which is very modern and clean—it’s going to be an interesting clash. Our focus is always dresses. We do great dresses, especially for spring/summer. We’re playing a lot with translucency and interesting prints that come from nature and have a sort of organic feel, but are presented in a clean and very modern way. I don’t know if that’s too abstract, but it’s still coming together.
Lauren: Why this artist? What is it about his work that speaks to you?
Daniel: I’ve always been a fan. Throughout the years and years of art history and art that I’ve had, he’s always spoken to me for the bare bones, raw sexuality that I love. It’s so gestural, his work. In my work I like to think of [mixing] nature and technology. Taking something like rain, for example, or wood—things that you wouldn’t normally find in an urban setting—and funneling them through a clean, modern, tech-y lens. There’s a reason why we present it on very sleek-looking stretch silk. I like that clash, and I like thinking of things like a beautiful, crazy bonsai tree that’s growing over a beautiful, uniform cube—if that’s a visual for you, because it works for me. And I like having stuff crusty and confined. That element is always something I come back to. So with Schiele’s work, it’s those jagged, gestural figures. I love that in his work these fleshy bodies have jagged elbows, jagged moments…and his painting techniques are so strong and so bold that I think it gives it a strength that separates it from its origin. Taking a beautiful fleshy woman and giving her these angles, giving her this jagged harshness was a nice clash. I find inspiration in that.
Lauren: So it’s the juxtaposition of the unexpected.
Lauren: And I know your first collection was self-financed but you have investors now?
Daniel: The first collection was self-funded from the All Stars win. I had done the All Stars show right before and had gotten $100,000 for that, which went toward my first show. But since then investors have come on board and have seen this long term, believed in me, loved the product, loved where this can go, and that’s how we got the space [in the Village] that we had originally. I understand the importance of positioning, though, because with the other designers here—there’s a handful of men’s designers, jewelry designers, lingerie and handbag designers—there’s so much crossover so a stylist who is going to come in and pull jewelry, there’s a great chance that she might stop by. And if there’s a buyer across the hall who makes an appointment with another womenswear designer, they might say,’You know what, I’m right here… They don’t harpoon each other,’ or ‘I can mention this to my creative director.’ And that, I think, is the importance of positioning. That was the first and most important lesson: Always be ready because you don’t know who’s going to stop by. That’s the good and bad thing about the Incubator; literally anyone can walk through that door, so always be ready.
Lauren: And how do you relax in your downtime?
Daniel: We still have Wednesday movie night [with a group of seven friends]. Girls has been the new show that we love to love and hate. It is very much our lives with the group of us. I love Lena [Dunham]. She’s phenomenal, and I think all the girls are very talented. I just love girl power. They couldn’t be further away from fashionistas, but I love that because at the core of it they’re making it work in New York City, and it’s so painful to watch. It’s so painful and I love it. Hopefully one day I can give a dress to them or something. It’d be fun.
Lauren: Any trips coming up?
Daniel: Kieran’s desperate for a vacation, just like I am.
Lauren: How long have you guys been together now?
Daniel: Six years in June, which goes very, very fast. We have some options. We have a lot of friends who have a lot of places, but I don’t know, I think it’s because of this whole Incubator thing that I’m so desperate to get things set and to really make myself feel comfortable in a new space and feel like I can step away from it like I could before.
Lauren: So you’re basically boots on the ground till Fashion Week.
Daniel: Boots on the ground, which is where I feel like I need to be. It’s all about coffee breaks and massages.