IRISHWOMAN Danielle Romeril has been named by the British Fashion Council as one of its NEWGEN designers, or one of the emerging seven best in London.
By being selected for NEWGEN, Romeril is following in the footsteps of Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Erdem.
This is a major profile boost, and she’s also in line for sponsorship at London Fashion Week (LFW) later this month, and industry mentoring for the next year from the BFC and Topshop, who sponsor the award.
Hands off, it’s the ultimate international launch-pad for exciting young talent in the UK.
The Dublin-born designer has been on the radar of international fashion watchers ever since her masters graduate show at London’s Royal College of Art and Design (RCA), where she was head-hunted to work with Alberta Ferretti, in Paris.
Her own label was launched in September 2012, to giddy response at London Fashion Week (LFW), and is now selling in the UK, US, Spain, Japan, China, Taiwan, Kuwait and the UAE, amongst others.
Weekend caught up with Danielle when she was at Samui last weekend, and it’s been some time since we saw fashion so covetable that you just wanted to instantly shed your clothes and walk into the dream that is these dresses and separates.
It’s a bewitching collection, a crazy, creative mix of the ethereal, street and flawless tailoring.
Inspired by bubble wrap and the Cubist artists, Mainie Jellet and Albert Gleizes, the voluminous style of the black bubble sweater, and some of the tunics, strikes you first.
Sometimes, volume can be scary, for both the petite and larger-sized, but the expert sculpturing of the fabric means (since she finished her undergraduate degree at Limerick College of Art and Design, the 30-year-old has worked for Sharon Wauchob, in Paris, and Sinha-Stanic and Amanda Wakely, in London) that the fabric falls in such a way that it neither smothers nor inflates you.
Romeril’s work, while clearly conceptual and directional, is infinitely wearable.
This isn’t design that will wear you, but, rather, you will bop around in the design, loving the languid fall and detailing.
“It’s all about how you wear it. I want people to have fun with it. I hate pretentious fashion,” says Danielle. She describes her work as “relaxed”, easily worn without embellishment — show it off with flats and bare legs by day, or dress up with a pair of vintage heels and bag by night.
“The way that Mainie Jellet and Albert Gleizes look at the canvas, that’s how I wanted to look at the garments. I wanted to take apart a concept and reframe it and you can see that, for instance, in the patches I use. They’re patches, but they’re the opposite to a patch,” she says.
Her designs are one-off fabrics transformed into fashion that is “items of clothing re-imagined”.
Romeril’s passions are textiles and pattern-cutting. But her work begins and ends with the fabric. This season, she takes inspiration from the prosaic: bubble wrap, sticky tape and outdoor wear. The mountains of bubble wrap that were building up in her studio got her thinking and, soon, she was onto her Italian fabric mills, to see if they could create a medium that would incorporate both the translucence and modernity of the eponymous plastic. She adores working with the mills, she says.
The result is unique: the offsetting of panels of bubbled fabric and lace, which are then heat-sealed together with a zigzag of piercing, blue plastic tape. This particular performance tape is normally used with Goretex, but in Romeril’s hands it makes clothing that marries classic and urban, wearable and esoteric.
“I really love to surprise with my design and I love that I have the freedom to do that with my collections,” she says.
With the global economic crisis, it hasn’t been the easiest few years to build a fashion career and this is evident in how the East and Middle East have become such big markets for the new fashion kids on the block. “China has been fantastic. They really are embracing young design,” Romeril says.
Romeril is also generous in her praise of our own Clodagh Shorten, who, she says, has always been an astute and brave buyer.
Clodagh, for her part, can’t wait to see Romeril being worn more in Ireland.
“I see her collection appealing to everyone from a young girl around town to a yummy-mummy who needs a functional wardrobe, but definitely doesn’t want to compromise her sense of fashion, so slings on the long bomber zig-zag coat to do the school run. Also, this collection has great appeal for the dreaded summer wedding, ” she says.
“Trust me, it will be not so dreaded when you wear the bubble-wrap dress with Danielle’s black visor with blue tape.”