Danielle Romeril is just six weeks away from showing her Spring-Summer 2016 collection at London Fashion Week and her excitement is obvious.
“We’re very, very busy but this is the most enjoyable time: seeing the 3D version of what you have in your head come to fruition. I’m completely focused on what I do, I can tweak and alter things right up until the first model steps out.
"Fashion isn’t about what’s beautiful, it’s about what’s beautiful now, and so what can look really amazing to me in June might seem boring by September.”
Those who check out her presentation next month can definitely expect a vivid colour palette inspired by the work of Dutch artist Viviane Sassen.
“There’ll be lots of spring greens, pale pinks, and monochromatic colours through the collection, as well as a crazy palm-tree print.”
The designs sprung from her interest in a photo series by Boston-born Jackie Nickerson (noted recently for shooting the risqué lookbook for Kanye West’s Adidas collection) that included images of African farm workers.
“They wore Western clothes but knotted and tied them in a manner reminiscent of traditional tribal dress.”
Clodagh Shorten’s Samui stocks Danielle Romeril exclusively in Ireland and the designer is very proud to have her clothes sold alongside brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Rick Owens at the Drawbridge Street boutique.
“As a designer, I find it very beneficial to wear my own pieces to check how comfortable and easy to wear they are. I wear that dress all the time, to events or to dinner.”
Much of the collection has an interesting patchwork quality.
“I was inspired by the idea of a dystopian future where perhaps you can’t but things anymore, so you have to make clothes from whatever you can. There’s lots of fabric juxtapositions, tartan contrasts with leather and black flocked-lace, padded nylons create really sophisticated dresses.”
A stand-out feature of Romeril’s work is the “odoshi” laced-seam detailing through leather. It can be seen along the sleeves of the exquisite ‘Ella’ sweater, €355, and at the hem of the ‘Alicia’ skirt, €696, both at Samui, among other designs.
“I taught myself this Japanese lacing technique from a library book, it’s how they weave together Samurai armour. They take [rigid leather] scales and thread them together so that something stiff can move and flex with the body.”
The now Hackney-based designer traces her fascination with fashion back to her teenage years in Dublin, when her naturally stylish mother would wear directional designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Jil Sander.
“She wouldn’t have known the names well but she recognised a beautiful, interesting garment.”
She now wears her daughter’s designs. Romeril (whose name is Jersey French) developed a sense of how powerful clothes can be early on. Aged fifteen and aware a cute denim jacket was unlikely to fool door staff, she made a smart winter coat from scratch in order to get into pubs and clubs. It always worked.
After studying design in Limerick and at the Royal College of Art, she honed her skills at elegant labels like Alberta Ferretti, Amanda Wakely, and Sharon Wauchob.
“Working at Alberta Ferretti really feminised and softened my design hand, which I think is a good thing.” She still felt the need to strike out on her own.
“I knew that I loved fashion and the industry but I didn’t love following someone else’s aesthetic. If you don’t love the aesthetic of the house you’re at it just feels like a job.
"It’s someone else’s vision and if it’s not one you sympathise with, it’s actually a very difficult job to do. You don’t do something like fashion design for the sake of a job, if I just wanted money I’d have gone into IT!”
Her own aesthetic is highly covetable. The Danielle Romeril woman is someone who knows her own mind. “She’s interested in beautiful, crafted things, particularly if they’re unique and slightly off-kilter.”
Recognition from the industry has been strong and consistent. The British Fashion Council offered her a Somerset House showroom for her first collection in September 2012.
Perhaps most auspiciously, the label received the Topshop-sponsored NEWGEN award for the Autumn-Winter 2014 and Spring-Summer 2015 seasons. The programme, which offers funding and industry support, nurtured the fledgling careers of a galaxy of design stars, including JW Anderson and Christopher Kane. “It’s amazing to get the approval and have that light shined on you.”
She cites the appearance of her name on the London Fashion Week schedule as her career highlight so far. Beyond Samui, her clothes are stocked in 10 countries and at some of the world’s most discerning designer retailers, including London’s Dover Street Market and I.T in Hong Kong.
Lest you find her beautiful statement pieces a bit daunting, please be assured that they are entirely wearable. Danielle Romeril clothes really are the kind you can throw on with flats and go comfortably about your day in (breaking for compliments).
“Looking good should not come at the expense of how you feel wearing something. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman or a man appear uncomfortable in fashion. It’s never chic or stylish to have your clothes wear you.”
The individuality of Romeril’s designs is rooted in the fabrics that she creates through experimentation in-house. Vogue.com credits them with giving her work “an earthly, raw and real quality.”
With editorial credits in influential glossies like Vogue and Tank, we’re likely to see starlets treading the red carpet in her clothes soon. She’s not particularly bothered.
“I don’t really go for muses and celebrities. I really get the most pleasure from seeing someone normal wearing my piece. I think people forget that most famous people don’t pay and get paid to wear designer clothes. The woman in the street pays me a far bigger compliment by wearing mine.”