15 Feb NYFW Designer Feature – Duckie Brown
One of our New York Fashion Week Day One highlights was surely attending the Duckie Brown show. We had the pleasure of meeting the creative designers behind the brand, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, and sitting down for a quick interview with both of them. And when I say interview, I mean ask one question and let Steven and Daniel take it from there. Talk about making the interviewer’s job easier!
“It’s a soft winter,” grins Daniel when asked about the inspiration behind their Fall/Winter 2015-2016 collection. What does that mean? “Well,” he laughs, “you’re just going to have to wait and see!” “We are living in a difficult time,” continues Steven, “we are a small company with not a lot of money, creating very expensive beautiful clothing and are competing against these huge companies with enormous budgets, who are also suffering. I think the collection is based on the vulnerability of where we are, how we are, and how small we are. I also think there’s something we’ve done in the past, like a rhythm coming from other collections we’ve done that emerges as a handwriting, and also the question, can a designer age in this time of youth-obsessed culture, of Instagram, of everyone competing against each other, and essentially it becoming high school after you’ve left high school. We are now forever in high school.”
“Many times in the past when I’ve felt vulnerable designing a collection, I’ve done the opposite of what I’ve done this year. I’ve gone very tough and I’ve put boots, scarves, hats, balaclavas, and zipped it all up and protected myself, but this season I have completely exposed ourselves. It’s much softer. We’ve opened up everything, and we want you to see everything.” Daniel picks up: “That’s the reason why the wall between backstage and audience is open. We want you to see everything what’s happening. There’s no artifice here. We’re challenged, we’re hopeful. That’s why the show is called ‘Tomorrow’ because I think in the idea of tomorrow is hope of a better day. That’s why we wanted to be as vulnerable as possible, and as transparent as possible. I think that’s reflected in the collection.”
“I also wanted every look in the the collection, which consists of 22 looks, to look the same.” Steven smiles. “Which it doesn’t, but there’s a very tight flavor running through the collection, and we’ve used the least amount of fabrics we’ve ever used. I think we’ve used about 10 fabrics throughout the whole collection, which draws it together and makes it much more cohesive. It was essentially based on one look from the previous show, which I had really liked, but it’s shifted away from that and has moved somewhere else. In the end, I believe every collection I design goes back to my old school uniform from England; I think everything I’ve ever done does that.”
The question of how can a designer age is an important one. Of course, one can use fashion as a spring of Eternal Youth, but how long before one becomes a caricature of one’s self? “Can a designer age?” asks Steven. “What we did 10 years ago is not what we do now, but it’s what people expect us to still be doing.”
“People love to put you in a box,” interjects Daniel.
“They want us to keep giving them a clown, but I don’t want to be a clown any more. I’m not a clown. I’m not 36 anymore, I’m 47, and I was a different person then. It’s ok to change. I’d love for Rick Owens to suddenly do a pink collection. He probably wouldn’t, but it’s like, can we move? Can we breathe? Can we change? Can we sustain? Can we compete? Can we instagram more than anyone else? Can we get a billion viewers and beat kid Kardashian? No, of course not.”
“Can we just be left to do our work, so we can spend less time doing it, and more time at the beach?” asks Daniel. “Is that a lot to ask?”
“We’ve also been talking a lot about not being in a cold climate next season because it’s so fucking cold in New York, so I think, in a shallow way, this collection asks the question of what would you wear if you were on the beach in winter, because there’s so much skin being shown. There are guys with wrap tops that hardly cover them.”
“We’re liberating the nipple, giving it some freedom,” quips Daniel. “Free the nipple, the opposite of what Rick Owens did! He freed the ballsack, which I didn’t think was so interesting.”
Back to the comment about aging, I asked Steven to elaborate a little more on his earlier statement. “It’s a young person’s game. Fashion designers can be a little older, I think.” says Steven. Daniel is quick to expand “But impressing buyers and editors, that’s a young person’s game. And the older you get, the tinker the pyramid becomes.” “Our friends were telling us that they weren’t going to the European shows anymore because it’s just a sea of young people, because they can keep up with going to thousands of shows. The big editors don’t come unless you’re an advertiser. It’s just a bunch of 20 year olds. Do you know there’s one day in New York Fashion Week where there are 67 shows on one day?”
“So you could go to 67 shows today if you wanted to.”
“Well, a lot of them are happening at the same moment.”
So what tips do Steven and Daniel have for keeping up with the hectic Fashion Week pace?
“Always pee before you leave for the next show!”
Thanks Daniel, we’ll keep that in mind!