VFS: Hello Manuela how are you?
M.D: Good thank you
VFS: Are you enjoying Paris?
M.D: I always love being in Paris during PFW as you get to see a different side of the city, plus the weather is amazing.
VFS: What you expect from Paris?
M.D: Hopefully get new stockists, particularly international stockists and interesting press, so I hope this happens here.
VFS: Tell us a bit of the concept behind you SS12 collection?
M.D: My origins are part of the inspiration. I grew up in the Caribbean, in Cayman Islands. You can see that in the colour selection, the embroidery, like the lobster or the squid, and the faux stingray printed leather. All these textures, colours and techniques are inspired by my background, as well as the 19th century drawings of Ernst Haeckell, a German zoologist, who illustrated his discoveries. Actually for this season, S/S’12, there have been a lot of designers who have referenced sea life and aquatic inspiration, so it’s great that a collection that is so personal to me seems to really fit the current mood.
VFS: So, is it pure coincidence or are you following trends?
M.D: It is purely accidental, I started gathering information and visuals and researching when I found a book of Haeckell’s drawings in an amazing shop in New York. I had been thinking for a while about doing a spring summer collection inspired by where I grew up and I knew I was going to exhibit with VFS, so it seemed to be the perfect time to do it. My work is largely autobiographical so I don’t really consider trends, but it is nice when things coincide.
VFS: Are you getting inspired by others designers at the showroom?
M.D: Yes definitely. It is really interesting to see so many different designers in one space. For example my collection it is conceptual but in a sophisticated minimal form. The pieces are very wearable while still retaining all those elements of creativity and technique. Then you also have amazing designers like Leutton Postle, who are next to me in the exhibition, who are coming from a totally different angle using completely different materials to me and in a very different way. I work mainly with silk and leather, so seeing all the knitwear and the amazing things that this seasons designer are doing with it has been really intesting.
It has been great to meet designers who specialize in different techniques. For example, I didn’t study embroidery and this season has been the first time I have used it in a collection, but from working with embroidery this season it has already given me so many ideas for new collections, and how I can take that further, so it has been really interesting to talk to designers like Natalie Rae who specialize in embroidery.
VFS: At what shops are you aiming to sell?
M.D: I am currently stocked at The Shop At Bluebird for Autumn/ Winter. I personally love the store, and we are already talking about future seasons. I also try to get in contact with shops I personally like and like to shop at. Selling at Liberty would be great, and Open Ceremony which I know quite well as it is really close to Alexander Wang’s studio in New York, where I used to work.
VFS: What have been the highlights of the season?
M.D: In terms of press Bethan, from Grazia Magazine, wrote a review on me and my collection, for the Fashion Editor at Large blog. I was really flattered that she liked the collection so much and it was great that my passion and enthusiasm came across and that was something she picked up on.
It has been great to get an immediate reaction from everyone. So far the reaction has been great, especially to the leather, which is quite an unusual texture and I think that if people ask to touch and try on your clothes that is the best compliment you can get.
But a big highlight of the season has been meeting personally, Susie Lau from Style Bubble. She has written about me a few times and has been a big supporter of my label from the start but we had actually never met. So it was great to meet her and show here the new collection.
VFS: What is your favorite thing to do in Paris?
M.D: Sit in a bistro, having an espresso and a plate of great food, while watching all chic men and woman passing by.