T Lo interviews Daniel Vosovic
Season 2 fan favorite Daniel Vosovic recently unveiled his new line for NYLO hotels. In an interesting twist on the old chambermaid uniforms, the NYLO line is meant not only to be worn by NYLO employees, but it will also be available in in-hotel boutiques for the public. And why wouldn’t they be? These aren’t the old polyester bellhop uniforms of lore. Young and, sporty, with signature Danny V embellishments and detailing, the collection is the very embodiment of “fresh.” Don’t take our word for it. Clickie the pic-ies to get a better look.
We sat down with the skinny little bitch and got him to expound on family, fame, 13-year-old girls, the perils of the fashion industry and of course, his new line. He also managed to imply that we’re old and fat. Despite that, we’re posting the interview anyway.
This week, you were voted by the viewers as the designer from a past season they would most want to return? What do you think that says?
I think it says that a lot of 13 year old girls and gay boys own a lot of cell phones haha! It is what it is, some love you and some hate you. For the moment, for what it’s worth, yeah it feels amazing to be wanted and I’m extremely grateful to the fans that after 2 years now, still have a desire to see more from me. Exposing your designs, and yourself, to the world is such a difficult thing to do, believe me, the self-doubt still creeps in, but it’s time like these where at least I know that someone responds to my work besides my mom.
You won a record-setting five design challenges on the show. That’s amazing. What did you think of your experience on the show? Would you do it all over again?
Thank you, I’m still proud of that. However, please take in to account that I wasn’t competing against “the most talented group of designers yet” (oh hype…I love you so). I loved being on the show (or at least I think I did – f**king Stockholm syndrome) and absolutely love competition. Despite all the drama and gossip that happens after the show airs, I really do think we had a great time when we were in the midst of it all, and if asked, I think I would do it again. Granted, the amount of egos that would be brought back may be overwhelming, but that’s nothing a few Vicodin can’t fix to make it bearable.
So how’s life after Project Runway? We understand you’re working as a freelance designer for NY fashion houses. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a freelancer in the industry?
Honestly, life is pretty damn good right now. Love my family, my man and my friends. I love the projects I’m working on and I love Christmas, but I’m over the bumbling holiday tourists – that’s fo sho. Aside from all the projects I’ve been freelancing for the past few months, continuing to build the necessary foundation for my future company and gaining a bit more experience before jumping in for my own. Freelancing is actually fantastic for me right now as it allows me to get a paycheck, build contacts, but continue to work on my own work without conflicts, and I definitely recommend it to multi-tasking designers. However, some people prefer the structure and security that a fashion label can provide. I was heading design at a company last year but decided that it wasn’t for me after they decided to change directions, and actually may be looking to jump back in with another high-end company as NYLO and my book are wrapping up.
You’ve been quite busy doing a variety of things, including writing blogs for Bravo and OUTzone. We read them regularly, particularly the one about the PR Season 4 challenges. How does it feel to be on the other side critiquing other contestants’ works? Do you find yourself tempering your comments a lot or do you just want to put on your bitch pants and let them have it?
To be honest, it’s definitely been a love/hate relationship with blogging in general. In fact, I hate the word itself, the only way I can describe my dislike is that I consider it a misuse of onomatopoeia. Say it out loud… “Blllooooogggg”… It just becomes so guttural and unattractive don’t you think? Anyways I digress, I actually don’t like critiquing the other designer’s work, but alas, BRAVO contracts… However, I do try to be as objective as possible and try to stay focused on the designs, and not the designers themselves. I think viewers find the process of designing fascinating, and until BRAVO opts to have each designer comment extensively on their own designs, it’s up to the rest of us to decide why they made the choices they did – for the good and the bad. Believe me, there are times when I wish I could be your younger, cuter, skinnier little sister and bitch right alongside you two (See! The claws CAN come out if provoked!). Kidding, you know I love you boys.
Tell us about your book on the design process “Fashion Inside Out: From Inspiration to Runway and Beyond.” When is it going to be available?
Well it’s actually a collection of nudie shots of me wrapped in different fabrics: wools, chiffons, cashmere blends… but all tasteful of course.
Haha! Actually I love it! I describe it as a photography/coffee table/how-to book dissecting the design process from beginning to end. It’s a little Kevyn Aucoin, a little Jamie Oliver and a lot of fashion. Kevyn’s books are glamorous how-to books supplemented with gorgeous photography, while Jamie’s are approachable and more lifestyle, while still being informative. The most amazing photographer has been shadowing me for the past five months, documenting basically the entire process (seeking inspiration, sketching, draping, styling, shooting, etc), including interviews with some of the fashion industries latest and greatest: Tim, Heidi and Nina of course, but also Diane von Furstenberg, Fern Mallis, head designers at Marc Jacobs, and a slew of modeling agents, patternmakers, photographers, recruiters and a whole lot more! It’s going to be 10”x10”, hardcover, pretty damn flossy flossy if you ask me, and will be on shelves (Borders, B&N, etc) fall 2008! Oh, and I JUST heard from my publisher that we may have a simultaneous release in the UK and there’s already been requests from China for it… and I’m still writing it!
People think that any major exposure, such as winning Project Runway, automatically lands you a successful career in the industry. Clearly, there’s more to it than that. How did your time on the show benefit your career, if at all?
As I’ve said a hundred times before, exposure is no substitute for experience and most certainly holds true with reality TV. However, if you parlay it correctly it can definitely become useful when trying to get a foot in the door. My first job after the show I was hired without them looking at my portfolio – they just liked what I had done on the show and how I worked with others (Though I was only there for a year if that’s saying anything), so yeah, I guess most things have been spawned from the show: NYLO saw me on the show, my editor loved my writing voice on my blogs and contacted me out of the blue, and a lot of my charity work has been through exposure on the show. HOWEVER, it did not bag me my man Kieran, that boy still hasn’t finished watching season 2 and never watched it before we met (so please don’t tell him, I told him that I won).
What kind of skills and/or training are helpful when trying to break into the fashion industry?
Tenacity and technique; you can be the greatest, but if no one knows it’s hard to make a name for yourself. On the flip side, if you’re all talk then people can see right through it. Multi-tasking, good people skills, a creative mind and everything else that everyone else says. Though I always tell young designers to not put all their eggs in one basket, and try to be good at a few things. Expand your creativity and learn how to make money at it, fashion can be a tough and grueling industry and can take years to get to a place where you’re sustained. Learning how to be creative in other areas can allow you to branch out; employers will also find your broad view useful and you can find creative ways to collaborate with outside sources other than fashion: film, costume, painting, music, etc.
Now let’s talk about your first retail clothing line, produced through a partnership with NYLO Hotels. What’s the main idea behind this unique collection? When is it going to be available?
NYLO (New York Lofts) approached me last year to design a collection that they could use for all of their frontline staff (waitresses, bar tenders, front desk, hostess). Well, I screamed at the idea of burgundy, boxy, polyester blazers with brass buttons but decided to give it a try. NYLO is a refreshing alternative to all of the hum-drum khaki/navy hotels out there that haven’t changed in the past 30 years, and I’m not talking about metropolises like LA, NY and Miami, but the thousands of other hotels out there that have fallen into a state of atrophy. The collection is more of a retail mentality with the collection consisting of mix-n-match layering pieces for men and women that can work for a range of body types as well as locations (from the cold north-east to the stifling south-west). There are 50 going up by 2010 (with I think 150 as part of the package?) and all of them will use my collection, as well as sell it, along with a men’s and women’s handbag and luggage line, in a boutique located in each hotel as well as on their website (www.nylohotels.com)… All pieces I’ve designed/produced and all pieces that I believe in. Also, there are pieces that will be rotated in and out as new locations open, to keep the collection relevant and fresh.
What type of research did you do to come up with a concept for this collection? Did you consult the employees?
I did actually bombard more than a few waitresses to see what worked/and didn’t work for them! I also worked in a country club for three years during college – from valet to waiter – it all sucked. There’s nothing fun about itchy polyester shirts and faded, pleated black pants, and there is certainly nothing prestigious about it. NYLO aims to be a truly fun, approachable hotel, unlike anything that’s out there, and I wanted the outfits to mimic the laidback, cool casual aesthetic that the NYLO brand is about. I worked extensively with the head architect Stephan Dupoux (he did Buddha Bar here in NYC and many other locations) to make sure the clothing was reflective of the clean lines and modern feel of the interiors: from the color story (gray, white, sand and black) to the geometric shapes (exposed conduit piping gave me ideas for straps and interesting seam lines). I also worked throughout the design process with a well-established uniform company in producing the collection, to assure comfort and durability, and though the idea is more of a retail mentality, they must still function for daily use.
We love the idea of the collection, something that aims to flatter wearers in the hotel as well as in the office and on the street. It’s a unique concept. How did you manage to straddle the world of uniforms and the world of everyday wear?
Again, it was made much less difficult only because I’ve been there done that. I’m aware of the job requirements and duties, but know how important it is to reflect an image of ease and comfort. Though this collection is a departure from what my signature line will be like (c’mon, I’m craving cashmere and silk!) it’s been a great test of my design skills and has been a great way for me to have a few projects long-term projects going at the same time. Oh, and the staff gets a sick clothing allowance so if anyone is looking for a job and is near Dallas, TX, head over to the first Plano location and fill out an application!
Also, because I know you love to rip all things fashion, I wanted to give you bitches a sneak peak at the new look book I shot for the collection. I wanted to capture the staff “behind the scenes” of work and was aiming to bring a bit of a narrative to the collection. Keep in mind that the pieces are all NYLO, but the accessories and extreme styling have been added to give it a more fashion-forward NY edge. I mean, as much as I’d love to see a leggy 5’11” girl serving drinks in 4” $800 Gucci shoes and purple tights, I know that it’s unlikely to happen… my job is to create the fantasy, and then be brought back down to reality by patterns, production and my boss… but hey, it’s still fun to play isn’t it.
Love you guys and thanks for the support, though I’ll be prepared with my Kleenex and some anti-depressants when you post this as a just-in-case.
(Photos: Courtesy of Daniel Vosovic]