We were lucky enough to grab a chat with one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming fashion designers, Daniel Avakian, about his namesake label ‘Daniel Avakian‘. His latest collection is a treasure trove for luxury-loving minimalists with a focus on clean lines, modern silhouettes, beautiful fabrics and block colours. The range is packed with highly wearable options (think figure hugging leather pencil skirts, blazers and soft tanks) that come together brilliantly in a collection that is not only on-trend, it manages to be quite timeless as well. And that’s a winner in my books.
BWA: Could you give us a little rundown on how DANIEL AVAKIAN was born?
DA: I first started to pursue my brand in 2004. My girlfriend at the time kept saying …‘Danny you should start your own brand one day’….so I did! At the time I was living in Florence, Italy. I was over there on a scholarship, completing my master in fashion design that was awarded to me by the Whitehouse Institute of Design the year before.
After graduating in Italy, I spent the next few years consulting with various known designers in Europe and the United Kingdom. In 2007 I moved back to Sydney and launched my label in the local fashion market at Australian Fashion Week.
While putting the label on hold, I spent the next 5 years in commercial design development and manufacturing for major retailers and private clients. Taking this time out enabled me to work on the development of my career both as a designer and entrepreneur. Staying away from the lime-light opened doors to a variety of industry related ventures giving me a holistic understanding of the industry.
BWA: Describe your brand’s aesthetic in one word
DA: Luxury / Lifestyle
BWA: What is the style mantra behind the brand
DA: Daniel Avakian creates impeccably tailored, ready-to-wear staples to anchor every modern women’s wardrobe. Collections are highly covetable and include a dynamic mix of leather and silk pieces that are chic and versatile – perfect for the transition from office to cocktails. Each item is expertly tailored , and the collection and is crisp and classic. The use of luxuriously soft leathers gives each piece a cool edge – for the women who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to try something new.
BWA: Who is the DANIEL AVAKIAN girl?
DA: She has an eye for modern staples, she buys magazines, she’s on Instagram and various blogs – she knows style when she sees it. She is not always looking for of the moment pieces, she needs pieces she can wear year round – day and night. She wants a one-stop shop.
In the latest S/S ’14/15 collection my aim was to give the Daniel Avakian woman her identity. The name of the collection is ‘Origins’. She is cool, sexy, sophisticated and powerful. Upon completing the collection I worked closely with stylist David Bonney who’s creative direction for the shoot complimented photographer Harold David. The result successfully captures the fingerprint of our woman.
BWA: Who and/or what are your current major inspirations?
DA: At the moment I have had a surge of inspiration from graffiti murals and from 20th century futurist painter Giacomo Balla – I am working towards combining fresh new colours into my coming collections, and experimenting innovatively with new shapes that I aim to include. It really is an exciting time of experimentation for me to design for my label again.
BWA: Describe your design process.
DA: I am continually keeping a watchful eye out on trends relevant to Daniel Avakian. Once a trend catches my eye I reel it in; I begin by conceptualizing how that trend can add value to the label and to our customers. For example if leather leggings are making a surge in women’s wardrobe in Winter 2014 and beyond, then I source the finest stretch lambskin, sketch up designs, toile and create the final designs. In the same breath I cut other styles to build a story around the leggings such as leather pencil skirts and dresses …the purpose being to compliment the legging offer and vice versa. I repeat this process for other styles to create design stories.
BWA: Key piece from the current collection?
DA: Leather Leggings
BWA: Any hints as to what we may see next season?
DA: The aim for Autumn Winter 2015 is to keep the new collection offer tight. I have been toying with the idea to perhaps add a bit of innovation to the aesthetic. I aim to drive the innovation element in coming seasons’. At the moment my focus is extending upon the key items that have been a success so far and building the offer up for our customers.
BWA: Where do you see your label (in a broad sense) going in 2015 and beyond?
DA: In the short term I am excited about the new summer collection and am delighted by the result of the look book. We have several new online partners and several new retail accounts around Australia. My aim is to build the product offer up to at least four collections per year. Though at the moment I am working on it a season at a time. We are also focused on continuing to focus on increasing brand awareness via our social media platforms and on key search engines so we can reach out to new customers and continue to communicate with existing. A fashion show next year is also on the cards.
BWA: What is your ultimate dream for DANIEL AVAKIAN?
DA: To become a dynamic brand that has a variety of product categories that it specializes in.
BWA: Who did you idolize growing up?
BWA: Who do you most admire in fashion today?
BWA: Did you always plan on being a fashion designer; is it true you were once a truck driver? (wow!)
DA: After graduating from high school I went to university to study fine arts, majoring in painting and drawing but I dropped out. I took a year off and YES worked as a tow truck driver. In December 1999 I watched an Italian film about a poor orphan boy who became tailor then a designer, after seeing that film I decided to give fashion a shot…as a career. A week later I was outside the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Sydney (’72 Holden HQ 1 tonner tow truck parked out in front), and asking the lady at reception if I could enroll into a women’s fashion course (ha)
BWA: Who is your favourite fashion photographer?
DA: Richard Avedon / Terry Richardson
BWA: What does it take to be successful in fashion today?
DA: Consistency and Patience.
BWA: How do you feel about the shift toward “fast fashion”?
DA: It’s exciting…. It depends on what side of the ‘fast fashion’ fence you are sitting on of course. Because I am not talking about boring middle market stuff. Let’s face it, if one can’t compete with overseas super retailers, then run for the hills! I am talking about high-end fast fashion – the stuff that bloggers make cult in seconds. It really is a brave new world and as a designer, its exciting time to be part of all that. I have worked closely with high-end boutiques in private label development over the past 5 years. Part of my decision to re-launch the Daniel Avakian brand at the end of 2013 was a result of my direct experience in high-end ‘fast fashion’.
BWA: What is your first fashion memory?
DA: My grandmother cutting a dress…. I would have been about 4-5 years old…..Little did I know I would be cutting clobber myself one day Haha!
BWA: Are there any trends in fashion at the moment that you don’t like?
DA: Sandals. Eww…Who let the nerds in!
BWA: Your style icons?
DA: Saint Laurent and Mugler
BWA: Items on high rotation in your closet right now?
DA: Black Tees and Nikes.
BWA: Ten items you cannot live without?
My tailoring shears
My Nike Air 180’s
My Black tee’s
My Ipad, Macbook and Phone
My Twin Turbo BMW X3
My cat ‘Sweeney Todd’
My pattern blocks
My Breitling Bentley
My sketchpad….of course!
Daniel Avakian is available to shop here