by Juleana Enright
This week’s inaugural Voltage: Fashion Amplified spotlight is locally-bred, Danielle Everine; an artist and sculpturist with a drive for fashion. You may recall this textural genius at the Electro Couture Culture show where she showcased a collection of unconventional pieces including a cashmere kimono, vinyl armor and ruffled knickers. At last fall’s Couture Noir, she delighted us once again with a collection of wooden chest plates, boleros made from sheet metal and leather, hand-printed horse tunics and feather tanks. Steadfast to her concepts of unconventional beauty, gender and power, Everine’s latest line, borrows textiles and silhouettes from 19th century menswear. Using a sculpture background as her creative springboard, Everine’s design aesthetic subtly weaves the binaries of gender within fashion into garment construction, and explores concepts of androgyny and superficial beauty. To us, she is a designer who truly adheres to “art as fashion.” We wouldn’t be surprised if her runway show for Voltage was a full-on masculine vs. feminine battle, swords and all.
We recently chatted with Danielle about her work, her inspirations and Voltage 2010....
l'étoile: Your garments this season are delicate, feminine versions of 19th century menswear. Where did this Victorian dandy inspiration draw from and how has this collection evolved from the avant-garde garments you showed at Couture Noir last fall?
Danielle: This current collection, rather than so forcefully expose degradation of women as the garments for Couture Noir did, attempts to reclaim men’s fashions as a form of gender emancipation. The dichotomies of strength and vulnerability, masculinity and femininity, as well as chiffon and leather continue, but in a fresh way. I choose to create ready-to-wear garments for Voltage in an attempt to influence real women’s wardrobes towards an empowered look, while remaining feminine and creating something of our own.
l'étoile: Your collection reminds us of Tipping the Velvet, a British novel and a BBC miniseries about a vaudeville actress who dresses as a male to perform on stage. The main character, Nan, juxtaposes feminine form with masculine lines in the form of street savvy menswear and smart pantsuits and feels empowered by her androgyny. Was this concept of feminism on your mind while designing your pieces?
Danielle: Absolutely. Following my fall collection, I realized that the adoption of menswear pieces into women’s wear offers better societal protection and respect that any piece of armor can. Clothing plays such an important role in our status in society; we must make efforts to subvert sexist fashion expectations. The refusal to adopt oppressive beauty looks and practices empowers women and our cause.
l'étoile: You have a background in sculpture. Do you have a similar thought process when designing a dress as you do sculpting an art piece?
Danielle: At the turn of the century, tailoring was dubbed the “gentle” art. Sewing is a subtle art form, using ephemeral fabrics to encase a form. Tailoring gently alters an existing physique. Sculpture is about rigidly creating a solid structure; it is the form. Much of same thought processes and skills apply to both, as the end product is 3-dimentional.
l'étoile: Describe the kind of film you could see your Voltage collection featured in. What kind of motif do you think it would embody?
Danielle: Tough question. I imagine a large all-female cast in with lots of extras in a futuristic noir film. Let’s say Blade Runner meets Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
l'étoile: What Twin Cities spots do you draw inspiration from and how do they inspire you? (These could include nature spots, architectural buildings, businesses, etc...)
Danielle: The cycling culture and fancifulness of Minneapolis inspired this current collection. The functionality of beautiful garments, as what is required for proper bicycling, interests me to no end. Dear friends of mine host a very charming tweed ride seasonally when the weather calls for nothing else. Wool suits, tweed capes and leather satchels appear in the most grandiose fashion. The wardrobe is quite enjoyable as well as influential.
For more info on Danielle Everine click HERE
Voltage: Fashion Amplified happens on Friday, April 17th. For more info and to purchase tickets visit www.voltagefashionamplified.com