This summer, Neutrogena are launching a Limited edition range of their Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit face wash, and in a marvellous move for Irish designer Danielle Romeril, she was tasked with designing the eye-catching bottle. As an up and coming designer with a vibrant and youthful womenswear label already under her belt, this collaboration made perfect sense for Neutrogena. Danielle focuses on natural beauty when it comes to her models’ make-up, an ethos that marries perfectly with that of Neutrogena.
We had the distinct pleasure of catching up with the lovely Danielle, who tells us about working on the Neutrogena design, how she found herself following this career path and what to expect from her next collection. Her autumn/winter collection will be landing in stores this week and you can find her designs in Samui in Cork right now. They are also available online on matchesfashion.com. Danielle is set to show her spring/summer collection for 2016 at the London Fashion Week in September. Watch this space.
Who inspired you to become a fashion designer?
My mum was a pretty big influence – nobody in my family does anything creative, so she really pushed me in that way because she could see it was something I was interested in. But maybe I was a bit timid to pursue it. She was really inspiring in the way she dressed herself and the approach she has to fashion, it’s a very refreshing approach.
Were you interested in fashion from quite a young age then?
I was always really interested in clothes and how you can construct a version of yourself. There are plenty of moments where it didn’t necessarily stand to me. I do remember having “Spaceman” shouted by a man at me when I walked down the street in a puffer jacket and I definitely had a few sort of interesting spice girl moments; we all know that moment. I taught myself how to sew at the age of 15 and had to do this project in school, where you could do anything you want, which is actually very intimidating for a 15 year old, we’re so used to being in school and prescribed what we have to do. So I bought a book and taught myself how to pattern cut and I made a winter coat for myself. The main reason for the coat was to get me into pubs and make me look old enough. From there it just went on, we were really big into music festivals, I would design outfits to go to those in in my head, taking inspiration from the fashion in the UK and in my mind that’s what everyone in Dublin did. So I remember going to my first dance festival and being dressed head-to-toe in my urban creations and people were just staring at me wondering what we were on.
Who are your favourite Irish designers?
I think it’s very well documented that Simone Rocha is taking over the world, and what she is achieving out there is really fantastic. And before her, John Rocha has done some fantastic things. For a small country, with not a particularly strong culture of design, I think we’ve produced some pretty amazing talents.
Who are your favourite international designers?
I don’t really look at other contemporary designers because I think it would be distracting from my own work. I really love Cristóbal Balenciaga, he would be my all time favourite. Rei Kawakubo the founder of Comme des Garçons is a great inspiration; she has such a refreshing approach to fashion.
Do you draw from your Irish heritage for inspiration?
I’m very interested in textures and embellishments and I think Irish craft plays a role in that.
Did you notice any different approaches towards fashion and design from working in different countries?
My experience from working in Italy showed me that Italians are very focused on the sketches of their beautiful draftsmen. And what the non-Italians brought to the team was a focus on 3 -dimensional work or drape, things that could not be developed just on paper. The biggest difference really though is a cultural difference between a really design-led studio and a more commercial-led studio. I worked for one designer in London, and her name is above the door, she’s the designer and she didn’t bring a single piece of visional research to the entire collection or draw a single thing. She did attend the fittings and announce what she thought.
You focus on fabrics and textures a lot, would you have a preferred fabric or texture you like to work with?
There are some things I go back to. I like transparency because you can layer a lot of colour in quite a subtle way. I also like leather – although I’m quite careful of how I source it and use it. I guess I like lace, and I always hated lace until very recently. When I did this project in the Royal college of Art, where I did my Masters, they had a competition brief between Swarovski and Sophie Hallette who is a very famous French heritage lace house – two things, crystals and lace that I would have never put in my work, ever. But I think you can often do your best work when you’re forced to work outside your comfort zone. I now try to use lace with an unexpected and mannish approach.
Would you like to invent your own fabrics?
When it comes to fabrics, I don’t see it as an invention, I see it more as an evolution. But we create a few of our fabrics in house. This season for autumn/winter, which is just dropping into stores this week, we developed this leather Odoshi technique which was taken from Samurai armour. They are like leather scales that are laced together using thread; they bend and flex with the body.
What do you prefer in the designing process, drawing or sketching?
I like to combine them, that’s what so great about working for yourself. I always start off sketching in a new collection to get some idea or shape, then I drape, and then I go back and sketch again. For instance though for the spring/summer collection I’ll be presenting in September at the London fashion week, there was a lot of draping.
How did the collaboration with Neutrogena work with your own designs?
I proposed a few different designs, I was really delighted that they went with this one, because it was my favourite one. The design is inspired by an Italian design movement called Memphis that was really big in the 80s. I wanted the design to be bespoke to the bottle shape so that it swirls around the current visibly clear Neutrogena logo. I wanted to give mass product a bespoke design and I also looked at the pink fluid nature of the product itself. So the end result is this “trippy” kind of colourful, slightly camouflage print. It was a great project to work on; I really enjoyed it.
You’re wearing one of your designs now – do you wear them often?
I think it’s really good as a designer to wear your own clothes, so you know the feel. The things you wear a lot, maybe someone else will wear a lot. It’s also really important to feel how they feel to wear. What makes something stand out in your wardrobe and makes you want to wear it for years? Fit, comfort and how great it makes you look. If you feel comfortable in it, you’re going to look great in it.
What should we expect from Danielle Romeril next?
I’m really looking forward to September; my third show at London Fashion Week. It’s quite a different collection from winter, it’s definitely lighter, a bit more undone, a bit less strict, a little bit less polished and more colourful. And then there is some exciting footwear news coming along in September. After London Fashion Week, Vogue Italia are taking me and seven other designers to put on a Vogue talents exhibition at Milan Fashion Week.