by Mira Dayal
Named one of the "10 Most Promising Designers" by Vogue Italy in 2012, Daniel Silverstain has since become an innovative fashion icon.
What experiences led to your interest in fashion? What have been some of your most exciting experiences (shows abroad, partnerships, breakthroughs) so far?
To tell the truth, even though I grew up surrounded by fashion and manufacturing (having both of my parents running a fashion company back in Israel), I was the one in the family always trying to avoid it. I have studied music since I was 7 years old, and that's all I was concentrating on. I clearly remember always saying to my parents that I am musician and I am not interested in fashion. Later I became a record artist, releasing albums and performing across the country. After my army service, I felt like I needed to be away for awhile, and decided to travel to Nepal and India for 6 months. Asia was a game changer for me, as I started exploring textiles with knitting, screen printing, and even jewelry making. On my last day in India, I decided I wanted to continue studying these worlds of design, and 3 months later I applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.
Since I was a young kid I loved New York—the energy, rhythm, possibilities—and always dreamt about living here one day. At the time I was sure it would be for my music career. I couldn't imagine I would be follow the footsteps of my family and launch my own label as a fashion designer. I would say moving to the city all the way from Israel was the most important step I have done. Many exciting opportunities followed this move. I began studying fashion, winning "10 Most Promising Designers" by Vogue Italy two years later. Showing in New York Fashion Week with ELLE Magazine while still being a student, working for amazing international brands brands such as 3.1 Phillip Lim, Calving Klein, Elie Tahari, launching my own brand, dressing up Lady Gaga for her birthday, and the list keep going..
Where do you see your brand heading in the future, both physically and in terms of design? How do you think your brand sets itself apart from other young designer brands?
DANIEL SILVERSTAIN collection gained organic exposure even before I launched the brand. The most repetitive comment I received from day one was that the product is different from what's out there, and yet it's very wearable and comfortable. This is our main goal - to create unique designs that make women feel special and stand out in the crowd yet remain comfortable. Today's market is extremely saturated and full of talent. I believe that we hold on to a very important balance of luxury materials with unique aesthetic, and comfort. At the end of the day, individuals who buy luxury products want to feel their purchase was price worthy and makes them stand out. It can be translated with amazing textiles, great craftsmanship and fit, but most importantly they need to be able to live in these great designs and not feel as if they are wearing a costume.
I love being part of fitting with private clients coming to our studio. There is an immediate transformation in the way they stand and carry themselves once they are dressed up in our collection. The look on their face is priceless. Many times they don't even expect to look like they do, or think they can't pull it off. But once they are in this dress, their mindset changes about themselves and they look confident and powerful. Fashion has a lot of influence on the way we behave, and great design can lift us up immediately. My dream is to dress more and more women and make each of them stand out in their individual way.
I am very intrigued by the accessories market and looking forward to start develop that niche to complete a total look of DS woman.
Why womenswear? Do you see yourself widening the brand into menswear in the future?
There is no direct answer to that to be honest. I simply chose fashion design back in school, and felt very natural in this environment. Womenswear categories are a bit larger than men's, with dresses, skirts, and non ending materials to use. There is not a single material you can't use and translate into womenswear, while menswear is a bit more strict and functional. Most men are very straightforward with their fashion, and usually it is more about the styling than a single unique item. With that being said, I did explore once with a small capsule collection for men which received great response, and I am sure I will get back to it soon enough. It is definitely an interesting, fast-growing market, which in a way has much more to evolve to compare to women.
In contemporary culture, gender fluidity is increasingly brought into discussions across all aspects of life. How do you see this playing out in fashion and design?
I see it all the time. I mean, I myself wear some of the items I design even though they were made for women. As I said, menswear has a lot of room to grow still as far as categories. I am sure we will see in the future men wearing skirts and dresses (it's not like it never happened in our history). I feel like today women are very open in terms of wearing anything, even menswear, and society is more and more accepting of it. Men are still exploring it but there is definitely an evolution happening.
You cite 20th century art and architecture as sources of inspiration for your work-- who are some of your favorite artists and architects? What shows, performances, or projects have you enjoyed recently?
The BAUHAUS Movement. My family is from Tel Aviv, Israel, which is home to more Bauhaus buildings than anywhere in the world and recognized by UNESCO as a "Heritage Treasure." I always adored architecture (and almost decided to study it instead of fashion), so I feel big part of me is still designing as if I design for a building. I find the Bauhaus has a timeless futuristic aesthetic. It represents functionalism, minimalism, and geometry. One main principle of the Bauhaus is the reunion of the arts and the crafts in order to achieve total works of art. According to this principle, all arts, as well as new technologies, should be combined in the art of building. It is interesting since I never explored or learned about this movement directly until much later, and yet my designs and overall aesthetic have been influenced by it from beginning.