Style File: Danielle Gardner from Devel Men and Women

Danielle Gardner designer and owner of Devel Men and Women. Image by David Watson.

Danielle Gardner is living out her retro fashion dreams as the designer and owner of Devel Men and Women which specialises in fabulous vintage-inspired clothing. Vintage fashion has been enjoying a renaissance since Mad Men appeared on our screens in 2007 and Danielle’s label has an ever growing following who love her flattering silhouettes and playful designs. She also does a custom-made service so you can collaborate with her on a perfect bespoke garment or outfit.

We caught up with Danielle to find out more about her label, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!

Tell us about your latest collection?
My most recent collection is called Freshly Squeezed and is a fun and bright summer collection, with a strong citrus hit. The silhouette is 1950s-inspired, and the collection features citrus wedges made into full circle skirts, wiggle skirts with fun and clever pockets, and crisp classic tees and button-up blouses in white. It’s hard to see this collection and not smile! It’s bright, cheerful and wonderfully flattering for all body types.

What made you become a designer? 
I was always creative as a child, and was constantly encouraged by my mum to explore lots of different creative outlets. From around the age of 10 I would watch the music video countdown on tv every Sunday morning and learnt from them that the way you create an identity and show the world who you are is through clothing. Even the cartoons we grew up with (Jem, Sailor Moon, Batman, X-Men) taught you that to become your most epic self, you change your clothes. Then, as a teen, I started getting into punky comics, music and fashion, and learnt all there was to learn about the UK punk movement.  Vivienne Westwood became my new real-life hero, and she still is to this day. Once I started designing clothes for myself and wearing the hell out of them at high school, I could never stop. I studied fashion design at AUT, and started my label Devel Men & Women as soon as I left with my degree. My thirst for design is insatiable.

What inspires you?
While I grew up a punk kid, my tastes broadened in my late-teens/early 20’s and took on other music and design influences. These days I can’t get enough of anything and everything mid-century; be it fashion, graphic design, architecture, or automotive design. It’s all just so very beautiful, and often functionally clever and witty too! I’m also inspired by people and the personal identities they have created for themselves and their creative work. I’ve been running a design project called Devel Vs Project, where I design and make a unique garment for a creative, from any field, inspired by them and their work. It has been so much fun! While clever retro design inspires my style, it is people that are the wearers of the clothing at the end of the day, and I love making clothing that truly sings to the heart of its wearer. That way, the garment can truly be loved and cherished, and make the wearer feel like their most epic self when wearing it.

Describe your personal style and how it influences your products and brand?
My personal style is a mix of retro-influences, actual vintage, and punky DIY pieces. Some days I’m a retro cutie-pie, with white ankle socks and Mary-Janes, on others I stomp around in one of my (many) fave pairs of Docs and lots of black. I feel comfortable and ‘myself’ in both, as both styles represent different parts of my personality and interests. While most of the clothing I make under my Devel Men & Women label has a strong 1950’s/1960’s influence, I tend towards clothes that are less froufrou, and instead make the wearer look like a true badass. Think more juvenile delinquents and beatniks, with a chic sense of confidence, rather than pristine, bubble-gum teens of the 1950s.

Images from Devel Men and Women’s Freshly Squeezed collection.

What is your all-time favourite purchase? 
This is a tough one!  Locally, it would be a glamorous early 1960s matching dress and jacket combo from BellaVintage, in teal and gold, and my handmade 1950 Vogue cover clutch by Estelle of Brighton. Internationally, it would have to be my champagne bottle-shaped wristlet purse by Kate Spade and stunning lingerie sets from Agent Provocateur. Treat yo’self!

What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
At least one piece of custom, made-for-you clothing. Something that isn’t just for one occasion, that is a wee bit epic, and will give you all the confidence you need to take on the world! A secret weapon statement garment, if you will.

Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Volume on top or bottom, not both.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Gosh, this year has started off so strongly, after having a really great year last year too. Every day seems to be turning up the next highlight! Right this moment, I am working on the most epic statement garment, for the biggest, most exciting design collaboration I’ve done to date! And I’ll be going to LA in April to hand it over and shoot with this creative hero of mine. I’m beyond excited! It’s all a big secret right now, but the mystery will unfold on my website’s blog over the next month. Stay tuned!

What can’t you live without?
My creative outlet, my Docs, my music, ice-cream and my bff, mentor and husband, Steve.

Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Crocs. Ever. Shoe options are cute, sexy or badass only.

Images from Devel Men and Women’s Freshly Squeezed collection.

Images courtesy of Devel Men and Women.

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