Designer Danielle Jordan is a recent graduate from the prestigious Bachelor’s Degree course in Fashion at the Limerick School of Art and Design. Her work takes in a variety of influences that range from Vivienne Westwood to science-fiction to wearable technology. These influences all come together to create futuristic fashion that is incredibly 21st century in both its look and approach. Totally Dublin caught up with Danielle to find out how she got this far and look into what she has lined up as her career continues to blossom.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and where you’re from originally?
I’m originally from Clondalkin, Dublin 22. I was born and reared here. I went back to study in Limerick as a mature student – well I was 24. After school I had worked in construction in a personal assistant and administration role and quickly I was like, I shouldn’t be doing this. It just wasn’t for me. I needed to be doing something more creative. So I applied for Ballyfermot College of Further Education and I did a Higher National Diploma in Textile and Fibre Arts Design. At the start I had no plans really to continue [with it], I was just going with the flow and seeing how I got on, but really I just had such an interest in materials and in fashion.
Even though it was a great course, it was more about surfaces and textures, whereas I wanted to learn more about the construction of garments and pattern drafting. So I did my research and I was told by numerous people that Limerick was one of the best places to go in Ireland, so I applied and got in there. Even though it’s not a huge move, at the time for me it was a big one, but it was just something that I felt had I to do for myself. So I’m graduating next month. It’s a really good course but it’s very tough. You have to love it.
That’s a slightly unusual route to get there – had you always worked in fashion, or was it something you realised when you were working in another field?
Well I had always had a big interest in art, that had always been my favourite subject in school. When I was in Ballyfermot, obviously it was more texture and fabric-based. I guess [fashion] was something that I discovered along the journey, along my own way.
I really like conceptual stuff, I really like fine art, like thinking outside-the-box, and even now I like more out-there, avant-garde kind of fashion. So I did kind of struggle with that for a while. Like, could I combine the two, garment construction and fine art? And Limerick, thankfully, they’re very open. They’re not commercially driven at all. They’re really open to pushing the boundaries of your creativity, of being as out there and as crazy as you want to be, which is fantastic and I really, really loved about it. I got to do both, the fine art with the design and the garment construction all in.
You have this collection, Rewired, which was your graduate collection, and it has this fairly abstract influence, is that typical of your process?
Yeah, I’m really interested in technology, and wearable technology and where the future is going in terms of cyborg. It sounds kind of sci-fi, but you know yourself, the way technology is changing so fast, you don’t know in the next five or ten years what’s coming.
Can you tell me a little bit more about how the story of Claudia Mitchell inspired your collection?
Claudia Mitchell is the first bionic woman. She was a US Marine who lost her arm in a motorbike accident, and surgeons transplanted nerves from her arm onto her chest. If you lose a limb, your brain still thinks that your limb is there. So the prosthetic is detachable, and they attach that to her chest and the brain is able to control it. I took it as technology and biology working together as one, so that was played out in my collection.
I had too many ideas! I wanted to implement textures, but I also wanted to push my pattern drafting abilities, and I also wanted to experiment with technology. So I collaborated with a friend of mine who was a computer programmer who was studying in Maynooth. It was kind of new to him, so we decided to implement LED lights as the technology. For the first three of the garments, it was influenced by the prosthetic arm and the build of the prosthetic arm. I saw the fabric as the biological element and then the textures and the LED lights as the technological aspect.
The other three garments, I thought of how I’d feel if I lost a limb, and how as humans, if anything happens to our physical appearance, we tend to magnify it. So imagine losing an arm? There’s an emotional and physical hole there. So I started creating these holes in my garments, like there was something that was missing.
On the last garment I collaborated with a programmer using a small computer called a Raspberry Pi to control LED lights. That was a really big challenge for both of us. The LED lights moved and we created different sequences to represent the heartbeat or the nervous system around the chest area.
What are some of your influences from within the fashion world?
I was always very interested in Vivienne Westwood. I know she wouldn’t be as out-there as Comme Des Garçons. It’s her background, how she came from nowhere and was very much self-taught and was very creative with her pattern drafting. I just find her very interesting; she’s always been an influence of mine.
When I started in Limerick, it really opened up my eyes to contemporary fashion and futuristic fashion. That’s something I wouldn’t have been exposed to before then. Futuristic fashion is very much a style of its own and it would very much be an influence of mine.
I’m really interested in sustainable fashion designer so I travelled to Berlin last summer as I knew the city and I worked with Benu Berlin which is a really small label over there.
So you’ve just graduated now, what are your plans for the future?
At the moment I’m working as a wardrobe trainee on a television series, as I’ve an interest in costume design as well, but obviously fashion is where I would like to go. So I’m hoping to get a graduate visa and travel to New York next year and try to find a place working within the fashion industry over there.
For all the latest on Danielle’s work, check out lsadgraduates.ie/danielle-jordan and her Facebook page
Beck’s have a longstanding involvement in artistic movements around the word and have recently launched a new campaign called BeKreativ, which is showcasing creative talent from around Ireland for the next few years. Check out Beck’s BeKreativ campaign at #BeKreativ and bekreativ.ie