At Work with Daniel Vosovic

THE DESIGNER: Daniel Vosovic
VISITED: February 2012
HERE: Chelsea, New York

Lauren David Peden drops by Daniel V’s sunny studio to get the scoop on his new collection and life after Project Runway.

First thing first: Yes, Daniel Vosovic is as nice, laid-back, and charming in real life as he was on season two of Project Runway, which is where America first fell in love with the talented Michigan native.

Since then, Daniel has written Fashion Inside Out a how-to book for emerging designers (which features yours truly), won the Project Runway All-Star Challenge and, in 2010, launched an eponymous collection of beautifully tailored womenswear designed for forward-thinking fashionistas who like their classics with an edgy, urbane twist.

We meet in his spacious workroom on the border of Chelsea and the West Village, where he’s surrounded by his studio mascot, Delilah (a “beautiful little plaster creature”), 3D artwork by boyfriend Kieran’s younger brother, toy dinosaurs in a glass display case, industrial sewing machines, a mood board filled with black-and-white images of brooding tweens, and his drop-dead gorgeous fall 2012 collection. “This is the growing Polaroid wall,” he says of the dozen-plus photos of his tight-knit group of friends that are taped to the white brick wall. “It’s like everyone is sort of giving off their own energy.” These are the folks with whom Daniel and Kieran spend every Wednesday night in a weekly ritual that the designer lists as one of his main methods of renewal, ordering in takeout and watching bad TV (RuPaul’s Drag Race and E! Fashion Police are current faves).

Daniel himself gives off an open, easygoing, infectiously friendly energy – not to say he isn’t deadly serious when it comes to his work. Take fall 2012, which was inspired by his teen years in mid-’90s Grand Rapids. “I found all these old photos in the attic while visiting my parents last year, and that just sort of kickstarted everything.”

The resulting collection – full of updated school uniforms, elongated boyfriend jerseys, leather-sleeved varsity jackets, boiled wool sweatshirts, fitted jean jackets, and skinny pants in luxe fabrics – is aimed at decidedly grown-up gals. While the collection may reference the past, it never feels retro or overly girly. “The thing is, my woman is never weak,” said Daniel while showing me a shrunken grey-and-black gym jacket and some chic, stand-alone collars meant to be worn as necklaces. “I love the idea of the Pink Lady [from Grease] who can still kick some ass!” And then there’s the shimmery blue, water-stained Skylight print, based on his memory of making out in the back of his car and taken from a digital photograph of a wet windshield. “It’s the idea of sneaking out when you’re 16 years old and having these little love trysts,” he said with a sly grin.

For adult trysts, he’s offering silk charmeuse dresses that feel incredibly sensuous against the skin, along with more workaday shirt dresses, asymmetrical miniskirts, and sporty outerwear – including one seriously stylish peplumed puffer vest.

While Daniel professes to find perfection “boring” (hence the skewed hemlines and artfully untucked shirttails), he lives to make women look and feel great. “At the end of the day,” he says, “I just want to make beautiful clothes.”

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

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April 6, 2012

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