Danielle Zaslavsky is a designer you need to keep your eye on. Her designs are modern and trendsetting, some major factors that will continue to set her apart in the fashion world. She also truly understands the necessary steps to get her brand where she wants it to be. She’s headed in the right direction, with her first step being the Italian factory that she manufactures her garments at: MASSARDI. With a client list entailing well-respected brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana and Rick Owens, MASSARDI is known for their luxurious fur and leather. Combined with their expertise, Danielle’s vast knowledge of quality fabrics and innovative construction is what will make her a household name in the years to come. I met up with her to discuss her style icons along with some kick-ass advice you don’t want to miss. Check out the interview below.
TBL: Tell me about your design background.
DZ: I grew up in Miami, Florida, and attended the Design Architecture Senior High school to study fashion. Afterwards, I went to Parsons to study Fashion Design.
TBL: What is a major lesson you learned from going to Parson’s?
DZ: Time management, definitely. That is the most important aspect in design. You have to know how to space out your work so you can put the correct amount of energy into it. I’d rather have a collection I spent a really long time on instead of a project I did half as well because I didn’t manage my time. There are so many other things going on at the same time, like contests that designers host at the school, so you have to balance everything at once. Also, group projects can be challenging since everyone has such different ideas when creating something, so it’s important to know how to work together efficiently.
TBL: What are the necessary steps you take from transforming an idea into a piece of clothing?
DZ: I take my sketches and then go to MASSARDI, a factory in Italy where all of my designs are produced. I spend about two weeks with them there explaining the look I am trying to achieve, my mood, and color scheme, and work with them until my collection is complete.
TBL: Why did you choose to use MASSARDI, as opposed to other companies?
DZ: The quality is amazing, and you can’t compromise that. Since they work with such high-end brands like Dolce & Gabbana, I knew that I was going to be happy with the outcome. It was cool to be able to see the Roberto Cavalli collection before it came out and get inspiration from that. It’s also a lot more expensive to produce a collection in America.
TBL: How long does it usually take from start to finish?
DZ: It took me about a month and a half. But I finished my collection much earlier. My thesis was due on May 18th and everything was done by December.
TBL: What is a lesson you’ve learned from using a manufacturing company in overseas?
DZ: There are two months out of the year, July and August, where all of Europe’s factories are closed, so you definitely want to get your decisions made before all of that happens. I try and outsource work like this because I put a lot of importance on not using companies that have sweat shops when making clothing. But when I’m in New York, I usually do things locally to promote local business and support the fashion community in the Garment District, which is almost non-existent now.
TBL: Who are some of your favorite up and coming designers?
DZ: I love Phoebe Philo. She is the Creative Director of Celine and the person behind Stella McCartney’s rebranding of her image. Stella is much more modern and clean now because of her. Another one of my favorite designers is a Russian brand called Terekhov.
TBL: Who is your style icon?
DZ: I love Miroslava Duma. She has an edgy, girly look where she wears a lot of sweaters, skirts, band t-shirts, and DANNIJO jewelry. That would be one style I really love.
TBL: Where did you intern?
DZ: I interned at V Magazine, during the time where they launched V-Files. V-Files is an online archive of every magazine you can think of. I used to scan so many editorials of American and Japanese Vogue’s that aren’t even accessible to get to anymore. Every single campaign, runway look, you name it, they have it.
TBL: What was your favorite part of working at V Magazine?
DZ: One thing I love about them is that they really support up and coming designers. They are very much into street wear and urban brands.
TBL: What is some advice you give to up and coming designers in the fashion industry?
DZ: You need to know yourself and not pay attention to anyone else. The first few years of school is a struggle, because you have to find out who you are as a designer and establish yourself as a brand. The main goal is to get to your customer once you discover who they are. Don’t half-ass your work, and understand time management and you will be successful.
TBL: How did you find your customer?
DZ: For me, it was hard for me to find my customer because I don’t have one particular style in the way I dress. One morning, I’ll wake up and go to lunch with my family, and wear a nice dress that’s more traditional, and another day I’ll be grabbing brunch with my friends in Brooklyn and wear a flannel and jeans. I used to ask myself, “how am I supposed to narrow it down to one person?” But if you can’t figure out who they are, you won’t have a successful collection or be a successful designer. You really can’t design for everybody.
Get her look:
Seven for All Mankind overall dress
Cartier love bracelet and ring
Collier de chain Hermes cuff
Yellow neon bracelet from a market in Mykonos
Chanel crossbody bag
Miu Miu sunglasses
Stockings from Duane Reade
(Editor’s note: Danielle is now working as a stylist and personal shopper at Chanel in New York City).
Photos of Danielle and story by: Blair Cassuto
Photos taken in New York City.