Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shərt\ a : a cloth garment usually having a collar, sleeves, a front opening, and a tail long enough to be tucked inside trousers or a skirt

On my very first visit to Delhi I remember sitting in the back of the taxi trying to take it all in and what I remembered the most was that all the men rushing around the crowded streets were wearing dress shirts. All of them, not a polo or a tee shirt, no tunics or tanks, just collard, long sleeved button front shirts. I was amazed at how easily this article of clothing could be a uniform for an entire city.

During another taxi ride here in New York I remember asking my then boss to look out the window and see how many women were wearing a woven shirt. The answer was none after a 10 minute ride from Gramercy Park to the Garment District she had not spotted a single woman in a woven shirt. The fantasy of this girl in her boyfriend’s shirt did not exist. Even with iconic moments like Sharon Stone at the 1998 oscars in a Gap shirt or Lauren Hutton elegantly placed inside the ease of loose fitting dress shirt in the 70’s it never could compete with the popularity of the tee shirt.

I’ve always had an affinity for the dress shirt and certainly am not one to wear a tee shirt. Maybe it was 12 years of private school that did it or the fact that no matter what else you were wearing it added a bit of “finish” to the look. So naturally after launching my then dress collection the first shirt I made was a dress shirt called Xavier (after the school). Over the seasons we have made the Xavier in everything from cotton doby to denim and most recently leather. I love how this classic basic shirt with a few details can represent such style. A rolled up sleeve and unbuttoned collar versus the buttoned to the top cuffed sleeve are worlds apart in terms of style but both come from the same shirt.

The dress shirt, blue – collar or white collar is probably my single most favorite article of clothing. Play with one this spring, see how it takes on your personality and your style. Tied at the waist in denim like Jennifer Lawrence in the May issue of Teen Vogue or all buttoned up like Rashida Jones in Lucky, ultimately the right one for you is out there.

bright turquoise blue on the streets of Delhi


printed & layered in Delhi

Sharon Stone in Gap shirt & Vera Wang skirt

Lauren Hutton

Diane Keaton

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

Ricky Lauren

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

Diana Vreeland

Mary Kate Steinmiller

Madeline Andrews Escudero

Dallin Chase spring 2009

Dallin Chase fall 2010

Rashida Jones Lucky Magazine

Jennifer Lawrence Teen Vogue

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fa-brik\ b : underlying structure

Many years ago in Paris while shopping Première VisionI found myself next to an editor I recognized from New York. She was asking questions about the new fabrics being presented and I wondered what she was doing there. I introduced myself and learned that she was the textile fashion editor for WWD and a who’s who in the textile world. Everyone from couture mills like Jakob Schlaepfer and Abraham to Gentili Mosconi knew her and gushed at the mere mention of her name. From that day on, our mutual interest in fabrics and design turned into a friendship.

Daniela has a discerning style that is never forced or trendy. Each time we met, the detail on a coat or the tailoring of a pant left me wondering, where she got that. Sometimes they were one-offs she found shopping a friend's sample sale. Others items like a vintage YSL baseball jacket in the most gorgeous mohair/wool blend were from her mother’s closet. No matter the designer, it never reflected them, but rather her.

Many years later I shared with Daniela that I was planning on starting my own collection. Her enthusiasm and support were priceless. She asked questions that helped me understand what Dallin Chase was supposed to be and wove her way into what has become the underlying structure of what Dallin Chase is. We were at Bergdorf Goodman and she turned to me and said “what you are describing is comfort without looking casual”. The idea that the dresses I wanted to create would be comfortable but not casual crystallized and became the cornerstone of what I set out to do with my collection. Sure enough the best selling dress in my first collection was the “Dani”, a color blocked jersey dress with pockets and a triangle bodice. 

Since then, Daniela has moved on to work for many of the most impressive creators in New York fashion: DVF, Ralph Rucci, Isaac Mizrahi and now, Narciso Rodriguez. Contributing her knowledge of fabric and design in a way other than as a journalist has been exciting to see. Even with the change in career, her style is consistent. She plays with classic proportions that she tailors to match the season or current look and makes it her own. Signatures from the pulled back chignon and her piercing green eyes to the antique three diamond ring on her right hand seem to outdo any of the impeccable coats that top her shoulders in the winter. Daniela understands who she is and who she wants to be and with that, has inspired in me the woman I want to design for. 

Daniela visiting the Dallin Chase showroom to share some vintage fabric swatches and inspiration for next season.  Sweater, Dallin Chase 2010; necklace, J-crew

Daniela's Cuban grandmother's three diamond right hand ring

swatches from Daniela's archive from the last 15 years

more swatches

Daniela's mother's vintage Gucci bag, vintage embroidered beaded evening purse, vintage antique tortoise monogram card holder.

beautiful colors and embroidery, mixed with the gold & natural cut turquoise stones

vintage chain mail coin purse with Daniela's initals

Daniela shares an old National Geographic tear

Daniela's Barney's Coop sunglasses rest atop glittery, sparkling fabrics and a sequin spangled scarf by Jakob Schlaepfer.

Daniela's menswear military coat and Chloe purse