ZootMagazine meets the budding London-based womenswear designer Danny Tang who presents his antonymous Autumn/Winter 2011 collection entitled ‘Gentlemanly Feminine‘.
By Lucy Mclean
The Malaysian born designer moved to London in 2004 where he attended London College of Fashion and the Instituto Marangoni before working with designers Nana Aganavish and Ana Sekularac, as well as carrying out successful freelance design and styling projects.
The first Danny Tang collection, launched back in 2009 consisted purely of accessories; shrugs, collars, belts and neck pieces; which were created specifically to add interest and glamour to the “simple black dress”. His debut womenswear collection then followed in A/W 2010, showcasing a signature style with impressive attention to detail and an eye for high quality craftsmanship, being presented as part of the prestigious Vauxhall Fashion Scout show during London Fashion Week.
Tang now shows his widely acclaimed collections internationally each season, seen in New York, London, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Zoot Magazine: What is the initial concept behind the Danny Tang label?
Danny Tang: The core concept about Danny Tang is playing with the opposite side of elements such as masculine / feminine and ying & yang. I believe that women can be really strong in their looks and I want to create dresses that emphasise this strength.
Zoot:Tell us a bit about the ‘Gentlemanly Feminine’ theme that surrounds your A/W 2011 collection…
DT: Because the core concept of the Danny Tang label is about femininity and masculinity, I wanted to use a very masculine idea and turn it into really feminine dresses. So I took the ideas from male tuxedo jackets and tuxedo trousers of the Hollywood era and turned this concept to glamorous, feminine dresses that had both strong and soft elements with of course my signature hand beading.
Zoot: What is your most memorable moment in fashion so far
DT: I have been in fashion for the past 10 years and I have to say it was meeting Alexander McQueen.
I met him in a club and rushed up to him and told him “I’m your biggest fan” and he tried to get away from me, he thought I was the most crazy person in the world. He is one of the major reasons why I started working in fashion.
Zoot: What most inspires you?
DT: LIFE… Life in general inspires me, and history. When I am working on a collection I am totally focused on that. For the first collection ["Urban Victorian" AW10] I used Queen Victoria as my inspiration. My latest SS12 collection is inspired from an idea I got when I was travelling to Japan…
Zoot: Do you think you were greatly influenced from your childhood and fashion training in Kuala Lumpur?
DT: I was greatly inspired by my training in Kuala Lumpur, particularly for my beading skills which I got from there. I was fascinated with fashion when I was younger but in Malaysia I didn’t have the chance to dream about being a designer. When I moved to England I realised that the dream was right in front of me.
Zoot: What is your favourite thing about living in London?
DT: NOT the food or the weather! It is London, the city itself, that I love. You can walk around and see different cultures and I love the edginess of London. England is supposed to be a very classy country but London somehow became really fashion forward and edgy.
Zoot: What do you think makes the British fashion scene unique from its European and International counterparts?
DT: I think because of the whole history of Carnaby Street, as it was such a change after the war. People trying to be very expressive. London has the individuality!
Zoot: What was your first real job in the fashion industry?
DT: I was an intern for Malaysian designer Lester Wong, he was the person who gave me my first fashion job and introduced me into the fashion scene. He also wrote me a recommendation which enabled me to become the youngest fashion student ever in Malaysia.
Zoot: In 2009 when the Danny Tang label was first launched the collection was comprised only of accessories, did you always know you were going to launch a full clothing collection after this?
DT: Yes. The initial idea of launching the accessories was to give a sneak peak of what the Danny Tang label was going to be like. It caught everyone by surprise that my accessories became so popular.
I think accessories are there to complement what women are wearing. If someone is innovative enough they will make the accessories stand out, this is what the little black dress is for.
Zoot: Describe your experience at last years London Fashion Week as part of the Vauxhall Fashion Scout show…
DT: It was very good. I knew the VFS team before and when they invited me to have a slot at their showcase I was very honoured.
Zoot: Who do you find the most influential British and International designers on the scene today?
DT: I think in my heart that there will never be a designer again who can replace what Alexander McQueen meant to me. I think Sarah Burton is doing an amazing job, although she makes the brand a little bit softer rather than edgy.
Zoot: What music are you listening to at the moment?
DT: Because I was so inspired by the whole Hollywood Theme for the Gentlemanly Feminine collection, I am listening to old Hollywood music, everything from Cole Porter, Danah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday to Fred Astaire.
Zoot: If you could design a piece for anyone in the world, what would it be and why?
DT: I would probably have to say the Queen as that would give my brand fantastic exposure. I would design whatever her majesty pleases!! Probably an evening dress for her.
Zoot: What most attracts you to a life in fashion?
DT: The opportunity to use my creative talent, work with stunning and expensive fabrics and empower women by creating beautiful dresses for them.
Zoot: What is your favourite part of the design process?
DT: Research. You need to do a lot of research before you can present an innovative idea and it has to be cohesive and needs to fit the aesthetic of your label.
Zoot: What is your hidden talent?
DT: As a fashion designer I think you shouldn’t hide any talent as you need to expose all talents as much as you can to make your label a success. I’m still discovering new talents as I develop my label.
Zoot: How do you see the Danny Tang label evolving in the future?
DT: I will continue to evolve the label in the future to keep it alive and fresh and to attract more international buyers and press. I think fashion and running a label and life is about hard work and at the same time we also need that little bit of luck…