Sexy yet subversive, Danni McWilliams' debut collection HOME GIRLS has already caused a stir in the public domain
Danni McWilliams' HOME GIRLS has been shown at prestigious events and firm favourites on the Scottish fashion scene such as Nightwalk and Bold Souls. The Heriot-Watt graduate began her creative journey long before starting art school, following in the footsteps of other family members in their love of designing and making. McWilliams explains: "Not to sound cliché but anyone who knows me, knows that my love of clothing and styling has been a lifelong affair!
"My mum sewed clothes for herself and her friends as teenager, made me dresses and knitted my dad scarves and jumpers." She adds, "My dad’s family ran a kids' clothing company for a while based in my auntie's house so from a young age I always had scraps of cloth I could play with or I was knitting with my gran."
However, her biggest influence (whom she cites as her mentor and support) is cousin and homewear and accessories designer Nikki McWilliams, of Tunnock's Teacake cushion fame, whose work has been included in the likes of Marie Claire, Vogue (and of course, The Skinny!) and is stocked in Selfridges, the DCA and has recently appeared on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces. Danni says: "She has achieved so much personally that her advice and encouragement has been invaluable to me. I seriously feel very lucky that I am able to pick up the phone anytime and she’s there to offer me advice. Just catching up with her always leaves me feeling all inspired and positive!"
As well as being exposed to designing and making from a young age, McWilliam also looks further afield for her inspirations. HOME GIRLS is mainly influenced by the look of the American hip-hop scene of the 1990s, its street culture and the lives of young Mexican girls who were heavily involved within gangs. McWilliams is particularly interested in the "amalgamation of American youth culture and with the traditional Mexican culture." Think stunning minimalist dresses, cropped tops and dungaree shapes, all with a distinctly sports luxe feel.
McWilliams explains that in her view, "The collection is for individuals who have a certain outlook on what it means to be a woman. The HOME GIRLS collection is designed to project strength and individuality while retaining the ability to be sexy no matter what is traditionally considered so. "
As well as these influences, McWilliams also feels that growing up in Scotland and being based in Glasgow has influenced her collection's aesthetic: "Although it is hard to say exactly how this manifests itself in my designs, I think there is definitely a certain vibe to the way I style my work overall that comes from the way Glasgow feels as city to me. Glasgow’s social and cultural history is certainly something I have a particular adoration for and it's undoubtedly shaped my view of how people choose to present themselves in their environment."
When it comes to the designing and making of the collection, McWilliam focuses on colour, cut and using the right material. "I really like high quality, predominately natural fibre-based fabrics. I look for materials that have a feel of comfort, quality and a handle that lends itself to the garment."
The designer is now based in a "curious looking building" on West Regent Street which is shared with artists Lady K & Bones studio, Devils Own Apparel, Jetpace industries and RIG bike shop, where McWilliams held an open studio event earlier in the year. "It’s a great space with a nice little group vibe about it," she explains. "It’s been more than useful having my machines up and ready to go whenever I need. Plus it’s really convenient for fittings and being able to meet (clients) in the city centre like that."
As well as selling to the fashion forward public of Scotland, McWilliams has also designed merchandise for Glasgow band The Amazing Snakeheads and has been working with singer songwriter Laura St. Jude over the past year on various stage pieces.
How does it feel to have achieved so much in 2013? "To have people willing to spend their hard earned money on something you’ve worked so hard on is certainly what I find most gratifying."
"I have learned a lot over the past year and had the pleasure of working with a lot of lovely, talented people and really now I’m just excited to get my next collection ready to launch!"
So what does McWilliams have planned for 2014? "I have a new project on the cards with Manchester based jewellery designer Ciara Clark." Clark's bright and iridescent perspex jewellery is surely going to be a fantastic match with McWilliams' new garments, which we are extremely excited about seeing! She says, "My SS14 collection will finally feature some of my own print work which is pretty exciting, though handing over an idea and waiting for the results is daunting as I like to be hands on with everything."
She adds, "My only real plan [for the coming year] is to build on what I have achieved so far by continuing to design, create and promote new design. I really just want to learn as much as possible and create work I’m proud of."
You can see more of Danni McWilliams' work on her newly launched website www.dannimcwilliams.com and can buy her work at marketplace.asos.com/boutique/danni-mcwilliams-studio