A Moment in Time: D'ELLE STUDIOS
Having a virtual vintage store that heavily relies on Instagram means that those crafty algorithms ensure I see a lot of fashion-focused images. During a session of endless scrolling through suggested content, I stumbled across a vibrant editorial shoot that featured two stunning POC models in sharp styling. Drawn to the fact that the girls looked like they were of Filipina descent like me, I needed to know more. That's how I was first introduced to D'elle Studios.
At first, I thought the account belonged to a savvy vintage store, due to the 90's nostalgia I instantly picked up on. But as I continued to explore the beautiful curation of images, I quickly learnt that D'elle Studios was a made-to-order fashion label from my mother's native country, The Philippines. I fell in love.
I thought that D'elle Studios would be a perfect fit for the TTV Journal. I reached out and had a virtual chat with the brand's Creative Director, Designer and Founder, Danielle Mangana.
A MOMENT IN TIME: D'ELLE STUDIOS
Hey Dani. Tell us, how did D’elle Studios begin?
I started D'elle Studios in late 2018 after working in the headquarters of a fast fashion brand.
I saw the the gaps between Ready to Wear and Luxury Wear. I learnt about the importance of showcasing strong collections with high quality craftsmanship. And of course, I observed the worsening issue of over consumption within the fashion industry.
I have always been fond of having my clothes personally designed and tailored to my size since my teenage years. My clothes, if not hand-me-downs from my Mom, are always made by the local tailors in fabrics handpicked by me.
People always appreciate my style and what I choose to wear - so I thought, why not share my vision and try out a different approach to fashion in Manila!
So with all of that behind me, D'elle Studios is about the Slow Fashion practice while showcasing bold collections of Ready to Wear pieces.
Can you tell us about where your garments are designed and manufactured?
D' elle pieces are designed wherever I am and manufactured in Manila, Philippines - that's where my two personal tailors are located.
What inspires the D’elle designs?
D’elle’s DNA forever flows through the ideal D’elle character – she is timeless and elegant but also fun and fresh.
I usually get inspired by the 60's & 70's and create my own take on it. I always design and visualize collections with that main character in mind - I develop her story, her lifestyle, her whole persona! The story usually gets influenced by my current experience from all forms of art to exploring new places & things. And the character evolves with me as themes change - her core identity always remains.
Tell us about your HQ - is it tech focused? Is it minimal?
D’elle’s current & temporary HQ in Manila is also my personal space.
It’s exactly like my D'elle character - it consists of old & new things that gives the space its own unique identity.
There’s a strong focus on colour - is there a favourite colour combination in your current collection?
YES! I love bold colours. I usually do tone contrasting from my previous collections. Sometimes, when I find a fabric in the perfect tone, I automatically get design ideas in mind. In the most recent collection, I was super in the mood for blue – all shades of it.
What is your favourite fashion moment?
Oh I have a lot! My two most favorite would be Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell leaving London Fashion Week in 1991, in school-girl-chic looks. And all looks from Beverly Hills 90210!
To me, D’elle Studios was a real delight to come across because it shows the world where fashion is at in the Philippines. Tell us more about the industry in this part of Asia and how you’ve managed to break out into it.
There are so many great, young, independent designers in the Philippines. This new generation is more collaborative. I've noticed how we are all trying our best to raise awareness with our customers. There's so many slow fashion brands popping up!
I am glad that D’elle has been one of the brands that went for this direction and we have been inspiring more Filipino designers to break out into a more sustainable world of fashion.
We are trying to educate our audiences more about slow fashion and the pure essence of it. From the design process, production, and distribution – the ethical route that we choose to take proves that it's possible to make beautiful things while trying to lessen the impact on our environment. We're all about being fair to our skilled workers, too.
As the D’elle community grows, I hope we get to encourage more people to consume mindfully and live more intently.
Things don’t always have to be done in an instant. Beautiful things take time.
How do you incorporate sustainable practices within your business?
First, we try to limit our waste by producing our pieces in small batches.
Second, we promote the practice of slow fashion by only producing two collections every year - we don't need the pressure of releasing new pieces just for the sake of spiking up our margins!
And third, we introduced a made to order concept in the Philippines – it was new in 2018. Once our design goes out of stock from the initial launch, our production cycle goes per order.
When you’re shooting a campaign, what do you need to have on set?
I try to keep our shoots simple when we can and experiment in every campaign. A good camera with a great lens is essential. The rest depends on the creative direction we are going for.
We actually tried shooting a campaign with no studio lights!
As for the set design set up, I usually rent out an Airbnb that fits in with the theme of my collection and take it from there!
If you could pick one piece to style with something vintage from TTV, what would it be? What would the outfit look like?
Tough question. I have so many picks. But my favorite would be the Giuseppe Zanotti heels. I would love to style them with a D’elle jacket, a pair of jeans or leather pants! But personally, I would wear them with my cut out denim shorts, white bikini top, Zuria apple green leather jacket, black belt, and beaded Fendi baguette!