This season London-based Daniel W. Fletcher relocated to Paris, showing his collection via a lookbook and appointments in the French capital. Yet his inspirational muse came from across the Atlantic: an all-American jock, stuck without an outfit just hours before the arrival of his hot date.
Titled Hopelessly Devoted, this influence filtered through a collection that saw Fletcher spin his trademark sports-tailoring through a US filter: varsity-style motifs, wrestling leotards and knitwear complete with random rips and tears, as though tugged at by players on the pitch.
Alongside a gallery of exclusive backstage Polaroids, here Fletcher takes us into the ideas behind his SS20 collection and the experience of showing in Paris.
This season you released your collection during Paris Fashion week, how would you describe the difference in mood to London?
Daniel W. Fletcher: The mood in Paris is totally different to London; there’s an energy in London that is not like anywhere else, it feels very free and there’s a lot of creativity there that comes from new young brands trying to do things their own way. Paris, on the other hand, is more traditional, but also it feels quite epic, everything is bigger, the brands are more established and the shows are grander, so there’s always a buzz of excitement around it.
Why did you decide to relocate to Paris this season?
DWF: I have a real connection to Paris, I interned at Lanvin and Louis Vuitton whilst I was a student and worked for Vuitton after I graduated; all of which had a huge impact on who I am as a designer but also made me fall in love with Paris, so releasing the collection during PFW is something I’ve always considered. I like to mix up the way I show my collections, I’ve done loads of different formats (presentation, catwalk, film, lookbook, protest…) because I think it’s important not to get stuck in a routine when there are so many ways to present what I’ve done. That way I’m able to connect to different people each season. And with Brexit looming, who knows what the future holds for British brands in Paris? A lot of us do our sales there but that could be a lot more difficult if we leave the EU.
“…I can imagine them running around in the woods tearing the linings out of their jackets and ripping up their varsity sweaters.”
Thematically, you headed to America with this collection, what motivated the decision?
DWF: I spent some time there this year working on a few things outside of my brand and when I got back and started designing the collection, it all of a sudden started to look really American. It was subconscious at first so I went with it and started looking back at 70s prom photos and college sports kits.
“…I wanted it to feel like the confetti canisters have just been fired at the end of the night and freeze that moment of ecstasy.”
I assume the title came from the Grease track, were American high school films an influence? And what about them?
DWF: You’re right, it was my favourite film as a kid. I re-watched it a few months ago and had such a different response to it. I just remembered the fun songs and ‘cool’ hair cuts but watching it as an adult it was so much darker than that, it’s full of sorrow and I hadn’t realised before how tortured a lot of the characters are.
That feeds into the slightly dishevelled aspects of the collection, you can see that darker side.
DWF: Something I noticed about all these films is that on the surface they seem like everything is quite straight forward but beneath it’s much more twisted, The Breakfast Club is a great example. I feel like the characters in the Donna Tart’s novel, The Secret History would be at home in this collection, I can imagine them running around in the woods tearing the linings out of their jackets and ripping up their varsity sweaters.
In terms of design, how did shifting your focus to US tropes allow you to explore new areas?
DWF: This is my ninth season now – I can’t quite believe it – but what’s come with that is signature styles (like the split hem pants, bound-edge shirts and inside-out jeans jackets), so I’m able to be a bit more free with my research and apply it to my existing archive. A lot of my brand DNA comes from British heritage but I have enjoyed exploring further afield this season and using that to build on the existing DWF wardrobe.
The confetti detailing was great, like the aftermath of a prom night. Where did that come from?
DWF: I wanted it to feel like the confetti canisters have just been fired at the end of the night and freeze that moment of ecstasy. There’s a lot of darkness in the collection and I think this provides a moment of lightness and optimism at a time when we all need it.