Thursday, August 16

Friday:5ive with Interior Designer Jill Danyelle

 Jill Danyelle is my hero. And for that, we are featuring her this week in our Friday:5ive.

 This former therapist who now counsels clients in interior design projects has produced a new project in such a highly stylized manner that I am dying over her concept. It's something I keep trying to do, but am thwarted by my lack of letting go (yes, even if in this tiny space I call home, where it's easy to curate and hard to not hang onto). She has edited down her closet - and of some of the most fabulous designer vintage pieces, may I add - of Prada, Comme des Garçons, Yves St. Laurent, allowing her amazing "cast offs" to be adopted by friends and fellow fashion lovers at a pop-up shop in the midst of her friend Kate McGregor's Lower East Side boutique, Kaight.

Jill Danyelle and Kaight boutique owner Kate McGregor 

Kaight, a retail pioneer in the eco-fashion movement, is all about sustainable fashion, so an upscale resale vintage pop-up shop is the perfect fit. And Jill is no stranger to
the world of sustainable fashion. In 2005, she initiated fiftyRX3, an online project "examining the crossroads of style and sustainability." Photographing everything she wore for a year, she "created a small collection of clothing, including a dress made from broken umbrellas that she reclaimed from the streets of New York." According to her website, the project won her much international press, with mentions in ELLE, Madame Figaro, Glamour, NYLON, PAPER, I.D. and The Chicago Tribune, including mention in several books on sustainable living.

 Jill in her fiftyRX3 recycled umbrella dress
Kicking of her two-week sale Tuesday night, nestled in the tiny back annex of the store amid racks of her old "friends," Jill hosted a wine and canapé-type soirée that seemed right out of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," with some of the stylish clothing to match. Jill appeared very Holly Golightly in her wrap dress that could be worn six ways, zhushed with a gold fabric tie belt. All that was missing was the long cigarette holder and the hair on fire!
Jill in the versatile 6-way wrap dress that she found at a
vintage store near her parents home in Florida

FashionWhirled:  How and why has vintage become a passion for you, and, with your background as a therapist, what role does vintage play for you psychologically? How do you use fashion as "therapy" for yourself?! 

Jill Danyelle:   I suppose I am just a fan of beautiful things in general. Once I actually learned how to design and construct a garment, however, I also really appreciated the quality and detail you can find in some vintage pieces. Additionally, vintage can be a way to bring some character and originality into your wardrobe - and your home.

When you stop and think about it, clothing is the possession with which we are probably most intimate. My background as a therapist really doesn't factor into it, but I think, for all of us, clothing can be laden with such a variety of meaning. It can be your uniform, your identity, your creative outlet, your protection, etc.

Jill in her fiftyRX3 recycled cashmere dress

I wouldn't say I use fashion as therapy too much. After fiftyRX3, a project where I photographed what I wore every day for a year and wrote about the items in terms of sustainability, I began to really want a cohesive, leaner, more functional wardrobe. I edited out a lot. I have a fairly casual lifestyle, so it was kind of ridiculous to have a vintage Oscar de la Renta ball gown taking up space in the closet. That said, it can be fun to dress up, so I did keep some pieces that come out to play once in awhile. 

FW:  When and where do you shop for the special pieces you find? How did you prepare yourself emotionally to let go of the vintage pieces you "put up" for adoption at the Kaight event going on for the next couple of weeks? What made you pick the pieces you did to include in the event?

JD:  I shop in vintage and thrift shops and flea markets wherever I find them and find a fair amount of things on eBay. Now, however, I am mostly shopping for clients' homes in these places. I will still look at vintage pieces for myself at times, but I already have enough, so rarely buy - maybe the occasional thing of beauty. I have a thing for pretty dresses from the '70s and '20s. Maybe I should start having dinner parties again to give us all an excuse to don our fancy frocks. [Yes, please! - editors]

I had no problem letting go. I have been editing my possessions over the last few years and don't have a ton of attachment to them. I had more of a problem with seeing something pretty sit in the closet and not get worn because it no longer fit my lifestyle or it never really fit my body well to begin with. It isn't all vintage at the Pop-Up Shop, there are some contemporary pieces, too. If I thought a piece was in decent condition and someone else could use it, I put it in the pile. I also like that there are a variety of price points from $10 to $300. This isn't really a money making endeavor - it is more about recycling!

FW:  Who is your muse and how does she (he?) affect the choices you make for your wardrobe or any style decision you make? 

JD:  I dress for myself. I love to pull out the vintage pieces I have and make an effort, but that is not always practical on a day-to-day basis. I want to be a wearer, not a collector, so I am just as fond of a great t-shirt and pair of jeans. I have six of the same J.Crew t-shirt and it is a staple in my wardrobe. Imagine my sadness when I discovered holes in one, as they don't make them anymore. I am busy, so I don't want to spend my days ironing and running to the dry cleaners, things that wash and wear well are always a plus. 

FW:  If you could have any notable individual -- dead or alive -- visit your "pop-up shop" at Kaight, who would that be and what items would you want to dress them in or want them to "adopt" as their own?! Which piece(s) over time have you considered your favorites and why?

"I love this jumper dress thing I found at an East Village thrift shop. It reverses to
a more shiny silver fabric and can be dressed up or down, but it needed a new
owner to breathe life into it, so I put it in the sale."

JDI don't know about notable, but the individuals I care most about already showed up - my friends. I didn't want them to feel pressured to buy anything, though. I actually refused to let my friend buy some shoes because I felt they were too big - and she was buying two other pairs already. I just want people who will wear the items to "adopt" them. I love the silk Oscar de la Renta skirt and top and the Yves St. Laurent skirt, because I am drawn to their beautiful, ethnic-inspired prints. The Galanos dress is just impeccably constructed. I swoon over the interior as much as the exterior of the garment. The Tao Commes des Garcons shirt and skirt set is also amazing - that is a piece that really needs to get out of the house and be seen. And who doesn't like a pair of vintage Maud Frizon gold cowboy boots?

FW:  What words of wisdom do you live by, or strive to live by, and when you're working with a client to create an environmental living space, what advise or spiritual/philosophical directive do you give to them? And, I know you strive to maintain a sustainable environment within your world of style, how do you do so on a daily basis?

JD:  I try to live with love and positivity as guiding principles. I am in no way perfect, but I try to ask myself... am I doing what I love? am I treating people with love? When you are acting with love in mind, it is hard to go wrong. I may have negative moments, like we all do, but I try to put positive things out into the world and surround myself with positive people.

An East Village apartment, designed by Jill

When I am working with clients it is less about directives and more about collaboration. Every client is different, but most are happy to go on the journey. They enjoy the process of learning more about design, different periods and styles and honing their own sense of style. We definitely go through a lot of visual references and some are surprised at the things they like. The job is primarily about taking what the client is drawn to and pulling together a space that tastefully reflects who they are and also functions to meet their needs.

After we have worked together for a time, clients usually begin to develop trust. Maybe this is when the philosophical/spiritual discussions come about more. I had a client who lived in less than 500 square feet, with very limited closed storage, but still had all of his notes from college. Another client's partner had left the home after they spent seven years together there. He needed help redefining the space, filling in some holes that were left and making it his own. He had a big bedroom and bed, but only one bed side table. I insisted that he have two. I wanted him to create the space for his future partner. Again, it varies depending on the client. I don't think people always realize what a huge impact their home can have on their life... I sometimes call it design Prozac. Two great references are Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure and Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui [by Karen Kingston].

In terms of my own sustainable style, it is a lot about balancing what I love with what I need. I live in a small space and need to be practical, so if I both love and use something, then it is a keeper. I think when you start there and thoughtfully consider these things, then you will be happier with what you have and less likely to want to replace it. 

That's it, like "This is Your Life" in clothing. Yves St. Laurent said, "Fashions fade, style is eternal."

*All photos except those from Kaight event provided by Jill Danyelle

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