Designer Files: Danielle Meder

Danielle Meder is a recent alumni of Ryerson's School of Fashion. This award-winning designer recently displayed her collection at the school's Mass Exodus graduation show. Every year, Holt Renfrew features Ryerson's top collections in their Bloor Street windows; look for a 'Final Fashion' outfit in that display this spring. At this time of transition, I was able to talk with Danielle and ask her some questions about her experiences.

How did you get into fashion?
From a very young age I was really into fantasy literature, and through that I became interested in historic costume. As a small child, I would pore over costume history books from the library. I made extensive sets of paper dolls with historically accurate wardrobes. But it was all fantasy - there was no such thing as fashion where I come from! I grew up as a farm kid in hand-me-downs.

When did you start sewing?
As a kid. My mom had a treadle singer sewing machine. I started when I was around 10 years old I think. I started out by making cloth dolls.

Why did you decide to attend school for fashion design?
I needed a way to get out of my small town after high school. I didn't know anyone anywhere so I thought I'd have to go to university somewhere. I was either going to do English or fashion design. I picked fashion design
because I thought it would be good to learn how to do something other than read and write.

This past school year you won a design competition for Zellers. Your clothes are now in the store. What has this experience taught you?
I played that competition to win! I knew that the girls I was competing with were very talented, and I wanted to win that cash prize and buy a computer. So I knew I had to do very well. I observed the Zellers advertising and looked at their lines. The team from HBC came into class and gave us some trend stories to play with. I came up with a concept that I though worked within those parameters and set about doing the best storyboard and outfit I could do. I was surprised that despite all of the restrictions in the project, it was actually a lot of fun to execute. It just came together. I did incredibly detailed technicals (right down to rendering zippers and coverseaming) and worked hard to achieve a total look. Sure there were some glitches, but the overall essence that put it over the top - high standards.
I'm so thankful to the deZigners Competition team for choosing my collection and putting the outfit together. It's so incredible for a young designer to see their designs mass-produced. I can see the changes that they made to my prototypes and how those changes simplified and streamlined my ideas to make them easier to manufacture.

Why did you start your blog Final Fashion?
I really wanted to have some kind of record of putting together my grad collection, and as I had recently acquired a computer it just sort of came together. I never expected when I began that it would be as rewarding as it is. I am privileged to have a high caliber of readership and knowing that is a great incentive for working hard and having something to show for it.

What are your plans now that school is over? What choices does the typical fashion student have?
I've been wondering that myself.

What are you inspired by?
I really love to learn. I read whenever I can, I love the library. I always want clothes that I don't have. There's always this vague feeling like I've always been wearing the "wrong" clothes my whole life, so that is a major motivator to create what I can't find. I always have really specific ideas of what I like, that's why I like designing so much more than shopping. I enjoy finding solutions within the parameters of a situation. And of course, like any fashionophile, I like things that look good. Whatever that means.

Do you have a design philosophy?
That's a hard one. There are so many things that go into designing. It's part art, business, and craft, and such a variety of disciplines. I guess the thing is to do your research, put the hours in, and to listen to the needs of the people you're designing for, and ultimately trust your gut. I left a bunch of stuff out. I guess I'm not a very philosophical person, eh?

What's your favourite material(s) to work with?
Pencil and paper. I love to illustrate, I can convey any idea that pops into my head, play around, it's so much fun. I love sketching.

Describe your collection/clothing?
I'm into pieces that adapt, are versatile, adjustable. I like simple things, carefully executed. It's easier to show than to tell, so go to, click on the flickr badge and take a look at the collection so far.

What are your favourite movie(s) in terms of costume design?
The classics! Adrian for The Women (1938), Cecil Beaton for My Fair Lady (1963), etc...

How many sewing machines do you have?(I love that antique one you have btw)
Currently I have four. There's the antique singer leatherworker you refer to. It's a treadle model from the 1920s, a gift from my boyfriend. He totally restored it. He loves machines. The other vintage singer is from the 1960s I think, I'm holding it for one of my employers. Lovely machine. Then I have a portable Necchi, an italian model from the 1950s that was a gift from my Nana. She got it as a wedding gift. It's really heavy-duty for a portable. And of course I have a modern serger, a home version, lent from a great friend.

What's your definition of style?
Feeling like you've got the right clothes on.

Do you think of yourself as stylish?
I'm working towards being stylish. I would say that 4 years ago I was 0% stylish and now I'm about 13% stylish. By the time I'm 50 I'm gonna be 100% stylish.

Do you have a muse?
Just chasing that X-factor. I'm not sure what it is but I know it when I see it.

Be on the lookout for a Spring 2007 collection from Danielle later this year.


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