The Croatian-born designer Damir Doma started his eponymous fashion label four years ago. In just a short period of time Doma has become an established name among the great luxury brands in Paris and one of the most influential men in menswear today. His draped silhouettes, flowing volumes and soft tailoring in exquisite fabrics designs comes as no surprise when one learns that he has modelled his company after his mentor, Raf Simons. Doma talks about criticism, the label’s meteoric rise and Damir Doma the Man.
-How did you get into fashion design? What is your educational and professional background?
My mother is a fashion designer and I basically grew up in her atelier. She kept me and my sister busy with drawing and playing with her left over materials. After high school I studied fashion design but I’d say that the crucial point was definitely the things I learned from my mother and the people working in the atelier.
What has life been like for you, since you grew up and graduated in Germany, and now moved and showing your collections at Paris Fashion Week?
Yeah, time is passing rapidly for me! Sometimes it’s quite hard to find the time and reflect over the last years. I’m just super grateful for having the chance to do what I’m doing.
-In Germany they named you as one of the most important fashion designers in the country. What aspect of your work makes it unique?
I guess it’s my personal vision and my approach. I’m always trying to see things in a bigger picture and not only work on the little details. At the same time I see all my pieces as products and this means that I want to improve the stuff from season to season! I’m not just offering a product but my own universe!
Who is the Damir Doma Man? How will you describe the concept of your clothes?
The Damir Doma man is a strong and proud and at the same time he needs to have a certain sensibility. People wearing my clothes need to be open for a new experience. My clothes are about materials, volume and fluidity. My garments should influence the way people move and act in a very strong way.
-What was it like mentored by Raf Simons?
No comment! Sorry!
-Which celebrities would you most like to style?
I think Christopher Walken is still fantastic, but definitely David Bowie! I love Radiohead, Placebo, Sigur Ros, Sigourney Weaver is great and I adore Nadja Auermann.
-What inspires you creatively? Who is your strongest fashion influence?
My fashion references are coming from the late 70’s and 80’s. I love early Giorgio Armani and also Issey Miyake. I believe I’m a very instinctive person and my emotions are often also the base of my work. I get very inspired by certain artists such as Kiefer and Beuys.
-What is your greatest weakness?
I have to admit that I’m not tooo patient.
-What is the main criticism your collections have faced?
I believe that fashion is about change and I am a designer who tries to change season after season. This is what I learned during my period in Antwerp.
Sometimes when you face people with things they are not used to, they get a little scared but after a while the impact on them will be even bigger. This is what I basically went through with both collections. When I started with menswear, the press couldn’t really handle the shapes and the volumes and they couldn’t work out which box they should put me in until someone created the term soft tailoring. The same thing happened with the womenswear. People got slightly scared of the big volumes but I always think that it’s about contrast! Under a huge coat you’ll find a piece of clothe that is soft, fragile and sensitive.
-Do you think today is an exciting or a frightening time to be a young designer? Is there any off-the-shelf secret for creative success?
I guess the secret is to be really focused! A creator needs to know who he or she is and where he or she wants to go so that’s crucial. I believe that these days it’s about offering and showing a universe and not just clothes. The competition on the market is enormous and it’s really important that the brand is very compatible with the markets.
-How was the ‘Swiss Textiles Award’ experience? What was the most important lesson it taught you?
I had the impression that the award is about to face quite some changes and I believe that it’s really important that the Swiss Textiles send out a clear message. What is the event about? What are the criteria for winning the prize and what’s the level of the competitors? I think that it’s quite random to shift from last years winner Alexander Wang to this year’s winner Mary Katrantzou.
-So what are your future plans for the Damir Doma brand?
We want to built a strong and solid base in the next two seasons that gives us the chance to built a really strong house in the future. Fashion got extremely fast moving and there are so many new designers coming up each season.
So the most desirable thing is to have the chance to do what we’re doing as long as possible.
-What would be your dream project?
A dream project would be to design for one of my fashion heroes!
Text: Matthew Zorpas | Link: damirdoma.com