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September 20, 2012

Getting Down with Duckie Brown

The calmness backstage at Duckie Brown was a demonstration of the way the design duo of Daniel Silver and Steven Cox worked: graceful, creative, and calculatedly laid-back, like poets writing sonnets in free verse with expletives and made-up words.  I had the honor of speaking to them moments before the show started, and though they couldn’t give away much of what was going down the catwalk, they spoke rich volumes of how they worked as designers, as creatives, and as partners.

The "flower" jacket, one of the most remarkable pieces at Duckie Brown Spring 2013

The Dandy Project: Tell me about your inspiration for this collection.

Daniel Silver: The inspiration always comes from us, it’s about the lives we lead, and the end of one collection is the beginning of the next. So, it’s not about a book we read, or a film we saw, or a person we met; it’s about everything. Whatever is happening in our lives at that moment goes into the next collection. But the themes are always constantly the same. What’s a little different in this collection for Spring/Summer is that it’s a little harder, it’s a little more muscular, it’s less atheoretical.  Often we do things that wrap around the body and are much more loose and easy-going and breezy for Spring/Summer, and this collection is the exact opposite.

My favorites among Duckie's "hard and muscular" looks: on the left is a utilitarian work jacket in light denim with the most perfect big and stiff denim pants with enormous cuffs, and on the right a fitted denim jean-suit with the most gentle sweeping draped harness.

These looks are classically Duckie Brown in different ways: the look on the left marries Daniel's English heritage with the silhouette of the classically skinhead Harrington jacket with the buffalo plaid and the ease of sportswear that is typically North American, a tribute to Steven's Canadian roots, and to New York, their home for many years. The "flower" jacket on the right, paired with big trousers and white shoes is a testament to their quirky exuberance.

Steven Cox: Every single thing that I see is inspiration, your nail varnish, your rings, your handcuffs around your neck, it somehow goes into the collection and comes out.  But we’re not like that. I can fit things in that aren’t really in the inspiration, you know, I’m never like, “oh I see a film”, so it’s everything.

with Daniel Silver and Steven Cox moments before the show

DS: Sometimes we’ll say we’re going to do an all-black collection, but then we start to see fabrics and we’re like “let’s do all black, but oh look, there’s a beautiful hot pink. Oh no there’s lime green, oh look there’s chartreuse, oh fuck it let’s bring it all back in”. So you know, it’s how we feel.

Another striking piece for me was this shirt with raw-edged butterfly sleeves, which reminded me much of the dresses Imelda Marcos used to wear. They also sent down a more wearable version of this shirt in what looked like a softer washed silk in faded black.

denim: perfectly washed and perfectly dark

slick hair and a rumpled jacket

TDP: Is there anything special you do when you start preparing to sketch?

DS: Clean up and organize.

SC: Is there anything special I do?

DS: That’s what you do. Everything has to be in order.

Daniel putting the final touches on one of the models

TDP: It’s interesting how your inspirations are from all over and when you start you have to start in order.

SC: Well, I start sketching in a sketchbook, mostly on an airplane, mostly on the flight to London. And then those sketches are then transferred into what I say, proper sketches, which are on the acetate-free like marker paper. It’s whenever I’m ready, whenever it’s right to do.

flower tattoos echoed the abstract floral motif in some of the pieces, and served as a hard-soft contrast to the tougher looks.

flower tattoos on the neck

flower tattoos on the hands

TDP: How does your relationship as partners build into your creative dynamic?

SC: It’s just natural.

DS: It’s all one in the same. We’re lucky we get to live together, we get to work together, and we get to play together. I don’t know how you separate that or…

SC: There’s no separation.

backless at Duckie Brown

My sweetest thanks to Daniel Silver, Steven Cox, and Ross Fenton.

runway photos c/o Duckie Brown, backstage photos by Sophia Callahan


  • Duck
    September 20th, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Another brilliant post! The raw-edged shirt and the entire tartan look… Want. I feel like I need to hire a professional make-up artist too, I love those “tattoos” (I would never get the real thing).

  • Izzy
    September 20th, 2012 at 11:07 am

    If you lived in NYC, we could timeshare the make-up artist. But he/she must be good at hair too.

  • Colin Chapman
    September 21st, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Great post and pictures, they are absolutely my favourite designers in New York and such lovely people.

  • Duck
    September 22nd, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Ja, my hair never ends up that smooth or shiny… I always wonder what they use to flatten it quite so much for the shows.

  • Izzy
    September 22nd, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I see a lot of hair spray used. And it involves hair clips covered with tissue and do-rags.

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