For fashion designer Danietté Thomas, leaving behind elementary school uniforms for middle school’s less stringent dress code opened up a world of fashion possibilities.
And when she couldn’t find the exact garments she was looking for, she began sketching them herself. One of her teachers encouraged her to learn to sew so she could build her creations. “I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer because I fell in love with the idea of my sketches coming to life,” says Thomas.
A Savannah native who graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design’s fashion design program in 2015, Thomas felt her portfolio didn’t fit the ready-to-wear market, so she launched her own custom evening wear label, DANIETTÉ. She doesn’t want to cater to just one type of client — rather, she enjoys providing a custom design and fit for any woman. “It’s almost like I’m allowing my customer to be a designer as well,” says Thomas.
After graduation, Thomas learned one of the most important aspects of transitioning from student to designer: trusting her own ideas. Former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley, who attended the SCAD fashion show in 2016 where Thomas showed her student work, told her he would have loved to see a piece of her all-black collection in white, which had been her original intention, but she’d second-guessed herself. Since then, Thomas has let her instincts take the lead in her designs.
Another of Thomas’s aims in growing her business has been finding seamstresses who can help build her garments while she focuses more on design and marketing. She also works with interns from the SCAD fashion program. “As a designer, it takes a certain level of confidence to not only sew the garments yourself, but to find someone else whom you can guide to build your designs the way you want them,” says Thomas.
While DANIETTÉ is based in Savannah, Thomas creates garments for clients from all over. Since she works by appointment only, she is able to control the number of designs she is creating at any one time, allowing her to focus on giving customers exactly what they’re looking for. “The consultation and sketch can all be done digitally; then I can bring the garment to the client for a final fitting,” she explains.
Thomas’s goal is to release a collection of bridal, prom, runway and even men’s suits every other year, starting in 2019.
She is happy not to fit into any one fashion market and wants to continue to build her name as a designer who can create anything. “Original fashion design comes from research and perception, understanding trends, putting all the pictures together and making that 2D sketch become this gorgeous, 3D garment,” says Thomas. And she is focused on making all customer fashion dreams a reality.