A "Co"nversation with Stephanie Danan of Co
This is an episode of an ongoing series of MINT interviews at Neiman Marcus.
MINT: What was your background before your got started in fashion?
Well I actually started in the movie business. I made movies for twenty years in Hollywood before I transition into fashion. I did have some fashion experience because my family was in it and so I sort of knew it quite well. My partner and I started to do a small collection in 2011 and we made a film to go along with the collection and then it was seen online by a lot of people and the stores started calling us so that how we started.
MINT: That’s very interesting because a lot of people talk about large fashion houses and how they maintain a monopoly on fashion and what the people and stores buy…how they set the trends. But it sounds like you came up in grassroots, avant garde kind of way. Do you see your method a trend or are you an anomaly?
I just think this idea that there is only one way to get to something is not true. There are so many different ways to get to where you want to go and in terms of fashion, art, or film; a good story is a good story. If you prefer to tell that story through screen play or a collection or a painting, it’s all really the same thing. You are trying to get to an emotional experience.
MINT: That’s really interesting. Since you made a film that was disseminated online, how do you feel like the role of technology as far as marketing has been incorporated in fashion today?
What is really changed is in terms of speed and how quickly now people are definitely wanting the new quicker than ever so that puts a lot of pressure on fashion and it definitely changed the landscape in that way. That’s why we try to create classic pieces which have nothing to do with the trends. Timeless.
MINT: Based on your background working in films, how do you see that inspiration in your clothes or how you define the line?
In terms of films I studied drama, and I studied a dramatic story so I think that there is a bit of that in our clothes for sure…there is a dramatic impact whether it’s a sleeve or an embellishment. But we’re staying quite simple and trying to stand for the experience as well.
MINT: I really like your idea of everything having to tell a story. For someone who works in publishing, we always try to incorporate that as well. Do you think you could tell me first a story about any challenges you faced at the beginning of the company?
We started in our living room. We had no money. We basically lived and breathed our work. We gave 100% of ourselves into the experience and it was quite challenging and we had toiled really really hard to get to a place where we were able to show the collection to the store and deliver on time and the whole process of the cycle of fashion is very challenging. It was definitely hard and there was a learning curve for sure.
MINT: Was there any time you felt like giving up?
I don’t think so, not yet!
MINT: Also, if you could talk about one of your pieces that can conveys some type of story?
This dress (shown on the model of the left) actually is my favorite of the collection. This collection was shot at Marlene Dietrich’s home in Los Angeles which was never shot in before; where she spent a lot of time and a lot of archival photography was shot in that house and it was for me very reminiscent of that era of old Hollywood glamour.
MINT: This piece is really beautiful. Can you tell me more about it as far as the process and what it contains?
I fell in love with the fabric and I wanted to use this flowing, velvety fabric to create a silhouette that’s easy to wear. I talk a lot about it being a perfect hostess dress when you have people over for dinner and that you are dressed up but not overly dressed because of its flowing and casual in a way. I like this idea of incredibly rich fabrics but like a very easy casual silhouette.
MINT: I like this idea of perfect hostess dress makes me think that each of these pieces has a role…
Yes, a character.
MINT: Exactly. So what would be kind of overall vibe character you are going for with your design?
Femininity. The character is always feminine but she makes fun of herself and doesn’t take herself too seriously because we don’t like when fashion takes itself too seriously. She is generous. She knows who she is. She is strong and she leads a very busy life but she is also multi-cultured and loves movies and loves traveling and is not one dimensional.
MINT: Looking toward the future where do you see your company and your designs going?
I’m aspiring to make women feel great about themselves, not necessary through the clothes, but through the message of the brand and that the clothes are just an extension of who they are: individual with a lot of beauty and love, that emanates from within. And that the clothes are really there to serve that and nothing else.