Do you want to be a fashion designer to the stars that gets featured in high-profile fashion publications like Vanity Fair, Harpers Bazaar and Allure? Then pay attention because we recently got the opportunity to gleam advice from fashion industry-veteran Donald Deal.
Donald's line of deeply-fabulous gowns and dresses have been featured in nationally-syndicated news sources around the country and has been worn by the likes of Sharon Stone, Geena Davis, Lisa Kudrow, Jane Leeves, Laura Linney, Donna Summers, Victoria Rowell, Vanessa Williams, Bette Midler and Barbara Walter...just to name a few. Most recently Donald's designs have been featured on Broadway in Kathie Lee Gifford in Stephen Sondheim's "Putting It Together". Kathie Lee is such a big fan she not only wore his gowns on Broadway, she also hosted the Daytime Emmy Awards in them. Us 'common folk' can find Donald's designs at his showroom on West 40th Street in Manhattan.
Donald recently sat down with us to discuss what helped him get ahead in one of the world's most ruthless industries, and to offer advice to aspiring designers:
What inspired you to get into the fashion industry?
Fashion was always apart of consciousness and I always wanted to be apart of that expression.
What is your focus within the industry?
I am committed to "Couture" cocktail & evening wear for the high-end market
What type of education did it take to get you where you are today?
Everyone knows that the best training is on-the-job....the level of expertise is achieved by the level of passion and commitment to the craft at hand.
How has your career path progressed over the years?
I never really thought much about it until recently...I discovered it was actually all I ever wanted it to be, and it continues to usher me on both a creative as well as personal journey.
What is your favorite part of working in the fashion/design business?
I really love it all....I love seeing new textiles every season....I love playing with them and watching them come to life...I love the challenges they present when I think they should be something they clearly don't want to be....It's like a dance of elements that must be carefully and methodically orchestrated, and you always know when it's good....that's my favorite part!!!
What advice would you give to aspiring fashionistas?
Knowledge is great in terms of technical pursuit, creativity is essential when presenting a statement, but to merge the two is success and if you can balance that you are in the game!
What school(s) does your company generally recruit new hires from?
The school is not important to me....the student is!
Do you think there is an overall increasing or decreasing need for people in the fashion industry?
I believe there is a need for good people in every industry....we have no future without the visionaries that come along everyday!
Which roles in the fashion industry do you think will offer the best career opportunities moving forward? e.g. designer, PR, entrepreneur, etc.?
I think it depends on the individuals passion....we create our own place in any industry if we are driven to succeed
What designer(s) or brand(s) influenced you the most as a creative professional?
I think "life" influences me most....the playing field changes all the time and it's all dictated by world events!
Do you think today's jobs in the fashion industry require more of an artist's touch or business-like ruthlessness?
Truth is you can't have one without the other....finding the harmony...mutual respect if you will...is the only way to be successful.
Which skills do you consider to be most critical for a career in fashion?
Discipline is huge, but so is commitment. There just isn't a magic bullet....it's all about being clear with yourself and the product you create.
What do you think the future of fashion and design holds?
Fashion is not unlike any other Industry....it changes and re-defines itself quicker perhaps, but it is the mirror through which we all look at the world and each other. The trick I believe is to make sure that what you see is what's really there!
Check out more interviews at The Fashion-Schools.org Interview Series.