Describing Danielle Meder's role in the fashion industry proved a challenge for me. But, in short, think of her role as a fashion-forward creative who uses words and images instead of fabrics. Danielle is an en-vogue fashion illustrator, trained designer, trend theorist, thinker and communicator working out of London. Essentially, she offers her creativity to the industry on an independent, freelance basis.
When she's not illustrating for fashion designers, art directors and private clients like Bloomingdale's, The Hudson's Bay Company, The Globe and Mail and the National Post—you can find her managing her fashion website and blog, FinalFashion. On the side Danielle has a deeply fabulous passion project creating super fun fashion paper dolls. These paper doll designs have been featured in the Great big Book of Fashion Illustration and in FLARE Magazine.
Danielle's followers stay abreast of fashion happenings by following Danielle's various media outlets, including her blog, illustration portfolio, her Twitter feed, Facebook, and Tumblr.
I recently got the chance to pick Danielle's creative brain about how she got into the industry and what advice she offers to aspiring fashionistas:
What inspired you to get into the fashion industry?
An abiding interest in fashion. From a young age I was very interested in the history of costume and the conventions of the fashion figure.
What is your focus within the industry?
Professionally I am an illustrator, I often work with designers among other types of clients. I also blog on the topic of fashion trend theory.
What type of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I earned a Bachelor's degree in Fashion Design from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.
How has your career path progressed over the years?
I have been freelancing full time for five years now, and am gradually developing my reputation, business and creative skills. I intend to continue this path.
What is your favorite part of working in the fashion/design business?
It is a fascinating industry full of fascinating people. The people who work in fashion are incredibly driven, and that alone is inspiring. I also enjoy the competitive aspect. There is an intuitive nature to fashion--a certain sixth sense (taste, sometimes) is something that you can develop if you spend enough time around it.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashionistas?
First of all, never call yourself a fashionista. But seriously, I would advise persistence and patience - it will take you years to develop all the skills you need to master. Work hard in school and seek out relevant experiences and relationships, that will be the foundation you can build a career on.
Do you think there is an overall increasing or decreasing need for people in the fashion industry?
There are far more fashion graduates than there are roles to fill. You have a better chance of finding a place for yourself if you literally invent your own role, because the one thing that there is always room for in fashion is something different.
Which roles in the fashion industry do you think will offer the best career opportunities moving forward? eg. designer, PR, entrepreneur, etc.?
There is a growing need for people who are able to express fashion using video and interactivity. I also see a resurgence in interest in tailors and customized clothing, as the perception of luxury is moving away from mass manufactured goods. There is a huge gap in the market for people who are technicians, to maintain continuity of skills - many of fashion's craftspeople are literally dying out.
Do you think today's jobs in the fashion industry require more of an artist's touch or business-like ruthlessness?
One or the other won't get you very far. You have to have both, although I wouldn't characterize business skills pejoratively as "ruthless" - knowing how to making a living is just smart.
Which skills do you consider to be most critical for a career in fashion?
Dedication and determination will give you an edge - you have to commit a lot of energy to fashion to get anywhere.
What do you think the future of fashion and design holds?
We are at an interesting point in history as a species - entering an age of uncertainty and power shifts will probably radically change both the superficial aspects of fashion and the internal structure of the industry.
Check out more interviews at The Fashion-Schools.org Interview Series.